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April 23rd, 2006


Long before satellite radio was available, there was another service that was extremely similar, though more limited in its range. It was called Digital Cable Radio.

In 1990, I was 15 and subscribed to DCR. It was available from the cable company and required a separate subscription and device, a cable box that hooked directly into your stereo and was completely separate from your TV cable box. There were about 40 channels (as I remember) each with a different theme and each played uninterrupted music with no commercials and no DJs in CD-quality sound. It was pretty cool for the time, but very few people picked up on it and, indeed, I ended up dropping it after a year or so because of the cost.

Satellite radio came along and co-opted the idea, expanding the offerings and bringing DJs into the mix as well as letting subscribers get the music in their cars. But I’ll still have fond memories of DCR and remember how difficult it was to explain to people at the time. “Yeah, it comes through a coax cable… no, there’s no TV involved… and it plays music with CD quality… no, there are no CDs… and you can call up a phone number to find out what’s playing because there are no DJs.”

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