A serious question about Sirius

Do you readers out there have any experience with Sirius satellite radio in your cars?

I have a new ride home and it came with Sirius. The trial period is going to expire soon.

Do you use it?  Is it, in your opinions, worth it?  Disappointed? Pleased?

I do wind up on taking long driving trips. I usually listen to audio books instead of the radio.      Satellite and having the same channels anywhere might be a game changer.  When I listen to the radio, it is usually talk radio or classical music.


I think that I will allow the trial of Sirius to lapse and I will not, for now, subscribe.  Sirius has some good features, but I tend to listen to talk radio that they don’t carry.  Also, I can stream many things through my iPhone and patch it through to the car’s system.

I appreciate the feedback!  As always, you are an informative lot.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. moho81 says:

    We have it in one of our cars, and it has been worth it! Some of the stations tend to repeat the same songs over and over again, but that’s not true of all of them. I’m in the market for a new car, myself (my old battle axe isn’t car seat friendly), and I’m definitely looking to have Sirius in it.

  2. sirknight says:

    Fr. Z-had Sirius in my last car–loved it, mostly kept it on the Catholic Channel, but also listened to news/talk stations on long trips as well. Also carried all the NFL games and a lot of baseball. Definitely worth the expense!

  3. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I got a free trial when I purchased my current car in 2011. I drive 25-30 miles each way in my daily commute (variations due to different possible routes), so it seemed like it might help fill some time. I renewed for a year twice, but probably won’t renew again. It bothers me that some of the money I pay goes to things like Howard Stern. Much of the Catholic programming doesn’t hold up that well. The classical music playlists feature a great deal of repetition and are slanted pretty heavily to more recent composers (I prefer Bach, Buxtehude etc.). While they generally do well on jazz, their country and gospel music selections are wretched.

    I often listen to Pandora at work and am considering running that through Bluetooth into the car stereo during commute time.

  4. brushmore says:

    After using Sirius for a few years now I find it hard to go back to plain old fashion radio. My favorite channel is EWTN but the music choices are great.

  5. av8er says:

    I like it. I’ve had it now for about 2 years. I mostly keep it on EWTN and FOX NEWS. I used to listed to the Catholic channel but not anymore, there is one guy in the morning who is good, that’s it. When the family is with me, we listen to music. I used to use a phone charger/radio transmitter to play talk radio/pandora from my phone through the radio but in remote areas it drops out. That does not happen with satellite radio. The few times I listen to the pops or classical channels, I’ve enjoyed it. Those are the channels my parents listen to.

  6. trad catholic mom says:

    We started with XM around 2006 and then they merged with Sirius. I think it depends on how much you listen to the radio and what type of programming you listen to. I no longer have it in my daily driver because my husband drives the car with the built in receiver since I got my new car a few years ago. He listens to it all the time though. He is much more of a radio person than I am, I prefer choosing my own music and tend to listen to stuff outside the mainstream. It’s nice for staying up to date on what’s new outside your preferred genre. It’s turned me onto some artists I had realized I’d like.

  7. frjim4321 says:

    I like it, there a big selection.

    I confess, I’m hooked on the Zimmerman Trial (this month’s “trial of the century”) and I can hear the whole think on HLN.

    If you ever lend your car to minors, you absolutely have to lock out some channels with the parental controls.

    Whatever you do, don’t pay full price. Tell them you can’t afford to pay the full price, and play with them for a while. You should get it for at least half the stated rate, or less. A friend told me she got them down to $75 for an entire year.

    “Catholic Channel” I find interesting, though weird. Corny humor and sometimes obnoxious.

    “POTUS” was good prior to the election, but since I have not listened.

    The old time radio is good for when I have family in the car for a long trip.

  8. momoften says:

    We got the Sirius on a car, and renewed it for a year. If you wait until it almost expires,
    they slash the price drastically. Obviously, there is some crap on it. But my kids have
    loved the old time Radio Classics when we are driving a distance. There is also Pops,
    all sorts of classics, oldies, talk shows, just a lot. I don’t care for radio with the commercials
    though they do have that every 2 hours, and it isn’t as junky as the regular radio. Also, I believe with a Sirius account you can stream it into your laptop from their website. Another advantage is if you do want to listen to something, it doesn’t fade out in the car when traveling …………..I think if you
    renew it for a year, then evaluate how much you use it after a year you will know. Note, when
    renewing tell them you want to do it year to year, otherwise they want to automatically charge
    your card.

  9. frjim4321 says:

    All credit authorization are for automatic renewal, regardless of what they tell you. You have to remember to call them before the term renews at the standard rate.

    I think you have to pay extra for streaming to a computer.

  10. I had Sirius-XM for years. Got it upon the recommendation of my brother-in-law. Very much enjoyed listening to the classical music, pops and opera stations during long drives as well as driving to/from work. That said, I ended my subscription when it ran out. For the cost, I could use the disc player far more efficiently. I also found I was listening to the radio without needing to listen to it…hearing the same stuff over and over, slowly becoming addicted to noise rather than silence. Don’t miss it at all but it took a couple of months.

  11. Satellite radio is wonderful for going across the country. You aren’t affected by dead network zones or having to search for a local radio station, as we experienced in our RV trek out West. Local driving lends less time for program variety and length, making less economic sense – especially if you prefer the local news and weather station.
    We dropped our subscription, but at times I miss the ease of setting a channel for whatever genre and forgetting about fooling with regular stations or a mobile device.

  12. FloridaJoan says:

    hello Fr Z,

    We have XM and Sirius in one vehicle. I prefer Sirius because of EWTN. Trying to use XM in the countryside in the mountains is a challenge ( too many big trees interfere with the satelite signal).
    I would give up the XM BUT not the Sirius. Also, I renewed our Sirius a few years ago and got a great deal ( I think I paid about $300 +/- for a lifetime subscription with 2 radio changes ). Not a bad deal !

    pax et bonum

  13. Mike says:

    I have had the free trial twice. I don’t care for it. There is only one blues channel. The Catholic channel is a joke. The classic rock and motown are fun, I will admit. The news channels are chatter and adds…C-span radio is better, and free.

  14. Priam1184 says:

    Definitely worth it Father, especially on long trips. All sorts of talk (French, English, and Spanish language) radio, sports, music, and audio feeds of the cable news channels.

  15. OrthodoxChick says:

    I’ve never had Sirius, but I second “Gregg the Obscure’s” Pandora suggestion. Our family loves Pandora. It’s free to download to your smartphone and it’s free to run on both your PC and/or your mobile devices. There are some ads, but you get to create your own station and program it with the artists and genre(s) that you prefer. Since you’re running it through a mobile device that is Wi-Fi dependant, the signal will obviously not be as reliable as a satellite. But when driving through more urban areas, you could still bookmark and live stream EWTN, Fox News, (or even ibreviary, livemass, etc.) through your phone/tablet in addition to music. Just keep a few CD’s in the car to pop in for when your’re out in the sticks without a signal. It’s not as convenient as satellite radio, but with some of the prices people above were tossing around ($300???), heck you could keep the $$ and buy yourself an ipod instead.

  16. TomG says:

    There is a lot of garbage on Siriux/XM. The Met Opera and classical music channels are great though. Agree on old time radio; brings back a lot of memories for this early baby-boomer. If you sign on, send them a check. That way you can dodge the auto-renewal if you don’t want to keep it. And you can deal with them on price. My daughter did; it worked and it worked for me, too. I pay only $7.00/mo.

  17. TomG says:

    OrthodoxChick: that’s $300 for a *lifetime* subscription!

  18. Kent Wendler says:

    Most of our driving is for very short distances and not much of that, so a satellite radio subscription is just not worth it for us. For those very occasional long distance drives we do take I have been burning my own “jukebox CD’s” (MP3 encoded, around 12-13 hrs programming/disc). It does not get me EWTN, but it does give me the chance to again listen to my old Ferrante & Teicher LP’s and other analog recordings, which I know we like and could not otherwise hear. (Don’t worry, I scrupulously respect the source copyrights – just 1 transcription for personal use.)

    It’s also a bit of a part time hobby, with the “acoustic cleaning” and all.

  19. OrthodoxChick says:

    I can see $7.00/month. People pay way more than that for coffee (unless they’re smart enough to homebrew their own Mystic Monk and take it on the road with them). But $75? Or that $300 “lifetime” of 2 cars??? Yikes!!! Today’s cars are made to last only as long as the lease does and then the fun starts. So figuring planned obsolescence into the equation, what is a 2 car lifetime in today’s terms? Maybe 10 years? 12-15 if you baby it? Will Sirius still be in business by then?

  20. CaliPriest says:

    I love satellite radio. I spend about four hours in the car a week, most of it out in the country where there are very few land-based stations. I HIGHLY recommend getting one that can record songs as well and that allows you to schedule a recording. I have hours and hours of music saved on mine, which is great if you’re driving somewhere where the reception isn’t good (e.g. in a town with lots of trees). For some crazy reason, though, SiriusXM only offers EWTN over the internet.

  21. AvantiBev says:

    As an actress I seem to have taken a vow of poverty following my vocation. ;-) Having driven lots of beaters and depended on the CTA for lo these many years, I am grateful for my fuel-saving, dependable, little Ford Focus and its AM/FM/CD. However, when riding in my sister’s more expensive car with Sirius XM I really enjoy it especially the Sinatra Channel. My sister got it on a trial basis and wouldn’t think of going back to regular radio unless FORCED to ride in her big sister’s putt-putt car. Two film auditions this coming month so someday Sirius Sinatra Channel and seat warmers will grace a car I own.

  22. nasman2 says:

    I have XM but it doesn’t have EWTN but Sirius does, I prefer that to the Catholic Channel. But I use it mainly for baseball and hockey. Definitely get them to cut a better deal than advertised prices, you can pay significantly less, but you have to badger them at every renewal, a necessary evil. They don’t have my credit card on file and I request an invoice. This keeps any automatic renewals from occurring.

  23. kelleyb says:

    We have the service in two of our vehicles. I listen to talk, Fox, EWTN, classical, Country and toddler stuff for the little grands. I really enjoy the service.

  24. markomalley says:

    I don’t know how cell phone coverage is going between the Cities and the Sabine Farm, but if cell phone coverage is “EDGE” or better, I think you’d do just as well, if not better, by using a streaming media app on your iPhone. [Of course, that is contingent upon how much data is available on your cell plan, too]

    I used to have a Sirius radio and made regular use of it…that is until I got my first good Smart Phone. After that, I never listened to it and promptly dropped it after the end of that contract. The trouble is, in my opinion, there are 150+ channels of garbage and about 10 channels that are worth hearing. And out of that, the programming is such that you may not care for the program playing at that moment. Just like broadcast radio. With streaming media, you can listen to your favorite radio station…and then switch to a podcast…and then listen to a vinyl that you ripped back on the farm…and so on and so forth.

    Of course, if there is really lousy cell phone coverage for most of the trip from the Sabine Farm to where you’re going, then that is definitely a factor.

  25. DavidR says:

    I got a free trial when I purchased my Toyota in 2012; never signed up. For Lent 2011 I gave up listening to the radio while driving to and from work; that free time allowed me to say my prayers and five decades every morning. After Lent, I just kept it up and I believe I’m much better for it.


  26. Unwilling says:

    If you had not mentioned talking books, I would have said more pretty about sat radio. I had it in a company car for a couple of years and certainly the talk shows (and it has a gazillion shows) made the travel go quickly. But you did mention talking books. We cut off our cable TV in 1994 and have not looked back. We rent a DVD to see a movie, if we hear of a good one (rarely!) or read books or spend time surfing blogs. You’d miss the talking books. We are listening to Vergil’s Aeneid (in tr.) these days.

  27. B16generation says:

    I use Sirius in the car for EWTN!! (and classical music and Fox News)
    Listening to great Catholic programming on Sirius is the best use of your time and money. In fact, I heard the “Habemus Papam” announcement live on Sirius while on a road-trip.
    It’s too bad you have to pay for all of the channels (and there are some really raunchy ones) in order to get a few good ones.

  28. Tom Ryan says:

    A few minutes listening to The Catholic Channel will convince anyone here that EWTN ain’t that bad.

  29. thefeds says:

    Fr. Z, I’ve had Sirius since 2005 and wouldn’t buy a car without it. Two full time Catholic channels, EWTN and the Catholic Channel (NYC archdiocese) every manner of news, talk, and music, sports, etc… Lots of trash, too, but easy to ignore. Great for long trips.

  30. Weetabix says:

    I’ve only used Sirius on cross country drives in rented cars. As often as not, I’d frequently also put in audio books or CD’s I’d brought with me.

    Our new-to-us car has Sirius with no subscription. I won’t end up getting a subscription because, while Sirius is really neat and has lots of good stations, other options are equally attractive to me for less money.

    Your mileage may vary. ;-)

  31. I have Sirius radio in both my vehicles, as well as a couple home docking cradles, and use it very frequently. Living in an area with scant selection of terrestrial radio, the ability to listen to news, music, EWTN, etc. is very much a necessity. Yes, there’s some garbage, like any major media today, but there is also good material to be found for those long road trips.

  32. acardnal says:

    A priest with two cars. Wow! [Nooooo.]

  33. lizaanne says:

    I typically get six months to a year of it for free when I turn in my lease vehicle for a new one. I have yet to pay for it, but I’m very VERY tempted!!! I really love, especially when we have to make some long trips. Although typically it’s my husband fighting for the 80s channel, and I’m fighting for the 70s channel. :-)

    Lino Rulli bugs the daylights out of me. However it is nice to flip over to the Catholic stuff now and again when they are saying prayers, or Mass. I am not one for talk radio.

  34. Jeannie_C says:

    Had it for a few years, gave up on it after the XM/Sirius merger – customer service was incredibly poor, channels tended to repeat play, and the number of channels I actually wanted to listen to declined.. MP3 CD or Ipod.. more choices.

  35. NBW says:

    For me, not worth it. Had XM, then they merged with Sirius and it went downhill from there. For what they charge I could subscribe to Catholic Militant and have Catholic content 24/7. I just listen to Jazz or Relevant Radio in the car.

  36. NBW says:

    Also, I agree with Jeannie_C; the channels were good at first then the choices became limited.

  37. plaf26 says:

    Tried it, didn’t like it for classical music. Has a glassy, tinkly sound, like wind chimes or a crystal chandelier in a breeze–awful! But I know a bishop who travels the roads of his rural diocese A LOT, and for him it’s a godsend. Listening to the old time radio mystery shows makes the time and the miles go by for him.

  38. Luvadoxi says:

    I like having Sirius although I hate the automatic renewal feature. I listen to EWTN, and there are speciality channels–it’s worth it just for those–60s, 50s, 40s music. And there’s an all-Elvis channel!

  39. APX says:

    My parents have it and seen to enjoy it on long trips. My dad also has it set up that he can use it from his stereo in the garage whenever he’s outside working. He just tapes the satellite to the outside of the door.

    Personally, my taste in music is too eclectic for satellite radio, so I just stick to my iPod.

  40. padredana says:

    I had Sirius for a number of years, but then suddenly realized that almost everything I listened to (EWTN, FoxNews, and The Catholic Channel) I could get free on my iphone via various apps. Also, since they have a number of “Adult” channels I didn’t feel comfortable giving my money to them. So I cancelled Sirius and do not miss it in the least.

  41. gracie says:

    I have Sirius in my home and keep it at the ‘radio classics’ channel a lot when I’m getting work done. The old radio shows from the 1930’s to the 1960’s are a lot of fun to listen to. Their ‘classical’ pops station also is excellent. For the car I listen to the music I’ve downloaded on my iPhone or else listen to one of the ‘Journey Home’ podcasts.

  42. robtbrown says:

    I had it on a new care for 6 mos. Didn’t use it very much (and so didn’t renew it) because I have so much music on a memory stick.

    Smart phone with Pandora would be another alternative.

  43. acardnal says:

    I wouldn’t pay for Sirius/XM subscription. There are too many free alternatives. Kinda like AAA: Many car makers and auto insurance companies cover road side service now.

  44. boko fittleworth says:

    The two Catholic channels are hit and miss. I like the news and sports talk. And the Grateful Dead channel has concerts in their entirety a few times a day. Makes the DC commute bearable and sometimes even enjoyable.

  45. Allan S. says:

    I am not renewing due to the utterly banal nature of the Catholic Channel, which is hosted by a pair of adolescent haters of all beauty and tradition. They explicitly mock chant, communion on the tongue, the Eucharist, devotions, the Rosary – you name it. I was shocked that one is a priest. Disgusting.

    That said, the is a nearby Protestant channel from which I have learned a great deal about the Bible. The show even takes time to explain “What Catholics believe” when our faiths differ on scripture. Great integrity, and clearly smart people. Wouldn’t it be nice if Catholics could air an intelligent, adult discussion like that?

    On Sirus, we are the poor cousins.

  46. skip67 says:

    I have XM, in two of my cars, and also as a gift to my two sons, it is in theirs as well. I have a rotation of about 15 music stations I listen to, as well as old time radio, and news stations such as Fox news channel , and conservative talk stations. And sports stations, of course! If I could get it on my Sportster, I would, lol

  47. eiggam says:

    If you decide to listen to Pandora from your phone via Bluetooth, get the paid service Pandora One. Otherwise you will have to grit your teeth during the ads for contraceptives.

  48. BalmerCatholic says:

    Picked up a new (to-us) vehicle almost two years ago. Happened to be right around Thanksgiving, and SiriusXM was having their free broadcast. Since this vehicle is the one we usually take on the longer duration trips, it only made sense to pick up the service. There is plenty of variety for us, though we stick mainly with the decade music stations and some conservative talk (personally, I prefer to listen to Mark Levin on XM, since it’s live, his Baltimore affiliate has some pointless ad on during the first hour, which moves him to an hour tape delay and cut due to the show being longer, and unable to get WMAL AM or FM where we live). And it’s great to hear some familiar voices for some of the sports teams I follow, especially since I do happen to live near some of their rivals.

    I would like to be able to get over on the Sirius side of things. Maybe when I replace my current daily driver (and obviously when I’ve secured new employment, of course).

    As for the stuff people dislike about the services, don’t pay for those and don’t listen to them. They’re extra for a reason. We’ve been able to get by without those particular channels, and have had zero interest in frequenting them to begin with.

  49. av8er says:

    @ Allan S. totally agree with your description of the “Catholic” channel. EWTN much better. I tune in to EWTN to learn. Particularly Catholic Answers, Right Here Right Now with Patrick Madrid, John Martinoni and other apologists. I am a cradle Catholic with neglible catechesis so I love these programs. I had no idea who mother Angelica was until recently and I am not proud of that. What a holy and orthodox woman.

    Could I play it through my phone? Yes, but it’s easier to turn the key and what I want is already playing. I also travel between two cities several times a month and the programs drop out unless I’m listening to stuff off my Ipod.

  50. donato2 says:

    Bob Dylan’s Theme Hour show makes it worth it in my opinion.

  51. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    It just came on my new 2013 Equinox lease (great vehicle, btw). I had not had satellite radio since being outraged at having to spend 45 minutes to cancel the old XM Radio after I had renewed it. You cannot cancel these things any other way once you give them your credit card number, but to call them, and good luck getting through. I don’t know if Sirius is as bad as XM, but they even hung up on me because quitting time came after I was on hold for 20 minutes. In the meanwhile, they kept charging me until I had the 45 minutes to spend on hold.

    I will say that it is tempting to try renewing it and telling them they do not have authorization to auto-renew. When I got the car, the dealer had Fox News preset, which I didn’t realize was covered. I too have listened to the Zimmerman trial while in the car.

    But, to those who want EWTN and don’t have Sirius, something worth considering if you have an iphone is to get the EWTN app and just map the bluetooth or use a hard connection to the car, if one is available. I think they have one for Android devices.

    I use the ooTunes app on my iPhone a lot in the car. I paid a one time fee of $4.99 and when it first started it had 160,000 stations. I’m sure it is much more now. When I was first looking for an app, I was interested in conservative talk radio options and, at the time a few years ago, Pandora didn’t offer those kind of channels. So, I fired Pandora and got the ooTunes app. I think that is exclusive to iPhone. Just do a search on that. I listen to everything from Classical to music of different generations, but my favorite is Live Ireland. I also like a channel carrying movie soundtracks (mostly classical).

  52. TopSully says:

    Yes, I have it and love it. Baseball starting with spring training, The Catholic Channel, some of which is very good, some of which is very bad, a channel playing nothing but ’40s music, what’s not to love? Plus I really like some of the old radio serials they play on Radio Classics. Gunsmoke, Superman, Dragnet, The Shadow, etc.

  53. acroat says:

    I have XM Sirius which doesn’t have EWTN unfortunately. I would recommend not listening to “Catholic Radio” if you have a blood pressure issue. A few good programs but most are immature and need to study the faith.

  54. acroat says:

    BTW I insist on a bill & pay by check so they can’t auto renew.

  55. Fr AJ says:

    I bought a mobile XM radio for my car about 2 years ago and I LOVE it! My main channels are the Catholic Channel (geared towards the engaging the young), Old Time Radio, Conservative Talk, sports, 40’s big band music. Now if only Rush was on it!

  56. Brandon Underwood says:

    I do highly recommend Sirius. I have had an external Sirius radio in my car for years, which I have used to listen almost exclusively to EWTN. But there are also a lot of great music selections (all types) that I listen to quite often as well.

    I no longer listen to political talk radio, so cannot speak for the talk radio selections.

    Interestingly, I purchased a car a few years ago that had XM, which to my horror does not carry EWTN, only “The Catholic Channel”. I tried to listen to TCC for a while, but it eventually drove me crazy. There were no serious theological discussions or apologetics, only a bunch of people trying to prove that you can be hip and be Catholic at the same time, but nothing of any substance.

    Thus, I canceled my subscription to XM and installed my external Sirius radio in my XM equipped car. So EWTN is now back.

    Another point to consider however is that you can now listen to a lot of radio stations (including EWTN) through radio player applications on your Smart Phone or iPhone if you have one. Thus, I may no longer need a Sirius subscription, if only to get EWTN. But again, I do like the music channels too and would miss them if they were gone.

  57. danidunn says:

    It’s like cable TV. So many channels and nothing worth listening to.

    Typically, when driving long distances I load Fr. Z podcasts onto my iPhone and listen to them : )

    Otherwise, the thought of paying royalties to the likes of Lady Gaga makes me not appreciate the “good” things on Sirius/XM.

  58. Madre5 says:

    Although the product is good..the company is terrible. Never, ever give them a credit card number…..they automatically renew and often at a 100% increase….and calling is a nightmare. Customer service is horrendous…just google ‘renewing/cancelling Sirus/XM’ and the HORROR stories will appear…this company is terrible.

  59. timroddy says:

    You can listen to simulcast of FoxNewsChannel which is nice and all MLB games on radio with local announcers (think Vin Scully), the question Father Z is “What color Bugatti did you get?”

  60. mrshopey says:

    The one problem we had with Sirius was when we went to cut it off; impossible! We were left with calls unanswered to being in a random loop of “press this for help” which lead to nowhere. We contacted them via snail mail to inform them of our termination only to receive a response that ours was being turned over to a collection agency! Our bill would not even have been due yet! anyway, besides that severe pain, we enjoyed it. And yes, we finally resolved our termination. If I remember correctly, they were told they had to accept people who wanted to disconnect, not just ignore them then turn over to collection agency.

  61. Sam says:

    I know this is a week late, but I just read this and thought I’d chime in. I listen to the “Catholic Channel” a lot on SiriusXM. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being “hip and Catholic”. Apparently many of the commenters here think Catholic radio must be serious in-depth theological discussion all of the time and we can never have any fun. The hosts that Allan S. referred to are only hosts of one show, and I agree that they seem to be scornful of some Catholic traditions, though not as bad as Allan characterized it. If you just tuned in and happened to listen to their show, you should not judge the entire channel based on just them. The morning show host is very conservative and informs listeners about current issues such as the HHS mandate, the gay “marriage” rulings, and such. The evening show is a fun Q&A forum hosted by a priest where people call in with questions about the Catholic faith. I have never found any of his answers to be against Catholic teaching. There are also various other informative shows. I adhere to the saying that “you will know them by their fruits.” I have heard many callers say that they have either became Catholic or returned to the Church due to listening to the shows on the Catholic Channel. Their coverage of the last conclave and the election of Pope Francis was the best I’d ever heard. They are sending a team to cover World Youth Day. So, I think it fills a vital role in the new evangelation.

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