Sirius Satellite Radio yesterday began the first phase of its national service rollout in four markets, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, and Jackson, Mississippi. To commemorate the start of its satellite radio service, Sirius broadcast inaugural programming and treated Jackson to a special live concert featuring Randy Travis and a host of country artists.
“This is an important day in Sirius’ history and we are thrilled to bring our premier satellite radio service to listeners in Denver, Houston, Phoenix, and Jackson,” said Joseph P. Clayton, Sirius’ president and CEO. “This will be a big year for Sirius as we roll out our service nationwide, and embark on our mission to bring the Sirius experience directly to listeners everywhere. We believe that once people visit our ‘Rhythm of the Road Tour’ in their hometown and listen to music the way it was meant to be heard, completely commercial free, people will be lining up to get Sirius,” Clayton said.
During the first official Sirius broadcast for consumers, ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson served as the first voice heard on Sirius, ushering in a new era of in-vehicle entertainment. Listeners then heard Al Jarreau, who inspired the new Sirius musical signature, introduce a special musical overture performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin. This was followed by a montage of artists and celebrities including Shaggy, Sting, Nelly Furtado, Pink, Nickelback, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Bennett, Travis Tritt, Emmylou Harris, Ray Manzarek Jason Alexander, Nathan Lane, Bill Cosby, Dan Aykroyd, Grandmaster Flash, MC Lyte, and others.
The broadcast led into special “first songs” that were heard across Sirius’ 60 commercial-free music channels, with many of these being exclusive live performances recorded at the company’s New York City studios. Excerpts from the first day of Sirius programming will be donated to the Museum of Television and Radio’s permanent collection and will be available as part of the museum’s historic archives.
Sirius also kicked off its launch festivities with a gala event in Jackson, Mississippi, held at retailer Cowboy Maloney’s. The event featured special appearances by Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and Speaker of the House Tim Ford, live performances by country music superstar Randy Travis, Bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs with acclaimed songwriter Tom T. Hall, country artist Tracy Lawrence, and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, International Bluegrass Music Association’s 2001 “Entertainer of the Year” and “Female Vocalist of the Year.”