IMHO, the last thing we need is another turnkey radio station, whether it runs the rejects WXXI doesn't carry or some other programming outlet. As we've seen time after time, radio stations that do nothing but pick up a signal off a satellite just do not do well in the ratings. As IBOC slowly works its way into some sort of presence, WXXI need only run other shows on one of the digital mini-channels. They could run everything, assuming they had enough money to buy all of those shows. But the fundamental issue of localism is never addressed.
Someone earlier in the thread mentioned WBEE and the general lack of competition. A few months ago, when I last bothered with local radio, WBEE did have some competition on the far east side with the country station in Wayne county, plus I believe 107.3 was running automated country at the time as well, with little/no advertising and generic, obviously pre-recorded drops. It was probably the best kept secret in town - another generic radio station run from a closet.
I have use for WXXI primarily for Bob Smith's show, which is one of the few bright lights in a vast wasteland of political and social outrage garbage that passes for quality local radio over on WHAM (Lonsberry's "mini-me" performance on the topic of the week and his shoot from the hip pronouncements on the ills of urban life... from his bunker in Livingston county, being only the most recent example). Spending an hour listening to a professor discussing the history of western New York and the state in general gave me more insight and education in an hour than you'll get from the clueless callers crowding in to stand in the amen corner with Mr. Lonsberry and the knuckle draggers for an entire year.
I remember WHAM in the 1970s and early 1980s had talk shows that weren't all that different from what WXXI-AM airs today, albeit perhaps a touch less esoteric on some days. The topics are varied enough and the questions intelligent enough that there is something for everyone. When they used to keep Kinnicut on a leash pre-Fairness Doctrine repeal, he was tolerable. After that, we got hours of Kinnicut gay bashing and suggesting that mosquitos biting gay men would then bite you and give you AIDS. That's compelling radio.
I can honestly recall some shows on 1370 Connection that I remember ten years after the fact, such as the former Lt. Governor under George Pataki who said some astonishing things for an establishment Republican on his show. The last things I can remember from Lonsberry was his Wonder Bra competition, and hollering at callers during snowstorms who called up to complain about poor government because the plow hadn't shown up. Hmmm... imagine that - conservatives who hate government calling a conservative talk radio station to complain about government, but getting screamed at by Lonsberry for complaining. Some government, particularly depending on who is running it, is apparently good after all.
Would I like to see the WXXI behemoth challenged locally? Sure, because competition is always a great motivator to invest in quality programming and not simply bloat management and get fat and lazy along the way. But what we really need is true COMMUNITY RADIO. WXXI is "community radio" if it were a low power outlet that blanketed East/Park Avenue eastward into Brighton and Pittsford. It has grown too elitist and out of touch with the underserved parts of our community that public broadcasting should be serving. I'm not sure how many listeners in northeastern Rochester are spending their mornings with Diane Rehm, much less pondering the subtle wit and wisdom of Garrison Keillor.
Build a studio in the heart of the city and actually program it for the residents, in Spanish and English, to delve into social struggles being faced by ordinary people who are never going to afford pledging enough to qualify for the rainforest protecting canvas tote bag. Open the microphones up and let people talk to people who all live in 585. There is time to run satellite programming overnight, and maybe even grab As It Happens from the CBC, a fine alternative to All Things Considered. And then perhaps place a satellite studio down in Canandaigua or Geneseo at one of the colleges and create programming of interest to rural communities to the south of the city. The key is local people talking to local people.
Otherwise, get XM or Sirius and you'll get all the satellite radio you want in one convenient package. Commercial-free for the music, and pledge-drive free for the public radio-style programs. And it sounds better than AM radio anyway.