Sirius XM cuts go beyond bluegrass

Sirius XM management’s decision to cancel most shifts for acclaimed Bluegrass Junction DJ Chris Jones is part of a broader plan to eliminate hosts from some of its music channels.

In addition to ending Jones’ weekday shifts, the satellite radio giant took DJs off the air on oldies channels that play music from the 1950s and the 1990s.

Sirius XM officials have not publicly commented on any of the moves and have, so far, not returned calls from Bluegrass Today. But the timing of the cutbacks – as Liberty Media negotiates to buy the 47 percent of Sirius XM stock it does not already own – suggests the company is trying to trim expenses.

The company issued a tepid quarterly update to investors before today’s opening bell of the stock market, noting strong revenue growth and an uptick in long-term subscribers, but earnings of just a penny per share for the last three months of 2013. Analysts were forecasting two cents per share.

Dozens of angry subscribers praised Jones and blasted the company on Bluegrass Junction’s Facebook page, and about 200 offered support on Jones’ personal page. Those numbers are likely to grow as the word spreads about his downsized schedule. His only regular shifts will be Saturdays and his weekly edition of Truegrass.

His last regular weekday shift was Monday, although he was on the air Tuesday morning, filling in for Kyle Cantrell, who was ill. Jones bid farewell to his weekday listeners, but didn’t dwell on the change or talk about its causes. But in a Facebook post on Monday, he made it clear the decision wasn’t his.

Today he posted this follow-up: “The support of friends, fans and listeners in the last 24 hours has been extremely touching. Thank you all.”

The changes leave Cantrell and Joey Black as the only regularly scheduled hosts on weekdays. Pre-programmed music with no chatter from DJs will be played at other times. Black’s weekday show will now start at 5:00 p.m. instead of at midday.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.