My trip to XM HQ to meet with Lee Abrams

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by TheLongshot, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

    May 12, 2000
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    As some know, I'm very vocal about XM. I've also been very vocal to management about some of their stations. Since the decision to axe Special X, I've been very active in sending E-Mails to the powers that be about problems that I've had with programming. Some have been more successful than others.

    Well, after my latest screed to Lee Abrams about the current state of XM, and my feelings about it, Lee actually wanted to talk to me personally about my problems. At first, he wanted to talk on the phone, but when he realised that I was local, he invited me to headquarters to talk and to take a tour.

    So, this morning, I made my way to Florida Ave to vent my spleen.

    Those who haven't seen the building, XM is basically in an old warehouse and takes up three stories. The first floor has the programming staff, the second floor has the studios, music library and control system, and the third floor is basically the corporate staff.

    So, I arrive there, and in a few minutes, they deliver me to Lee Abrams office.

    It isn't very big, but I swear that every square inch of space on the wall is taken up by gold and platnumn records, all with his name on them. All of it ranges from Yes, to Trixter, to Ray Charles. He also has a keyboard sitting in the middle of the office (with an Inno sitting on top). Underneath the keyboard, he's got newspaper clippings of the White Sox winning the series. I forgot to mention that my wife was a Cubs fan, but I had other things to talk about.

    Basically the main points I wanted to get across was to talk about the failure of XM Music Lab, and what I felt they could have done to make it a better station, the current situation with Da Boneyard, the problem with having a channel like Big Tracks instead of Music Lab, and the repetitiveness of Fine Tuning as of late.

    The answers I got was pretty much what I expected. XM Music Lab is gone because of the Clear Channel thing. Yes, he'd like to bring it back and actually split it into two channels for the prog fans and the jam fans. Yes, he knows about the situation about Da Boneyard and they are looking to hire people. (I had read elsewhere that Lou Brutus, who runs Fungus, has been brought in temorarily.) I got the best answer for Fine Tuning: They are still in the process of converting all of the music for the HD format.

    Mostly, tho, he sat there and listened to me. I'm hoping he took something from that.

    After speaking to him, he passed me off to Billy Zero, who now runs XMU. He's a young, high energy guy. In some ways, he was more helpful than Lee was. Billy gave me a tour of the building, and we spoke on various subjects. It looks like he will be matrixed out to other channels as needed, including Da Boneyard. At one point, we sat down and I talked about some of the CDs that I had brought with me, and what I'd like to see from Da Boneyard. He mentioned that he would like to actually get things in writing about the various bands I'd like to see and where they can be aquired. He made no promises about getting things played, but he did tell me that he'd work to try to make it happen if he felt it was in the best interest of the station. I left him with a copy of Pain Of Salvation's "The Perfect Element, Pt.1", since I had an extra copy.

    So, that was pretty much it. Other than saying my goodbyes to Lee, making another push for the return of Special X, and him telling me that he'd drop me a line the next time Yes stopped by the studio, that was it.

    What did I think? Don't know. I did see this as an opportunity to actually communicate face-to-face with XM, which I think is a good thing. Will anything come of it? Hard to say. Gotta love Billy's energy, but some things still seem to be beyond the control of Lee. At the same time, tho, it seems like things may be changing at XM and maybe for the better. Problem is, it is going to take time. I'm hoping not too much time.

  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    Very nice read -- and certainly a great opportunity.

    I had the chance to visit Sirius headquarters 2 years ago
    and meet with management -- though I walked away highly

    It's nice to see that Lee Abrams took a personal interest in
    your opinions. From what I see over on the XM boards,
    management is very open to the opinions and suggestions of
    its listeners. I do know that XM pays quite a bit of attention
    to what gets posted on the Internet, and the fact you were
    invited to meet with the head honcho of XM just solidifies my
    opinion that they do care.
  3. Doug Miller

    Doug Miller Supporting Actor

    Feb 26, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Doug Miller
    Agree with Ron, good interest by XM in inviting you down. While I understand you are frustrated with some of what's been going on at XM (me too, btw,) I hope you balanced your feedback and suggestions with things that you also liked about their service.

    I could think of a laundry list of things I'd like to see from XM, but if I just give them the laundry list and don't balance it with even a few things that I really like that they do, then it just comes off as sour grapes; so I hope you took the time for positives too -- I'm sure you did.


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