Amplified Observations: Sirius XM delivers an optimal driving experience worth the cost

When semester breaks roll around, I always look forward to the long drive back home to Pennsylvania mainly for two reasons.

One is that I get to take in the rustic Appalachian landscape and the other is that my parents’ car has Sirius XM. Oh and I like to see my parents, too, so I guess that’s three reasons then.

But aside from the two givens, having Sirius XM for roadtripping or just driving in general vastly improves the whole experience.

Formed from a 2008 merger between Sirius and XM, the commercial-free satellite radio service provides a diverse selection of high quality music including several channels surprisingly dedicated to niche genres and deep cuts almost never played on FM radio. Their channel 27 is even called “Deep Tracks” for that sole purpose.

Many Sirius XM channels tend to be narrowly focused on specific eras or sounds of music rather than the umbrella terms of “classic rock,” “alternative rock” or “rap.” For example, a channel called “The Bridge”  focuses on mellow 70s rock and folk acts like James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon and an assortment of the likes. This one usually stays on if my dad is in the car.

Classic rock is also divided between 60s and 70s on “Classic Vinyl” and the later stuff on “Classic Rewind,” giving listeners the freedom to choose.

Columnist Luke Furman determines whether Jim Morrison’s poetry could get an A in a high school English class or if it would come up short.

Conversely, there are also more loosely-focused channels that broadcast a variety of brand new and less established artists. Channel 44, “Hip-Hop Nation” is on rap songs nearly as soon as they’re released, and the Eminem-created “Shade 45” features the popular show “Sway In the Morning” on top of uncensored verses.

For all needs indie, “Sirius XMU” and “Alt Nation” play everything working its way through the music blogs along with some classic indie artists like Yo La Tengo. And for the birth of indie, you can tune to channel 33, “1st Wave,” for some of the earliest alternative/indie rock like R.E.M. and The Smiths.

And apart from being in a tunnel, all of these channels come in crystal clear from a satellite, seasonable to taste with the bass and treble knobs of your car radio.

Of course, like many things, cost is a major downside to Sirius XM. However, if you can shell out an extra $20 a month, it saves paying for data to stream music on-the-go and allows for more song variety than an iPhone can hold. Even so, with options in each style of music in addition to sports, talk, comedy and news, the experience is unmatched by other streaming services, at least while in the car.

For college students stretching every penny, it might not be the best use of money, but it’s nonetheless a great service that might put the subwoofer you bought in high school to good use. And if you can afford it or even have access to a car, then color me jealous.

Luke Furman is a sophomore studying journalism and a reporter for The Post. Do you use Sirius XM? Tweet him @LukeFurmanOU or email him at

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