BROOKE GLADSTONE: For those who miss the sonorous tones of Bob Edwards in the morning, despair no more. Starting October 4th, you can tune him in again, for a mere 9.99 a month, plus 99 bucks for an XM satellite radio receiver, on XM133, XM's new "public" radio channel. You'll also find PRI's This American Life, Whad' Ya Know?, Studio 360 (produced here at WNYC), American Public Media's As It Happens and American Mavericks, WBUR's On Point, and a host of other shows that public radio listeners can also find for free on the internet, if not in their own home town station. But, if you want Bob Edwards, well, now --that's going to cost you.
BOB GARFIELD: Of course, it isn't the first time public radio has been on satellite radio. For some time now, NPR has been feeding a slate of programs on two channels of XM's competitor, Sirius. PRI programs one channel on Sirius, and together, they feed such programs as Talk of the Nation, Marketplace, and The World. But NPR has stopped short of offering its flagship shows, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, for fear of siphoning off the audience and revenue of its member stations. So what does it mean that Bob Edwards, who defined the sound of Morning Edition for a quarter century will compete against the stations that once depended on him?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: First, we'll ask what it means to XM. Chance Patterson is XM's spokesman. Welcome to the show.
CHANCE PATTERSON: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Now, Morning Edition, Bob's old gig, was a mixture of pieces and interviews. How will this show compare with that? You won't have NPR's news division behind it.
CHANCE PATTERSON: Well, Bob has a lot of discretion on what he wants to do with this show, but in general, he's indicated to us that many of the interviews that he's done in the past have been cut and end up being 5 to 7 minute pieces. Here, he will be able to have these folks of interest on the air with him as long as they're interesting. And so, it'll be sort of loose. He can dictate what he wants to do on any given day, and, and kind of drive the creative process from there.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Did you find that your competitor, Sirius, is doing well with its public radio offerings, and is that what gave you the thought?
CHANCE PATTERSON: We've always had an interest in public radio, period. I mean the fact that Sirius does not carry Morning Edition or All Things Considered and some of the other so-called premier programs of NPR, you know, it's in some ways not what people really view as NPR without those shows available, and that was one of the reasons why we didn't pursue those, you know, at the time they were available. So, we've taken a different approach. We have recruited who we consider to be the voice of public radio, Bob Edwards, and this is really our first foray into making talk programming and news programming here in-house. So, you know, you react to what your customers want, and certainly public radio is something they've desired.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Is this the first time a big radio star has moved exclusively to XM?
CHANCE PATTERSON: I think so. There is a meaningful milestone here, and it's probably a first in this industry. So we do treat it as a big win. I mean we are just thrilled to have Bob, and we're thrilled to launch this channel.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: You know, there's been some rumor about Howard Stern possibly getting sick of all the FCC fines [LAUGHTER] -- moving away from his syndicators on to XM. That would probably just do it for you guys, wouldn't it?
CHANCE PATTERSON: Well, Howard is obviously similar to Bob. He is a hugely-successful radio person, and he has a major following. But he's under contract with Viacom, and that contract runs until late next year. Would we be excited about having Howard Stern on XM? Sure. But, you know, that's not happening today.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well, I want to thank you for the interview, not least because I've waited all my life in public radio for somebody to say Bob Edwards is similar to Howard Stern. [LAUGHTER]
CHANCE PATTERSON: I don't know if I said that exactly, but I think you got the point.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Chance Patterson is a spokesman for XM satellite radio.