Bye Bye Worldspace Satellite Radio!

My Mom gifted me my Worldspace satellite radio around 5 years ago, knowing how much I liked music. Though it was available in India for years before this, it was not very affordable and their receivers were huge and bulky.  My mom got mine for around 5k with a yearly subscription of around 1200 Rupees in 2006.
I took it with me to Nagpur, where, reaching at 11:00 at night, the first thing I did was install the receiver on the roof and listen to music all night long. After that, I knew which direction “South-East” was, in every house I lived. After moving to Kolkata, we went to great lengths to install the receiver on the apartment roof, run the cable down to our flat. Did the same when I moved to 2 different houses in Gurgaon.
While satellite radio might not a hit amongst the general population in India (“Who listens to Radio at home when you have TV?” or “Who pays a subscription fee to listen to radio when you can download pirated songs for free?”), it was a boon for music lovers. Almost every genre of music imaginable, spread across more than 50 channels, with excellent sound quality, it was everything a music lover had been waiting for.
My favorite channels used to be Orbit Rock and Voyager. It was on Orbit Rock that I first listened to Echoes by Pink Floyd. I had tuned in mid-way and the haunting nature of the music instantly mesmerized me. The music went on for 20 minutes and I was left with an overwhelming desire to listen to it again. Thankfully, the Worldspace India website provided a way to find out which song played when and there was also a section to request new songs.
After moving for the second time in Gurgaon, the Radio fell in bad times. I did not get to install it for almost 5-6 months, and even after I did, I didn’t listen to it much, partly due to my hectic schedule.
Then one day, I read in the newspaper that Worldspace had broadcast it’s last song in India on December 31, 2009, the company already having filed for bankruptcy in the US a year ago. I immediately turned on my receiver and as expected, there was no Pink Floyd; just silence.
I felt bad as well as nostalgic. Bad because I didn’t listen to it much during it’s last days. Nostalgic because I had great memories associated with it and there is no alternative to it in India at the present.
Still, I refused to take down the cabling and the antenna placed on the rooftop, braving rain and cold and the harsh Gurgaon summers. I was hopeful that somehow the company would be revived or there would be a different company which would launch services compatible with the existing hardware.
More than a year later, there is no Satellite Radio Service in India and while tidying up my place, I decided to take down the antenna from the rooftop and remove the cabling (due to which I had been unable to fully close my window for years).
From what I can surmise, worldspace failed in India primarily because they didn’t launch a car version of their radio. No one really listens to Radio at home when they have TV and no one would dare to pay to listen to Radio. True blue music lovers are quite scarce, not enough to keep the company afloat. They did team up with airtel DTH TV services for bundled services, but apparently that didn’t help.
However, people do listen to music in their cars. Worldspace should have taken a note from What Sirius and XM have done in the US and teamed up with car  and car stereo manufacturers to put a Worldspace module in mid and high-end car stereos.
Even if Worldspace does return, people would have a hard time trusting them with a pre-paid yearly subscription, having been cut short the last time. I myself am not much fond of Internet Radio, with the lack of dedicated Internet Radio receivers available in this country and unwilling to keep the whole computer running just for radio.
Worldspace, we will miss you. may you R.I.P!!

4 thoughts on “Bye Bye Worldspace Satellite Radio!”

  1. Ah I loved my world space radio… Was in college. N luckily my hostel room faced the south east. Afristar n Asiastar… Missing Radio Voyager , Orbit Rock, top 40 on 40, and jhankaar.. Was looking for some alternatives to the service n stumbled upon this article. Glad to know there were people like me indeed… Now I rely on internet radio for my daily dose of music. Rock to be precise. But no channel gives me the happiness the WS channels gave.

  2. I agree. Worldspace would have succeeded commercially if they would have launched a receiver for cars. No one really listens to radio 📻 at home, not even bored housewives. I miss those days however, lying in bed and listening to awesome music 🎶.

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