Hugh Panero’s plan to reinvent radio falls into place tomorrow when a 200-foot rocket escorts a 10,289-pound satellite into space from a launch pad in the Pacific Ocean.
The device will drift into its orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth, allowing Washington-based XM Satellite Radio Inc. to usher in a new era in radio.
The new high-tech radio service that Mr. Panero, XM’s president and chief executive, will help introduce to North American listeners later this summer should interest consumers both for what it is and what it is not. It is free of static and largely free of commercials.
But it is not free, and the nascent satellite radio industry will have to prove the service is worth the monthly subscription fees charged for the service.
The challenges have not deflated Mr. Panero. The 44-year-old former cable industry executive considers himself unflappable, though he does carry a string of “worry beads” in his pants pocket to grab hold of when panic strikes.
“This is a big deal,” he says.
Satellite radio is considered a significant technological development in the history of radio, which has not changed since stations began transmitting FM signals in 1961.
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