Sirius' on-again, off-again signal problems

Are your satellite radio signals not as strong as they used to be? Are service interruptions becoming more frequent? If so, you're not alone.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Steve Guttenberg

Sirius Satellite Radio has a lot on its plate. Shock jock Howard Stern is already making noises about leaving after his contract expires in a couple of years, the stock price is in the tank, and the company has huge debt.

All of that shouldn't matter to subscribers, of which I am one. But the frequent signal dropouts are really getting out of hand.

I had similar problems in the early days, but after a while, the dropouts became rare. Months would go by without signal interruptions, but about six months ago, the off-and-on signal problems returned.

Sometimes, the dropout lasts just a few seconds but occurs many times an hour. My Sirius home radio hasn't budged since I first got it many years ago, and my antenna is pretty much in the same place it has always been, but lately, the signal regularly disappears for minutes at a time before sputtering back to life.

When the radio drops out, the tuner's display reads "Acquiring Signal," which in and of itself is really annoying. The fact is, it's not acquiring signal; that's why I'm not hearing anything. I'm guessing that these dropout problems are related to the ground repeaters used in metropolitan areas. I'm in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

My attempts to speak with a Sirius representative didn't get very far. I received a response via e-mail saying this: "It's not unusual for people at home to experience reception issues because of a faulty antenna or some terrestrial interference."

I swapped out the antenna, and it didn't make a difference.

How about you? Has your Sirius service held up over the years?

Side note: Jay Thomas, on Channel 108 (Sirius XM Stars Too) is the funniest man on radio. It seems as if whatever is running through his head on any given day is hilarious. While Howard Stern seems dried up and bored with himself, Thomas is a breath of fresh air.