Satellite Radio Buying Guide

UK radio has come a long way since the radio pirate days of the 1960's.  From a few illegal offshore broadcasts to hundreds of independent and commercial local ones, the variety of and access to radio  in the UK has improved over time.  But as with FM radio in any country, reception varies from region to region, and commercial interruptions often leave us begging for more of the music  and talk radio we love.  With the advent of satellite radio, these pesky issues have become a thing of the past--that is, if you have the money to buy the satellite receiver  and service.

Why People Choose Satellite Over FM

From portable satellite radio that allows you to listen any time, anywhere, to home and car receivers, the advantages that the system has over FM are abundant.  And although the UK faces less challenges in broadcasting than other nations like the U.S. because of its densely concentrated population, satellite radio alternatives are still worth exploring.

  • Forget the static.  Reception is clear, often more so than DAB or HD radio.
  • More content, no commercials. 
  • Variety. Variety. Variety.  Get access to news, music and more in an array of languages.
  • No need for the Ginkgo Biloba .  The receiver often displays the artist, track and album title so you won't forget them.
  • Well-organized categories help you find exactly what you're looking for.
  • No more *beep* noises.  Content is uncensored so you hear it in its entirety.

What To Buy

Upon entering the world of satellite radio, there are several choices you have to make.  The type of receiver, the brand and the type of programming are the most basic of those decisions.  US and Canada based companies that dominate the satellite radio and service industries include Worldspace, Sirius and XM.  And while Worldspace does provide some service to the UK, it is incomplete.  The company hopes to provide more stations--over 250--to the UK by 2010.  Sky Digital, a company specific to the UK, is the only existing provider of full service, offering over 60 stations.  

 Specific features of Sky Digital:

  • Potential listeners: 7.4 million households currently have Sky Digital systems
  • Coverage: UK-wide - in practice, all of Europe - Finland to North Africa with a suitable fixed dish antenna.
  • Now playing capability: No (This means you cannot see artist, track or album information.)

The Receiver

Car Satellite Radio Receivers 

Great for road trips, satellite radio for your car can be installed by an electronics retailer for an additional fee, or can be self-installed (with the help of a do-it-yourself guide).

Popular Sirius Models:

Popular XM Models:

Other Sirius and XM Ready Models: 

Home Satellite Radio 

If you only listen to the radio while lounging at home, this receiver is best.  You can choose from a component tuner which can be easily integrated with the rest of your home theatre , or a simple stand-alone table radio.  Installation of an indoor or outdoor antenna is necessary for either option.

Sky Digital Model:

Popular Sirius and XM Ready Models:


Portable Satellite Radios 

If you can't live without satellite radio, portable is the way to go.  Similar in size to the average MP3 player , portable satellite radios aren't good for just a jog in the park.  They can also be plugged into a home stereo system or a dock  in your car.  Some even have extra features like live streaming video--check out the Pioneer Inno  or the Samsung Helix .  

Sirius Models:

Popular Sirius and XM Ready Models:

The Programming: Channels and Genres

Sirius Radio:

  • Music Stations
    • Pop (including BBC Radio 1).
    • Rock.
    • Electronic/dance.
    • Hip-hop/R&B.
    • Christian.
    • Jazz and blues.
    • Country.
    • Classical.
    • Latin/international.
  • Sports:
    • Football.
    • Basketball.
    • Soccer.
    • NASCAR.
  • Special Programs including BBC Mundo.
  • News/Talk
  • Click here for a complete list of Sirius Radio channels.

XM Radio:

  • Music:
    • Decades.
    • Rock.
    • Hits.
    • Urban.
    • Dance.
    • Country.
    • Jazz and blues.
    • Mature or "lifestyle."
    • Classical.
    • Latin.
    • World.
    • Children.
  • Sports:
    • Baseball.
    • NASCAR/INDY racing.
    • College football and basketball.
  • News/Talk
  • Special Programs
  • Click here for a complete list of XM Radio channels.

Sky Digital:

  • Music:
    • Pop.
    • Rock.
    • Religious/gospel.
    • Ethnic.
    • Classical.
    • Jazz.
    • Top 40.
    • Urban.
    • Easy listening.
    • Adult contemporary.
    • Opera.
    • Children.
    • Oldies.
    • Dance.
    • Inspirational.
  • Sports
  • News/Talk
  • Comedy/Drama/Speech
  • Click here for a complete list of Sky Digital channels.

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