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Associated Press Not Impressed By MyFi 223

prostoalex writes "Michael Regan from the Associated Press started reviewing MyFi, a portable satellite radio receiver, by treating it as a competitor to iPod, but then admitted the two devices are quite different. For $350 and a $10-a-month subscription the buyer gets access to XM satellite radio stations and ability to record the stream to 128 MB of built-in flash. There's no way to transfer the recorded content to the computer or vice versa. The review recommends waiting for lower price and better features."
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Associated Press Not Impressed By MyFi

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  • by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:02PM (#10959805) Journal
    In any urban area, the number and variety of free radio stations (supported by volunteers or commercial sponsors) is staggering. There really isn't any reason to splurge on an expensive device when a twist of the dial can tune in just about any type of music that an individual would be interested in. If you can't find a station that interests you in those areas, perhaps it's time to turn the radio off altogether.
    • Aren't most satellite channels commercial-free? That would seem like a good reason to me. Besides, even if there are dozens of channels in your area, there may not be any you really like.

      How to make money with Vioxx []
      • Serius (sp?) is commercial free (I think) while XM is MOSTLY commercial free. When I listened to XM, they would interupt the content to advertise... XM, which seemed sort of silly.

        If you are old enough, you will remember that cable TV was commercial free too back when a montly subscription was $10 (and you wondered why it had to cost so much).

        It will get worse. Trust me.
        • It must've been a while since you listened.

          Both Sirius and XM's music streams are both completely commercial free. The talk, news, and informational channels on both services carry commercials (partially because many of the channels are simulcasts of TV audio).

          XM had originally tried having some of their music channels carrying commercials, but it's been almost a year since that point.

        • If you are old enough, you will remember that cable TV was commercial free too back when a montly subscription was $10 (and you wondered why it had to cost so much).

          You mean back in the days where the ad for Lucky Strikes was presented in-show by the actors themselves?
    • There's really only one traditional commercial radio station left in the US, but is has tens of thousands of affiliates.

      I'm a fan of non-commercial radio [] myself.

    • Where the heck do you live that you have a decent selection of radio stations?
      • Chicago (WLUW, WNUR, a couple others that aren't coming to mind) and SE Michigan/Detroit (WXOU, WCBN, WDET) both have excellent selections of stations that play a good cross-section of everything. I'm sure NYC does too, though I've never lived there.
        • And, let me guess, every single station is owned by Clear Channel.

          All your radio are belong to us.
          • Actually... no. None of them are.

            WLUW was owned by Loyola University, and then I think Chicago Public Radio, but I believe they gave it freedom recently.

            WNUR is Northwestern University's.

            WDET is a publicly supported freeform station in Detroit.

            WCBN is one of the oldest freeform FM radio stations in the country. It also happens to belong to the University of Michigan.

            WXOU belongs to Oakland University.

            Do you notice a trend towards non-commercial educational stations here? There's a reason my radio n
    • by fimbulvetr ( 598306 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:26PM (#10959956)
      You're area may be. But every station in the areas I've been to recently(Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis) plays 2 crappy songs, then 4 minutes of commercials, followed by a good song, then 1 crappy song. In fact, most stations "brag" that they have 30 minute "rock blocks". Great, 30 minutes of junk followed by an equally long commercial break.
      As far as I'm concerned, I'll pay $10 a month to not listen to BS.
      On my trips across South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Minnesota, I usually give AM a shot, but not with one of these:)
      • You missed the most applicable objection which is that different stations tend to have overlapping commercial breaks, they usually take them every 15 minutes, when the minute hand is pointing in one of the four cardinal directions. It's usually impossible to avoid commercials by switching stations, especially at the top of the hour. This is why I have a CD changer.
    • Really? I live in Disneyville, Florida and I can only think of one radio station (NPR excluded) that's not owned by ClearChannel.

      With all the formats, there's only 3 palatable commercial stations between them. (again, NPR excluded)

      Two of them are rock stations, and have irritatingly similar playlists at times. Down to those times when they're playing the same song at the same time.

      Sure, there's 40 odd stations I can recieve, but if they all suck...
    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:52PM (#10960119)
      "There really isn't any reason to splurge on an expensive device when a twist of the dial can tune in just about any type of music that an individual would be interested in."

      That's just it, though: you need to hit the turner and hope you'll find something you want to listen to. If nothing else, satellite radios will tell you when something you want to listen to is coming on and let you tune in automatically. And you also don't have to hit the dial to avoid commercials.

      When was the last time you actually sat down and listened to your radio, as opposed to using it as a noise-maker while focusing on something else?
    • Take away clear channel, infinity, right wing hate radio, religious stations, hip-hop and ethnic stations and there isn't much left. Not even in a major radio market.

      In an area with 50 stations receivable a person is lucky to find one well programmed on that meets their tastes.

      I have Sirius sat radio at home and there are several music channels that I like on it, it has music for just about everyone. Without commercials.
    • by CatOne ( 655161 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @12:06AM (#10960191)
      Except radio is AWFUL... a typical playlist is 15 songs per day, repeated over and over and over. And many radio stations out here in NorCal take 4 1/2 minute commercial breaks... how annoying is that when you're working out? There's way too much blather... I never hear what I want and when I'm somewhere other than home, I can fish on the radio for 15 minutes before finding a song I like... which cuts out 30 seconds later and goes to... commercial.

      With satellite, you can have 5 or 6 commercial-free stations that you like, and "in theory" get them anywhere. In concept it sounds great -- my DirecTV has digital radio stations and I listen sometimes when I'm tired of what I have on the iPod. But in practice, satellite radio reception is a bit spotty (as noted in the article).
      • I can't say any more. will provide you a cheap source of music, and then you can program days and days of music so you can workout till your heart explodes.
    • Um, OK.

      I live in one of the largest metro areas (Phoenix) and only know of one such station. Some truly awesome individual who owns a few small stations took one that was failing and turned it into his own private station [].

      No commercials, no DJs, just non-stop music from his own (huge) playlist, randomly chosen by an automated system. He's got a serious following, even though it's a low-power station. Funny thing is, he could care less.

      But even so, it's an anomaly. He's rich enough to run it at a loss jus
    • You don't live in the New York metropolitan area, do you? Free radio here has SUCKED for years. There is one classic rock station, three "urban" stations, one Zoo, one "adult" modern music station, a few Spanish stations, and a few worthless college-type stations. Oh yeah, and a "smooth jazz" station. They all repeat their own 40 song playlists on a daily basis.

      I already have an XM Roady that I actually use at home (since I don't drive much anymore due to a job change). When the price comes down on M

      • few worthless college-type stations

        Actually, Fordham's station is relatively high-powered and (at least back when I lived in NYC) played some really interesting stuff.

        If you're into classical music there are two first-rate stations, WQXR (the best) and WNYC (almost as good). If you're into oldies WCBS is widely considered the best such station in the country (unfortunately I can't stand the stuff). In general though you're right, most of it is pretty lousy.
    • Umm... how is that insightful? People want MP3s with them. They don't want to be at the mercy of their local radio stations, clearchannel/public/whatever.

      Also, if you ever go somewhere without a signal, you'll want your MP3s.

      It's like suggesting people get rid of DVD players and PVRs, as they should be able to rely on TV to get all their televisual needs :)

    • Even in a major metropolitan area, the selection of FM stations can't come even close to comparing to XM.

      I have a Roady (The Roady2 is $120 or so, same price I paid for my original Roady 9 months or so ago), and I LOVE it.
  • He dosn't get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mkmoose ( 759477 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:02PM (#10959810)
    As a XM user I am drooling over the features offered by this device. I owend a first generation sony PNP and now an XM Roady. This device is light years ahead of the first generation. Comparing this to a I-Pod or MP3 player confuses what the device is. It more correct to compare this to a tivo with cable.
    • So, if I understand what you're saying, it's like apples and lemons...they're both fruit, but have different tastes, as it is with the iPod vs. MyFi.

      Oh, the humor!
    • If XM sold these units to every single one of their subscribers and nobody else, this unit is a failure.

      XM's real value will be growing the supplier base, and this device is designed to do that. I'd say it's competing more in the "portable music" segment then the "satellite radio delivery options" segment, although there is of course overlap there.

      But yes, I do think for a lot of consumers that are considering digital music--especially those considering these devices as gift options this holiday seasion--
  • Recommendation?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:04PM (#10959825) Homepage
    The review recommends waiting for lower price and better features.

    So when is the right time to buy if people take this kind of recommendation seriously?

    Price will be lower than the lower price you saw yesterday, features will be better than the better features you thought that are already better.
    • Re:Recommendation?? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:26PM (#10959958) Homepage
      Both would be nice. But the thing is still a great deal. For the $350, you get the device, a car kit, a home kit, earphones, etc. If you take the little Delphi XM radio I have now ($99), buy the car kit ($99), the home kit ($99), the boombox so you can listen anywhere ($99), you're already over the price (those numbers may be a tad high, like $10 each).

      So for the same or less, this little thing is smaller, portable, AND CAN TIMESHIFT.

      As an XM radio reciever goes, this is THE DEVICE unless you only want to ever listen in your car (which, by the way, would change).

      It's not cheap, but it's a good deal relative to other solutions. Plus you can use it anywhere like a walkman and it could tape Art Bell or This American Life or any other show for you to listen to later.

      I'd LOVE one. I'd suggest that they offer it stand alone (no home/car kits) to lower the price, but I think we all know that would only save maybe $50 bucks because the little device is by FAR the most expensive part.

  • Uhh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fredistheking ( 464407 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:05PM (#10959826)
    >There's no way to transfer the recorded content to >the computer or vice versa.

    Except to connect the headphone jack to your linein. Why is the analog solution usually overlooked so quickly?
    • Re:Uhh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilSporkMan ( 648878 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:09PM (#10959864)
      The analog solution works at 1x - it takes as long to transfer the content as it does to listen to it. This can easily be construed as inconvenient.
    • Because its a senseless limitation. Digital > Analog > Digital from a digital device? Its also needlessly lossy, but I think inconvenience is probably the main one.
    • Agreed - Just record (re-digitize) the analog output onto the machine of choice. And...I doubt that it will take the hardware hackers long to figure out a flash mem transfer method. How hard can it be?
    • Re:Uhh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by iocat ( 572367 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:29PM (#10959975) Homepage Journal
      This continues to kill me. People will listen to tinny, compressed, MP3s all day long and then recoil in horror at the lossyness of a *gasp* analog-to-digital conversion.

      Yeah, it may be a 1x process, but who is out there who will be able to do this and already doesn't already have most of their music digitally anyway. XM is awesome, but I don't usually hear tracks I've never heard before, or old tunes that I simply *must* have. I'd probably only want to grab a couple tracks here and there anyway.

    • Re:Uhh (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook ( 132727 )
      All the sibling replies to this are right. Analog works, but it's a hassle.

      It's Analog. That means that you go from Digital->Analog in the radio (which introduces imperfections). Then it goes from Analog->Digital in the computer (which introduces imperfections). While the quality may be close, it's not the same and without knowing exactly HOW it was compressed origionally, you can't get the same quality to filesize of the origional.

      It's SLOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW. I can fill my 40gig iPod with music in a few

      • ADC and DACs are very good these days. I recall a review of a Sony CD player a few years back. It was one of the first to allow you to record radio to CD, and also let you duplicate CDs. It actually respected the copyright bit on CDs (does anyone remember that?) - you could make digital copies of original CDs, but only analogue copies of copies. The reviewer dismantled the device and provided pictures showing that the device used the same wire to do analogue and digital copies - the only difference was
    • For the same reason people liked high-speed dubbing for copying tapes -- capturing a lot of audio in real time sucks. It's also hassle to chop up 5 hours of music into individual tracks. Granted, you can find utilities to assist with that task with little trouble, but Joe User likely wouldn't try anything beyond Sound Recorder and Winamp.
    • because it's shit?

      Generally, once I have a file in digital format, converting it to analogue and copying it real-time only to re-encode it digitally is the last thing I want to do :)

    • Because re-digitizing can add some very unwanted artifacts due to "aliasing." The stream coming from the headphone jack may "seem" analog, but it's a reconstructed digital signal.

      The problem is aliasing. It's the audio equivalent of the jagged edges you see on digital pictures that are blown up too large. All digital music is aliased at some level, just as all digital pictures are aliased at some resolution. The idea is to sample the original analog waveform often enough so that it doesn't distort wha

  • hmmm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by loid_void ( 740416 ) *
    There's no way to transfer the recorded content to the computer or vice versa.

    not yet, that is...

  • I have one (Score:5, Informative)

    by Texodore ( 56174 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:17PM (#10959902)
    Random notes:

    Everyone keeps saying the iPOD holds more music, has better battery life. I don't seem them competing. Maybe it's just me. The limitations of satellite radio mean you have to have an antenna and specialized hardware that sucks the juice down. But you get a 2,000,000 song library.

    You can record and playback, and it has an alarm. It also comes with a home and car kit. Note that buying a SkyFi2, home, and car kit will almost cost as much as the MyFi.

    I have the MyFi so I can listen while I'm walking my dog. Yes, I like XM that much to want to listen to it over MP3s or something like that. One thing your MP3 collection can't do is turn you on to new music. I wouldn't have known about many new bands (or old bands for that matter) without XM. I don't know if I would know who Muse, The Faint, or Franz Ferdinand were, and I wouldn't have found out how much I like Echo and the Bunnymen and stuff like that.

    I don't think it needs more storage space. The idea is to listen to radio, which is mostly live. I think the recorded feature is for programs you can't pick up when you aren't available (a timer feature will record something for you) and if you can't pick up a signal. It's basically 5 hours of music programming.

    Did I mention the talk radio and the ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 games?

    I like not having to cue up playlists, pick what I want to listen to, listen to new music, etc. XM seems to want to play their deeper library more than Sirius, one reason I like their service more.

    I've had it for 2 days and like it. I need to play with the wearable antenna some more before I say I love it. The signal is spotty outside at times while walking around. I have no problems in my car or at the office. Speaking as someone who is upgrading from the original Sony Xm radio, this is also a huge upgrade.

    Finally, to the editors, stop knocking XM an satellite radio. Half the satellite radio stories seem to denounce it somehow. The AP review doesn't really say anything bad about it. Some of you that knock satellite radio need to try it before worshiping your iPOD again.
    • And MLB! In 2005 XM will have every major league baseball game broadcast. Oh, and, though mentioning it will reveal me to the blue state elites as a red state knuckle-dragger, it's got a 24 hour NACAR channel which is awesome. I just wish it covered all American motorsports, like champ car, Indy, and ALMS.
    • Finally, to the editors, stop knocking XM an satellite radio. Half the satellite radio stories seem to denounce it somehow. The AP review doesn't really say anything bad about it. Some of you that knock satellite radio need to try it before worshiping your iPOD again.

      Thanks for saying that (I've noticed too and I don't get why), and thanks for the review (of sorts). Can I ask where you got yours? Did a local store have it early (they are supposed to be available in "early December"), or were you in on some

      • I ordered from Crutchfield. I'm not a big fan of Crutchfield, but they and Circuit City got them before anyone else and it was a crap shoot to see who got them first. Circuit City did. Oh well. Same price everywhere.

        Best Buy has them sometimes now as well. They're at least on the Best Buy website. If you order on-line they'll ship soon. Check local stock as well - many Circuit City stores have had them in stock, not in stock, in stock, and not in stock again.
    • Everyone keeps saying the iPOD holds more music, has better battery life. I don't seem them competing. Maybe it's just me. The limitations of satellite radio mean you have to have an antenna and specialized hardware that sucks the juice down. But you get a 2,000,000 song library... I like not having to cue up playlists

      I have to take exception here. First, the iPod has a spinning harddrive to power, has to decode mucic files, and then has to store them in ram. All of these actions also require power. Fu

      • All XM music channels are commercial free. The talk ones have commercials, but it's kind of weird. It would take me too long to explain all the public service stuff they play instead of commercials most of the time.

        With the MyFi you can skip songs in the sections you have recorded.

        ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 are COLLEGE conferences. XM plays college basketball and football games.

        Apple did make a good product. I don't knock it. Just making fun of the owners of said product.
      • by beerits ( 87148 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:55PM (#10960135)
        Did I mention the talk radio and the ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 games?

        And iPod does not? Last I checked iPod has brick, parachute, solitaire, and you can download text games on from the internet.

        The ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 are American collegiate athletic conferences, not video games.
      • Did I mention the talk radio and the ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 games?

        And iPod does not? Last I checked iPod has brick, parachute, solitaire, and you can download text games on from the internet.

        Um, brick, parachute, and solitaire are games, but they are not of the same variety as ACC/Big 10/Pac-10 games. Hint: the ACC, Big 10, and Pac 10 are college sports conferences, and the poster was referring to sports games such as football and basketball, of which you listen to broadcasts. They aren't games that you play

    • Let me get this right - you're saying a particular file format, MP3, can't expose you to new music? Are you mad? That's like saying a book can't expose you to a new author. Madness.

      Yes, you have a 2,000,000 song library. You can't choose what you listen to when you listen to it, so it's no good for a party soundtrack (unlike an iPod, where you can queue up a party mix before the party starts).

      Just because you can't figure out a way to get MP3s from artists you know nothing about on your PC, don't cond

      • I doubt it's a knowledge issue. I like the surprise factor involved in being exposed to new music without having to work for it by hunting down MP3's. I think this is what the original poster meant. It's a plus that the MyFi holds the promise of doing this on a mobile platform.
  • of a captive audiance, once again media outlets are using thier money and reach to completely control what people (at least that segment that listen to radio) hear. One source one view one world.
  • by PapayaSF ( 721268 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:44PM (#10960068) Journal
    Combine satellite radio reception with an iPod and you'd really have something! Much cooler and more useful than the much-rumored "video iPod". Of course, there might be licensing issues with this idea as well: will satellite radio services be upset if their broadcasts are recorded and saved?
  • you spend how much to get access to music played by 90% of FM radio stations?? bah! TripleJ FM and web cast, ROX!
  • Price tag (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The reason for the $350 price tag is that you not only get the receiver, but the vehicle kit, home kit, rechargeable battery, headphones, antennas and more. If you compare that to the cost of the SkyFi2 ($100), home kit ($50), car kit ($50), and the boom box ($100); I think for $50 more the portability and convenience of recording up to 5 hours of programming justifies the cost.
  • explaination needed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by solosaint ( 699000 )
    can someone please tell me how xm radio knows you have a subscribtion or not, i dont see how it works since its one way wireless...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There's probably a deviceID in the XM/Sirius hardware, that is associated with your subscription (which you 99.9% probably have to sign up for in order to buy the XM/Sirius hardware...), and when you don't pay the bill or otherwise become a non-subscriber, they send a "disable [deviceID]" data packet down-stream periodically, and you can't listen until you resubscribe/pay your bill, and the devices are always listening, even when they're turned off, so you would need to probably completely unpower them to k
    • When you subscribe, you give them your Radio ID. (Basically a serial number for your radio.)

      They then have the satellites periodically broadcast an "Activate radio ID xyz123" inside their data stream for a few hours/days. The radio is then activated.

      When your sub runs out, they begin periodically broadcasting "Deactivate radio ID xyz123" messages for for at least a few months.

      I've heard that a few people have been able to get free service by activating for a month, then cancelling and leaving the radio
  • Didn't anyone learn from Sony's spectacular failure that people will not buy DRM-crippled crap?

    • How is this DRM crippled?

      What spectacular Sony failure are you talking about?

      This is basically an FM radio with the ability to store a few songs that you listened too over the airwaves. The recording part is only incedental to the real purpose of the device, to have a portable XM satelite receiver, plain and simple.
  • Silly thought but...

    How about a wifi enabled version, that tunes into internet radio stations automatically?

    That is something that I would consider buying.
    • After I posted that last message, I realized that someone is sure to think I meant that we should have a wifi version of the portable satellite radio receiver system, including the car kit etc.

      What I was actually thinking was more along the line of a MP3 player with a wifi reciever built in, that could save internet radio tunes to flash media.
  • Please bring back the XMPCR [], so that I can actually have MyFi, my way.

  • When Satellite Radio (SDARS) first hit the market, I was among those who swore up and down that I would never pay a subscription for radio service. Radio service, one of the easiest obtainable free services around, was fine the way it was.

    It stayed that way until I happened to see a good deal on a receiver and decided that I would go ahead and give it a try, subscription numbers were growing (although this was still while XM was sub-1,000,000) and popularity was increasing. It was one of those things,
    • My concern, and the reason I will probably never subscribe to satalite radio, is that it will become what cable TV has become. Though I beleive cable's marketing pitch was reduced commercials rather than no commercials, but the end result is the same, cable is loaded with commercials, literaly paying to receive advertisements. Already you can see it begining, there are people comlaining about Sirius advertising their own service on the Sirius radio. How long before mini ads pop up? Just a quick mention that
      • Actually, cable "grew out" of broadcast TV - back in the 60's, in order to get TV, you had to have an antenna - a good one, stuck up on your roof. It had to be positioned "just so" - to pick up one of a variety (anywhere from 3-10, I would imagine) of channels - sometimes one position would work well for a few channels, but not all. So, you had numerous rotating methods (mechanical, electrical, manual, etc) and devices on the market (omni antennas, etc) - to make your picture as clear as possible.


  • by DarthWiggle ( 537589 ) <sckiwi@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:01AM (#10960467) Journal
    This thing isn't perfect. Hell, the first personal computers (as we would recognize them today) were heavy, loud, ugly, and could barely calculate a square root. I won't buy this thing, but I will step back and recognize that it's a pretty extraordinary little device: a Walkman-sized box that receives significant and complex information from satellites floating way up in space. Think about that in the context of, say, 1960 ... or 1980. GPS does, broadly, the same thing, but think about how much more limited the bandwidth requirements are for a GPS unit.

    Absolutely amazing.
  • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @01:02AM (#10960472) Homepage
    And here's why:

    1. No commercials on music channels. EVER. Never have had them. XM had to change from commercials to non commercial BECAUSE Sirius wouldn't air commercials.

    2. Lee Abrams.

    Lee Abrams runs the programming at XM. He is the architect of Clear Channel's "cookie cutter" formats.

    3. Cost.

    XM is $9.99 a month.

    But you don't get:

    1. All the channels (some are premium)
    2. Internet streaming access (costs you $5 a month extra)
    3. No discounts offered if you pay annually OR add other receivers to your account.

    Sirius is $12.95 (or $9.95 if you pay annually)


    No wonder Sirius is the service that TALENT seems to be gravitating to. Such as Mel Karmazin. Howard Stern.
    • I must agree that I have listened to both and I like the Sirius playlists much better.

      But I am afraid that Sirius is in trouble, simply because for most people satellite radio == XM. I'm pretty sure this is entirely because Sirius has failed to advertise, especially in the ways that count (like getting auto dealers to offer their decks).

      Lately, I have noticed that chains like Circuit City and Best Buy have been cutting back on their Sirius stock.

      So how is the company doing health-wise, really?
    • 1. You are correct. Sirius music channels have always been 100% commercial free, while XM's haven't. But that's the past. They're now both 100% commercial free music.

      2. Lee Abrams pretty much invented the use of psychographics in radio, which, in a nutshell, is when they tailor a radio station for a specific listening profile. This is EXACTLY what satellite radio specializes in, creating "niche" stations that a small number of people are interested in listening to. See this Wired article [] for more informat

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