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Sirius Turns On Gay Radio Channel

Fledgling satellite radio provider Sirius last Monday debuted what appears to be the first full-time radio channel serving gay and lesbian listeners.

Dubbed OutQ, the channel is virtually all news, talk and information and so far carries no commercials.

That could change, but it might take awhile, not so much because of the subject matter but because Sirius has few subscribers of any sort at this point. At the end of the fourth quarter, it reported 30,000, although Larry Rebich, vice president of programming and market development, says the company will announce new figures "that will easily be twice as large as that" in early May.

"We've been very gratified," he added, "all of our partners have been so supportive" of OutQ, including car manufacturers DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, which offer Sirius for some models.

"We're geared up to present very current and controversial programming," Rebich said, including a nighttime love, sex and relationship program.

Anyone who doesn't want to hear the channel (which is part of the Sirius basic $12.95-a-month package) can use a lock-out device like the one Sirius offers so that parents can prevent children from hearing its unexpurgated rap and hip-hop channels.

Rebich believes there are about 15 million U.S. gays. "They have been largely underserved. I think OutQ can sell an awful lot of radios for us." Sirius will market itself mainly by making its presence known at events such as gay-pride parades in major cities.