Here at Prescription Bluegrass, we've long been dismayed at the way SiriusXM treats their bluegrass fans. The news story which broke yesterday regarding their use of the Bluegrass channel for special holiday programming is just one more in a long list of reasons why.
Pre-empting channels for special holiday music is not new to the satellite radio outlet. They even have a Facebook page for their Hanukkah channel going back to 2009 that shows they've taken over other channels on their service for the season.
In his news story, John Lawless at BLUEGRASS TODAY says, "This is another sign of the diminished value the company (SiriusXM) sees in its bluegrass product."
SiriusXM has numerous channels dedicated to Country music, even more to various Rock formats where the impact to the community would not be as noticeable. Why they chose to let the bluegrass community do without is only a guess on our part but we suspect it's because they don't see "Bluegrass" as a distinct and separate genre of music as do the folks inside the bluegrass community. It is obvious in more ways than one that they see bluegrass as just one more in their string of country channels.
The change to specialized Hanukkah music will occur at midnight on Sunday, December 6, and bluegrass programming is set to resume on the 15th. During that time bluegrass subscribers will lose their favorite music on their satellite receivers and only be able to access the bluegrass channel online.
Lawless suggests that clear and courteous communication to SiriusXM, indicating your feelings, can be addressed to Steve Blatter, Senior Vice President of Music Programming in New York. Blatter’s company email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The SiriusXM switchboard at their NY office is 212-584-5100.
Bluegrass Radio personality Terry Herd who was at one time the Format Manager of the Bluegrass channel at Sirius during the formative years weighed in and commented that, "Your input matters. As frustrating to all of us as this is, remember, there is a proper way to respond. Be respectful in your communication and know that you will be heard." In addition to Blatter's contact information, Heard adds Stott Greenstein's name as a possible person in charge who may be responsible for the executive decisions regarding programming. Mr. Greenstein can be contacted via email at: email@example.com
Another bluegrass fan called the SiriusXM Listener Care customer service number and asked for a two week extension or a cancellation of his subscription. He reported that they instead offered him a credit which amounted to a little more than one month's service. Where he feels that may have been an adequate compensation for him personally, it..."does nothing for the artists who will lose the exposure."
Rhonda Vincent said she called Sirius and had to insist on talking with a manager before she was given a $10 credit.
Still the mystery of why they feel a need to replace the bluegrass channel remains when the company has over 400 channels from which to choose. With that many, wouldn't another channel - say one dedicated to baseball perhaps - be a better choice?
Award winning songwriter and bluegrass advocate Becky Buller posted an "Action Alert" calling for bluegrass fan to be heard.
"Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to Sirius/XM, I implore you to please write in or call "the powers that be" over there to politely, yet firmly voice your concern about this decision. Please show them that bluegrass listeners DO in fact bring them a bunch of money...money they will lose if they discontinue this station. Please show them we're a class act, there are lots of us and we care."