Field report: XM channel 34, Enlighten

I’ve had to travel this weekend, my first time on AirTran. The airline has XM satellite radio hook ups on each armrest, so I was able to listen to XM’s sg station for three hours in flight. It was my first extended listen since the free trial way back when.

The song selection was decently, if not comprehensively, mixed, both historically – the oldest cut was some Happy Goodmans from, I think, the60s, though I could be wrong – and stylistically – my favorite spin was Allison Durham Speer covering “I’m Bound for that City.” It was also nice to hear the newer Greenes covering the older Greenes tune, “When I Knelt” and to catch not one but two old Rambos tracks (and even though I could have done without the underwhelming solo piece from Reba, variety in the direction of an artist often treated like a black sheep deserves credit).

I don’t have anywhere particular to go with all this. Satellite radio just isn’t worth the investment for me: I don’t spend enough time in the car and I can’t listen to any kind of music with lyrics while I work. But song selection is (or ought to be) the make or break factor for a radio station. XM 34 still needs to beef up its archive. I should have heard something from at least the 50s over the course of three hours. And I’m hoping I just missed cuts from oft-overlooked great groups like the Singing Americans and The Sound. But it still sounded better than any other sg radio station I can recall having heard an hour’s worth of songs from in the past several years.

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  1. RF wrote:

    I’ve had Enlighten since it was first put on the air and have been a subscriber to XM since it was available. Having said that, I agree with Avery that it’s the best southern gospel radio in the world, but I don’t listen so much anymore.

    Unlike our editor, I do spend a lot of time in the car, but I have a home unit also. Thirty minutes of XM34 is about all I can take. Today, I had an appointment about an hour away, so I turned on Enlighten. After 3 Chuck Wagon Gang songs, a Crabb tune, a bluegrass group I hadn’t heard of , The Spencers, The McKameys, The Inspirations, and The Northmen, I turned to the baseball channel.

    And it is the archives. Once in awhile you’ll hear a Statesmen or Blackwood Brothers cut, but rarely will you get a variety of what’s out there. I’ve sent emails with suggestions, but this kind of playlist is pretty common.

  2. Marlin R. Taylor wrote:

    Thank you, Avery. I concur with your assessment - we still have work to do, and I am constantly seeking archival material. Suggestions?

    My real concern is RF - this is not the first negative comment he’s posted. First of all, he needs to tell me the hour in which he heard such programming - I can find no hour or time period anywhere which aired an hour close to his description. Nor can I find a single E-mail ever received from him, either under his own name or his E-mail address. We have virtually every E-mail received from listeners dating back more than 2 years.

    In my 50 years in broadcasting, I’ve benefited numerous times from suggestions made by listeners … but seldom from sweeping negative generalities such as this one. When RF or Chuck or any regular listener hears a song which really bothers them, I’d like to hear from them. It’s takes no more thime that writing a negative post for a blogger site.

    I trust that none of these good Christian folk have a hidden agenda.

    Thanks for reading … I love you’all. Let me hear from you:

  3. Chuck Sims wrote:


    While I do like the “old tunes” and there is much to learn from them, I would also like to hear some new cuts on XM. I also enjoy the convenience of XM and NO COMMERCIALS.

    If you want to hear a pretty good internet SG station (24/7) try The variety is decent and the quality is great.


  4. Linda wrote:

    I’ve recently started listening to Enlighten 34 and have enjoyed it very much. Our local So Gospel station has gone to more canned programming and less music and the music selection is not what it once was, so I was delighted to find Enlighten.

    We purchased a XM Radio/MP3 protable deal, with a home base hooked to our speaker system in the house and car base that can play throught a cassette player or direct input (depending on your vehicle). Love the sound, love Enlighten and Willie’s place. :-)

  5. Chuck Peters wrote:


    I have no “hidden agenda”.. Where did that come from? I am a paying subscriber.. so I am allowed to comment anywhere I want about any channel on XM. You and I have talked via private email about XM.. and I have nothing to hide. My comments about XM-enlighten are given as openly as they would be for any broadcast facility.

    I just think the over-all programming on enlighten is sub-standard. Sure.. it’s better than many.. but the bar isn’t set very high in SG radio. XM is a big chance for SG to be heard by a BIG BIG audience.. I just want it to be the best. Other channels on XM sound great.. I want my SG channel to be “great” too.

    There are many good tings about enlighten.. but at this point.. there are also way too many tune out factors. I am sure your 50 years in radio have taught you many things,.. but learning SG programming “on the air” .. “as you go”.. is not a good thing.

    By the way.. I would know poor programming even if I weren’t a Christian.


  6. jb wrote:

    Here is my two cents worth, and it’s probably not worth much, but, I want to say I appreciate XM radio. We have an A.M. station 60 miles away and they have so much other stuff on the station. We have hundreds of CD’s and my son has a DVD player in his car, but, we both have XM radio in our cars. I play it all day, ever day on my computer at work while I am working. I don’t like all the music and I think they repeat alot of groups, but, I want to say Thank You and God Bless whoever runs it.

  7. RF wrote:

    Not to worry, Marlin. I’m still a fan. In fact, I’ve probably turned more folks on to Enlighten than most everybody.

  8. Catoe wrote:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Chuck. If Enlighten is the best thing offered in SG radio, we’re in big trouble. IMO, Daniel Britt’s show is the best thing on Enlighten. Maybe Marlin would consider letting Daniel do some of the programming. People that want to hear songs from the 50’s and 60’s for the most part aren’t supporting our advertisers.

  9. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I originally subscribed to XM for two years, before there was a channel for Southern Gospel. When the first two years were nearly up, XM went up in price and so I subscribed for another two years at that point in time to lock in the original rate of $200 per 2 years.

    That 2 year period was up last month, and I allowed it to lapse. Now that I have a portable iRiver, I either listen to it or local radio most of the time when I’m in the car.

    The only two XM stations I tuned in with any regularity were enLighten and Laugh USA.

    I pretty much agree with Chuck and Catoe. The quality of enLighten is considerably better than a number of stations I could mention, but it’s not exactly a flagship example of everything a SG station could be. That’s would be the ideal goal, considering the success of the station to this point.

    I’d be happy to offer my opinion to enLighten (or any other station)…pass or fail…free of charge…on specific song selection from time to time, if it would carry any weight.

  10. Marlin R. Taylor wrote:

    I didn’t ask anyone to help or teach me to program enLighten … my comments were simply (and this is something I was taught long ago) … if you are going to be critical of something, don’t just knock it, go the extra step and legitimize your statements by offering a suggestion for improving what you believe can be better.

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