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Satellite Radio in Spanish

New Technology Offers Variety of Programming

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Would you enjoy listening to Spanish-language radio, but there are no stations where you live? Or are your choices of Spanish-language radio limited to the type of programming you don't care for?

If so, and you live in the contiguous United States, you have an alternative: satellite radio. As someone who has subscribed recently to a satellite radio service, I have found it is everything it claims to be: a dependable source of a wide variety of programming — including music stations without commercials.

The choice of programming in Spanish isn't extensive, but it is enough to be worth the cost of a subscription.

As this is written, satellite radio is offered by two companies in the United States: XM, which has the most subscribers, and Sirius, which is strongly competitive and offers a very similar programming package. Unless you're a fan of one network or the other's exclusive programming — say, coverage of a certain sports team or a particular on-air personality — or prefer the hardware offered by one company, there's no compelling reason to choose one over the other.

Here's how satellite radio works: Each network has satellites in orbit that beam signals throughout the 48 states, and the networks have recently added programming aimed at Canada as well. (Although the signals can be picked up to parts of Mexico, the companies aren't licensed to sell services south of the U.S. border.) The radios need an unobstructed view to the south, and I have found reception to be good almost everywhere except in mountain valleys or when driving close enough to buildings to be in their daytime shadows. Indoors, you may need to set up an antenna near a south-facing window.

The signals can be picked up only by radios designed specifically for each network; a regular AM or FM radio won't work, and a radio made for XM won't work for Sirius and vice versa. The radios come in home, car and portable varieties; many of the models aren't self-contained but rather pump audio into a home or car audio system or into a dock made for the radio, or broadcast for a short distance over a vacant FM frequency for reception by a home or car radio. Both XM and Sirius also offer subscriptions for service via high-speed Internet, although not all stations are available online.

Radios cost about $50 and up, with discounts often available. Subscriptions cost about $13 per month per radio, although discounts are available for long-term subscriptions or multiple radios.

As of January 2006, here are what the two networks offer in Spanish:

XM:

  • Alegría, channel 90: Latin urban with a mix of reggaeton, rap, hip-hop and rock featuring performers such as Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderón, Héctor y Tito and Ivy Queen.
  • Águila, channel 92: Regional Mexican mix of norteño, tejano, mariachi, banda and ranchera featuring performers such as Jennifer Peña, El Poder del Noche, Pedro Fernández, Los Angeles Azules and Banda del Recodo.
  • Caliente, channel 94: Salsa and other music with a Latin tropical beat featuring performers such as Celia Cruz, Ozomatli, Pacheco, Charanga Habanera and Los Van Van.
  • CNN en Español, channel 134: The soundtrack of the TV news network.
  • XM Deportivo, channel 147: Sports from throughout the world, including World Cup coverage.
  • MLB Play-by-Play en Español, channel 190: Major League Baseball in Spanish.

Sirius:

  • Universo Latino, channel 90: Pop, rock and ballads from Latin America featuring performers such as Luis Miguel, Enrique Iglesias, Chayanne, Maná, Alejandro Sanz and Ricky Martin.
  • Mexicana, channel 91: Contemporary Mexican tejano, norteño, conjunto, ranchera, mariachi and banda with performers such as Vicente Fernández, Intocable, Juan Gabriel and Selena.
  • Rumbón, channel 93: A mix of reggaeton, salsa, tropical and merengue featuring performers such as Daddy Yankee, Juan Luis Guerra, Don Omar, Ivy Queen, Tego Calderón and Marc Anthony.
  • EWTN Radio Católica Mundial, channel 180: Roman Catholic programming.
  • ESPN Deportes, channel 181: Sports coverage in Spanish from ESPN.
  • BBC Mundo, channel 182: International news and other programming in Spanish from the BBC.
Note that the Spanish-language music stations may have announcements that are either in English or bilingual.

Each network also has at least one "world music" station that occasionally include musics in Spanish.

Both networks tweak their programming often, so check with each network for the latest lineup.

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