The Race for the Future of Radio

From TIME Digital: Satellite radio is coming, and two titans are slugging it out for market share

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There's something so comfortably low-tech about radio -- it evokes vacuum tubes, wooden cabinets, old-time superheroes, the '50s. But it's the '90s now, and the race for the future of radio is as cutthroat as any other high-tech market. The prize? Dominance in the emerging field of satellite radio.

Satellite radio is just what it sounds like -- radio signals broadcast from an orbiting transmitter -- but it'll have huge advantages over conventional radio. Satellite radio can blanket the country with its signals, so you'll never drive out of range of your favorite station; zones that a satellite can't reach, such as areas with tall buildings, will be taken care of by ground-based relay stations. Satellite radio is also much clearer than conventional radio, and it can offer hundreds of different channels, some of which (or so its promoters promise) will be commercial-free. MORE >>