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20 Things You Didn't Know About Sirius XM

You'll find Sirius XM radio in many of the newer cars driving on the road today. It provides users with 140 radio channels and it keeps them connected with their favorite stations for news, entertainment and sports. Sirius Satellite Radio is owned by Sirius XM Holdings, Inc and they do business under the name Sirius X Satellite Radio. It's a broadcasting company with an interesting history. When we delved a little deeper into the company we discovered some things that we didn't realize about it. Here are 20 things about Sirius XM that you didn't know but will probably find interesting.

1. Sirius XM hasn't been around that long

Although we've heard the name Sirius XM for a few decades, and they've been good at advertising their product, Sirius Satellite Radio has only been in business since 1990. It all started under the name of Satellite CD Radio. The first company was located in Washington, DC. It was founded by Martine Rothblatt, Robert Briskman and David Margolese. It seems like they've been around longer because we've seen the brand almost everywhere we go in magazine advertisements, television, radio and more.

2. Sirius XM was a controversial company

When the founders first petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for the assignment of unused radio frequencies for their satellite radio broadcast, the action was one that disrupted the entire radio broadcast industry. The owners of both small and larger radio stations which were not satellite in nature staged and uproar. They were both angered and fearful that a satellite radio company would cut into their business by taking their listeners. Their fears were not unfounded as Sirius XM provides a satellite based system that reaches much further than any of the others are capable of, plus it offers more options for listeners to find precisely what they want to hear.

3. All three of its founders took turns as CEO

The first of Sirius XM's founders to take the helm as CEO of the company was Rothblatt. He served as leader for two years, but resigned his position in April of 1992 after just two short years. He embarked on a venture to start of medical research foundation. The next to take over as CEO was Briskman. He only served in the position for six months and then turned over the reigns to the third co-founder David Margolese. He served in the position for a considerably longer period of time than his partners.

4. David Margolese acquired Sirius XM

Margolese was the partner who was responsible for providing the financial backing for the development of Sirius XM. In fact, he was the last of the partners to acquire control of Sirius XM and it was after he gained control that he succeeded Briskman as CEO. Margolese is also the founder of Rogers Wireless. This happened in November of 1992, just six short months after Briskman had been appointed CEO and Chair of Sirius Satellite Radio.

5. Margolese is responsible for creating a new industry

After gaining control of the company, David Margolese changed the name of the company to CD Radio. It took him five years of lobbying the FCC before they finally relented and allowed the deployment of satellite radio. In all, he spent a full decade getting the company on its feet as the following five years was spent raising funds and building three satellites which were launched into an elliptical orbit from the country of Kazakhstan in the year 2000. It was a long process and he raised $1.6 billion to accomplish the task that would deliver the service that millions of satisfied customers now enjoy. In effect, after Margolese received regulatory clearance, he is the man who created the industry.

6. Sirius name was changed in 1999

There was a lot going on in the new company during the first 12 years of its development from the idea that the trio had to develop it in 1990 until July 1 of 2002. The marketing chief was Ira Bahr and he caught David Margolese' ear and convinced him to change the name of the company because he saw that CD technology was soon going to be outdated. It was changed to the familiar name that we all now know as Sirius Satellite Radio. It was important that the name of the company reflected their ability to stay current and up to date with the latest technology and having a name that showed outdated technology simply wouldn't be good for business.

7. Sirius expanded rapidly within a few short months

There was a lot of work that had to take place behind the scenes before Sirius would be able to grow to the giant that it has become today. Margolese and his crew of marketers were busy throughout the year 2002. They worked with automakers which included Ford, Chrysler and BMW to secure deals for installation of Sirius Satellite Radio technology in their vehicles. This was a major undertaking, but they were able to present the product in a way that made the big automakers take notice. The first phase of Sirius XM service was launched in February of 2002 with just four cities being served. By July 1 of 2002, Sirius had expanded their service to all of the contiguous states in America. This was a major undertaking but it all went off without a hitch.

8. Sirius XM Radio formed by a merger

In July of 2008, Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc, was granted approval of the FCC to acquire XM Satellite Radio Holding, Inc. This is one of those big business deals that took a full 17 months to be approved. The FCC doesn't quickly grant such petitions because they must look at all of the facts about the companies which are to be joined. If there is any chance of the merger creating a monopoly situation that could violate anti-trust laws, the petition is delayed and in some cases denied. When Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc received the go-ahead on July 29 of 2008, Sirius XM Radio for officially developed.

9. Sirius XM Radio serves millions

When the two companies merged to form Sirius XM Radio, this brought together a subscriber base that topped 18.5 million subscribers. This shows how popular the service was from its inception, and this was just the beginning of their success. The merger deal was valued at an estimated $3.3 billion and they continued to gain more subscribers and by the second quarter of 2017, Sirius XM Radio subscriptions had grown to over 32 million.

10. The merger of Sirius and XM was necessary

Had the merger between XM Satellite Radio Holding, Inc and Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc not taken place the company would not likely have survived. The Satellite radio industry was brand new and it was still in its early infancy states. It was necessary to join the two large companies to establish a stable base as the industry was being carried on the shoulders of the two. It took some careful planning and convincing, but the two companies were finally able to show the FCC with solid evidence why the merger was necessary for the Satellite radio industry to survive.

11. They own Pandora

Pandora is another popular streaming music service. They also happened to be the competition for Sirius XM satellite radio. In a brilliant move, Sirius XM completed a purchase agreement to become the owners of Pandora and accomplished the feat in September of 2018. Pandora is a site that brought yet more millions of users with subscription services into the fold.

12. Sirius launched in the same location as Sputnik

Here is a fun fact about Sirius XM that most people aren't aware of. Sirius XM used the same facility to launch their Satellite that the Soviet Union used to launch their famous Sputnik, which was the first satellite in the world to be launched into orbit. What makes this fact so interesting is that the first satellite was launched from Kazakhstan in 1957. Sirius made the launch in July of 2000 which is 43 years later than the famous Sputnik. Sirius followed their initial launch with two more which gives them a total of three active satellites in orbit which deliver high-quality radio programs.

13. Sirius XM offers superior reception

If you haven't been privileged to enjoy the benefits of Sirius XM streaming then it will be good news for you to learn that there are no frustrating static issues with the transmission. You can enjoy clear and crisp streaming without this kind of interruption even if you drive for thousands of miles. Another cool thing about Sirius XM Radio is that you can enjoy commercial free streaming of your favorite music or other type of streamed entertainment.

14. Sirius offers access to exclusive music

Have you ever been disappointed on a long road trip because none of the available stations were playing the music that you want to hear? With Sirius XM, you can gain access to more than 140 different channels and you can choose the kind of music that you want to listen to. You can choose among a variety of genres but they also have stations that broadcast specialty programs including live broadcasts from a variety of music festivals and more. Its like customizing your playlist to make long or short road trips more entertaining.

15. Sirius can help you win at Fantasy Football

Here is another quick fact about Sirius XM Radio. You can manage your subscription to include the station called Fantasy Sports Radio. If you're a Fantasy Football fan, this is ideal because it keeps you up to date with what's going on with your favorite teams and individual players as well. It can actually save you time because you'll hear all the latest news about teams and players including scores, plays, updates on injuries, who's set to play, who's going to be out and they also provide the expert's spins on the situations involving Fantasy Football teams.

16. Sirius wasn't as popular as XM in the beginning

Here's another interesting fact about Sirius XM that most people don't know. Before Sirius and XM Satellite Radio merged, Sirius wasn't as popular as XM. XM Satellite Radio was in the game two years before Sirius so they were a little better known among satellite radio users. It didn't seem to matter to the public that Sirius had launched its three satellites first, they seemed to just gravitate towards XM, but this problem was solved with the merger of the two companies.

17. Sirius had some serious delay issues

There were several delays that the company experienced that were totally unplanned. They had made an order for microchip sets from Lucent Technologies in 2001, but the sets were not delivered in the time frame that was promised. This pushed the summer launch deadline forward and resulted in a setback for the company and it just made XM look all the better by comparison. by 2003, XM had a subscriber base of 500,000 to the 75,000 that Sirius had. The distance between the two companies didn't improve the following year as XM had a total of 1.36 million subscribers to Sirius 261,000. Although they were growing, they still were not as popular as XM.

18. Howard Stern and the Ford automakers saved Sirius

Sirius was experiencing some devastating losses early in their venture. They had signed a $220 million contact with the NFL that would continue from 2003 through 2010, but this wasn't enough to keep them going. It was when they signed a five year deal with Howard Stern that they began to see improvements in their financial status. The deal with stern was valued at $500 million and they beat out XM which was not willing to pay the amount to contract with Stern. This recruitment was a serious boost for Sirius which went exclusive with the Ford Motor company as well. They guaranteed to include Sirius radios in a minimum of 20 of their production models for 2006 and 2007.

17. Sirius went through a high number of CEOs

Some of the larger corporations are fortunate enough to have a successful CEO that will stay the course with the company for decades and in some cases all the way through to their retirement. Sirius has had a long line of successors for the leadership position. When Margolese stepped down in November of 201, having been the third CEO in a decade, Joe Clayton, ho had previously served as the CEO of Global Crossing took his spot at the helm. He remained through 2004 before turning over control to the former Viacom president Mel Karmazin. Karmazin only remained with Sirius until December of 2012.

18. Robert Briskman as a NASA engineer

Here's another interesting and cool fact about one of Sirius XM founders. Robert Briskman, who is responsible for developing the early technology for the company previously worked for NASA as an engineer. He was an integral part of the team because he had the know-how to develop the satellite system that would be implemented as the technology that moved Sirius forward. Briskman served briefly as CEO of the company, but even after stepping down, he remained with Sirius as a Technical Executive.

19. Sirius can make house parties more entertaining

Sirius is installed in vehicles for on the road entertainment but there are accessories available that makes it possible to use the service at your home party. You can find the Sirius Stratus 7 Home & Car Receiver Kit as well as the XM onyX EZ Receiver with Car Kit & Boombox Bundle that allow you to use Sirius services in your home or anywhere else that you happen to be. It can make a party a lot more interesting.

20. Sirius XM Radio is publicly traded

Sirius XM Radio is listed as NASDAQ:SIRI. It's an impressive company that has become one of the fastest growing on the market today. It was valued at $1.66 billion in 2008 and by 2012, grew to $3.4 billion in value with regular trading taking place.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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