An interstate drive, camping trip or romantic get-away can now be filled with special requested, clearly connected and commercial free music, available through satellite radio.”The idea is to be able to listen to one station, or how ever many stations you wish, all across the country,” said Steve Sandlin, chief engineer of the Radio-Television Department. Although the digital radio programming has just hit the market, engineers have been working on the technology for three or fours years, he said.The leading subscriber is XM, as in AM and FM, and is headquartered in Washington D.C. The up and coming company is Sirius in New York City.XM launched two satellites, “Rock” and “Roll,” at the beginning of this year from the Pacific Ocean. The first was launched on March 18 and the second on May 8. The satellites will deliver 100 channels of “crystal-clear, digital-quality music, news and information to cars, homes and other listening environments equipped with a small antenna,” said XM officials.”It’s freedom from static, from distortion, from that frustrating feeling when you drive out of range in the middle of an exclusive interview or a new song you’ve been waiting to hear,” XM said.Those who wish to subscribe to satellite radio would need to purchase a special unit for approximately $100 to $150. Major electronic companies such as Sony are manufacturing these units, according to Sandlin. In addition to the cost of the unit, $10 a month must be paid for the programming. The major advantage to the satellite radio is for those who drive long distances. “If you drive across the desert or across the city you can have clear reception,” said Frank Dobbs, television and motion picture producer. Dobbs, who is also an alumnus of the SHSU class of 1961, said he would love to have taken advantage of the new medium when he drove across six states in 17 days. “Most of the time I was out of range of anything but small local stations,” he said.Sandlin said although he appreciates the new technology, he would not be interested in it due to its lack of local influence. Economics will definitely be affected by the new radio programming. Dobbs speculates that the emergence of commercial free and selective music will force radio stations to become more competitive. Like all new mediums, this will definitely change the way competing technology operates.”Instead of just competing with the big boys out of town, they are competing with the big boys in the sky,” Dobbs said.Sandlin doubts people will purchase equipment such as this in these times of recession. Alpine Electronics, Inc. Delphi Delco, Pioneer Electronics Corporation and the Sharp Corporation will market XM and other radio satellite capable radios and audio systems.For those who are interested in satellite music programming can contact XM at http://www.xm.com or Sirius via the World Wide Web for pricing, services and activation that fits your personal needs.