Martine Rothblatt: I personally don’t like commercials. So I’m like a channel surfer. When the commercial comes on, I’ll surf right past it. I used to mostly listen between 88 to 92 megahertz, because that’s like the non-commercial band. You’ve got to remember that my original, original training is I’m basically what they call a spectrum manager. I worked with the FCC to get frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum set aside for new services. So I am a spectrum geek is a fair thing to say. So I knew there was a need for content without commercials.
Secondly, I knew there was a need for the content that we have in big cities like New York in all the other places in the country. So I said, “How can I go about doing that?” There was no more room on the AM and FM radio band. But I knew as a spectrum geek that there was millions of more spectrum than between AM and FM that could be transmitted by satellite because those frequencies were not used for other things and they passed through the atmosphere.
So I studied the physics of it. I designed the satellite communication system. I found the radio frequencies that would pass through the atmosphere and pass through like the leaves in the trees — places like Rock Creek Park and whatnot — as good as possible. There’s a lot of just “devil is in the details” issues, like when it rains leaves absorb more frequencies when they didn’t. I pulled all this together, I went to the FCC, which I knew because that was my business, that was my career. I said, “I propose we create a satellite digital audio radio system,” which is the technical name for Sirius XM.