Broadcast Operations Center, XM Radio, Washington D.C.
How the nation's first satellite radio service keeps 100 CD-quality stations on the air.
Photo by Michael Moran, XM Satellite Radio
1. On-Air Schedule:
Four computers (two on each side of the room) display play lists as they’re chosen by the DJs.
2. Repeater Status Map:
More than 800 repeaters amplify XM’s signals, ensuring you don’t lose reception under bridges or
in tunnels. A green dot means the repeater is fine, red means it needs maintenance.
3. Parabolic Speaker:
Broadcasts any of XM’s stations into the room.
4. Satellite Projection Screen:
XM Radio blankets the United States with two satellites — “Rock” on the left, “Roll” on the right — in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above the Earth.
5. Time Zone Clocks:
One for each time zone,
not including Alaska and Hawaii (XM is available only in the continental U.S.).
6. Equalizer Stack:
Ensures that sound levels among stations stay similar,
so you’re not blasted out of your bucket seat when you switch from Channel 4 (oldies) to
7. Studio Sound Status:
From this workstation, engineers can set up a studio for specific acoustics — the audio in a news studio, for example, is very different from that of a music studio.
8. “Captain Kirk” Chair:
A shift supervisor sits here, 24 hours a day, monitoring the 100 digital radio stations. The microphone allows him or her to chat with any of the live DJs, who sit in the 82 studios down the hall.
9.Audio Output Panel:
Ensures the right audio source is on the right XM channel.