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Beamed Down
December 19, 2005
By loading up on sports, satellite radio has expanded the orbits of fans who love to listen
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December 19, 2005

Beamed Down

By loading up on sports, satellite radio has expanded the orbits of fans who love to listen

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This is how Astros play-by-play man Milo Hamilton, 78, a satellite radio convert, remembers his childhood in the Midwest: "You could barely hear a ball game if you lived in Iowa in those days." You don't have to be Hamilton's age to remember the dark ages of sports radio--when being a Houston fan in L.A. or a Lakers lover in Texas meant not hearing your team's games. Satellite radio, which grew twofold in 2005, has changed all that. Both satellite networks, XM and Sirius, have lured subscribers with an expanding menu of sports programming. (XM has five million subscribers; Sirius has nearly three million.) This year, the first season of an 11-year, $650 million deal with MLB, XM broadcast all 4,860 regular-season major league baseball games plus the playoffs. Sirius also airs the NFL and the NBA, and has acquired the rights to NASCAR starting in '07. (Both networks offer myriad college sports and the NHL.) Which means that even when you're in Iowa these days, you're not in Iowa anymore.

Jock and Roll

SIRIUS LETS an eclectic bunch of athletes release their inner disc jockey. Lance Armstrong, skier Bode Miller, beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh and skateboarder Tony Hawk are among those who spin their favorite tunes and chat on their own weekly shows. The grooviest is Bill Walton (below), who gets back to his tie-dyed roots every Saturday evening on his three-hour Grateful Dead tribute show, One More Saturday Night.

The Most...

Welcome Return
Eight years after his nasty departure, KEITH OLBERMANN is back in the ESPN fold, as a regular on ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick Show. Yes, the old SportsCenter partners still have their rapport.

Entertaining Larry Bowa Has Ever Been Without Cursing
As a cohost of XM's BASEBALL THIS MORNING, Bowa was funny and insightful. The Yankees' gain (he's their new third base coach) will be the listeners' loss.

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