I’ve heard about XM radio for a while now, but I hadn’t entirely understood what it was or how it worked until I learned firsthand by driving a rental car that had it.
My one sentence summary for it is: It’s like cable TV for your radio.
You pay a monthly subscription fee ($12.95/month) and get more commercial-free radio than you could ever listen to. In my experience, it was a significantly reduced number of commercials, although I guess they weren’t strictly commercials, but I heard a few mildly annoying advertisements about how great it was to listen to XM, commercial-free radio.
I listened to the XM Comedy station which had stand up comedian routines one after another and I must admit they were funny (although rather crude in some cases). There were lots of news channels, like CNN, BBC, Fox News, CNBC, Bloomberg and even C-SPAN, and of course, there were lots of music stations. Some played music from a certain decade (40s to the 90s). There were also stations for large US cities like Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and so forth, providing traffic, weather and local news for those areas.
There are lots more channels (here’s the full channel listing) so there’s no lack of variety, but it’s probably overkill unless you commute 12 hours a day, one way. In the end I’d say it was fun to listen to, but not worth the money, but then again, I tend to be what they call…frugal.