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"You know what a singer is? Someone with a hole in his heart as big as his ego." — Bono

Column: Off the Record...Vol. 20-787

@U2

U2XRADIO2

When it was announced that U2 would have a channel on SiriusXM, I was not impressed. I was not a subscriber and was not interested in signing up for another streaming subscription of content that I could get elsewhere. Who needs a radio station playing U2 music when I have a shelf of the stuff in physical format and Spotify to hear it with a click of the button in streaming form? Not me.

Then, mysteriously, my wife received an offer for three months of free satellite radio. That satellite radio button had not been pressed since the free trial that she got when she bought the car had expired more than ten years earlier, but we figured free was free and this would give us something new to listen to occasionally. Well, occasionally turned into whenever we were driving because our four-year-old daughter LOVES the Beatles and demanded that we play the Beatles Channel whenever we were in the car. My wife and I love both the Beatles and a happy passenger, so we readily complied with her demand.

After listening to the Fab Four radio station for a few months, I began to wonder what the U2 station would sound like when it launched. What elements of the Beatles station would work well on the U2 channel? I listened to the Pearl Jam and Tom Petty channels when my daughter was not in the car and heard more things that I liked. Artist-specific satellite radio stations were not just the artists’ music on shuffle, it was radio shows and concerts and exclusive content and now my mind was racing thinking about what I’d like to hear when U2X RADIO hits the air.

The Beatles Channel (channel 18) has several really cool regular programs, like “Breakfast With The Beatles,” “Northern Songs With Bill Flanagan” and “Dark Horse Radio” which focuses on my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. My favorite show, however, is “Peter Asher: From Me To You.” Peter has been a friend of the Beatles from their earliest days, and he fills his weekly radio shows with stories and recollections about the band while playing Beatles tunes and songs associated with the band in some way. Similarly, the U2 circle of friends contains many members dating back to the pre-U2 years. I would imagine that a show like Peter’s, with Gavin Friday or Neil McCormick telling stories and playing the tracks that inspired them back then, would provide a lot of insight and entertainment for even the most knowledgeable listener. Hearing stories from friends in the context of a weekly radio show would be wonderful, I think. I’d love it if the U2X RADIO lineup contains radio shows hosted by members of the U2 community.

Pearl Jam Radio (channel 22) doesn’t have the same depth in radio programs that the Beatles Channel has, but it does have two or three complete concerts every day, which is gold for PJ fans. U2 fans too, I’d imagine. As incredible a live band as U2 are, their live recording output has been incredibly limited, with only one or two shows from each tour being made officially available, and even those are edited and incomplete. The torrent sites and YouTube videos are evidence that there is a wealth of great material out there and a demand from fans to gain access to it. U2X RADIO would be a great place for U2 to release the recordings of their shows in a format that is not easily recorded and would lessen the need for fans to seek out those unofficial recordings. I’d love it if U2 used U2X RADIO to open their archive to air the professionally recorded concerts they’ve been holding onto.

Tom Petty Radio (channel 31) has also been getting a lot of play on my SiriusXM iPhone app lately. I have been a Tom Petty fan since Full Moon Fever, and my love seems to grow exponentially every few years when I get into a particular album. Like so many, I was heartbroken when Tom passed away suddenly in 2016. When I tuned in to “Tom Petty Radio” and heard Tom himself playing songs from his record collection on his show “Buried Treasure,” I was absolutely beside myself. The show features Tom as the DJ, playing records and talking about music and whatever else was on his mind at the time. When Bono put together his 60 Letters, it reminded me of Tom’s “Buried Treasure” and made me think about how cool it would be for Bono, The Edge, Adam and Larry to talk about and play their favorite songs, the songs that inspired them, or whatever they are into at the moment. It would be a chance for those pre- and post-show playlists to come to life, and for the band to turn us on to whatever turned them on. I’d love to hear a “Buried Treasure”-type show with the members of U2 as DJs.

I am really happy that my wife accepted that free offer, and that our daughter made us regular listeners of the Beatles Channel. It expanded my idea of what artist-specific satellite radio stations could be. If the U2 channel contains some of the features of the other channels, or if the band and their associates have developed features that are new to the format, I am confident that U2X RADIO will be worth a listen - even for those who think they have heard all there is to hear. I’m looking forward to it.

© @U2/Cropp, 2020