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Cable radio is in the air in Baltimore


Tired of incessant radio commercials and talkative disc jockeys? Take heart, music lovers. Cable radio is here.

In two weeks, United Artists Cable of Baltimore will launch Digital Music Express (DMX), allowing subscribers to select from 30 channels covering the musical spectrum. As with cable television's movie channels, DMX's music programming will be free of interruption.

The Los Angeles-based DMX, which was launched in its first cable market last year, is available to more than 5.5 million cable subscribers across the country, and is expected to reach 9 million subscribers by year's end, the company says.

A major competitor, Digital Cable Radio of Hatboro, Pa., was launched in May 1990 and is available to 3.5 million subscribers.

But service has been slow to reach a broad audience in the Baltimore area.

Jones Intercable in Anne Arundel County offers subscribers a service called Super Audio, which has 13 channels with formats including music, talk shows, book readings and sports. United Cable, which also serves parts of Anne Arundel County, plans to offer DMX there by mid-October.

But other Baltimore-area companies say they have no plans to offer cable radio, which is shipped to homes through the cable that carries television signals.

In Baltimore, DMX has been installed on a test basis in about 100 homes, said Marilyn Harris-Davis, a spokeswoman for United Artists Cable. The company hopes to work out any bugs in the system before going ahead with widespread installation.

To receive DMX in Baltimore, music lovers must first subscribe to United Artist's cable TV service, which costs a minimum $17.35 per month. For another $12.95 a month, subscribers can get DMX on one stereo system in their home.

DMX's package includes a remote control channel selector and an electronic screen that identifies the artist, song title and album playing at any given time.

DMX subscribers also can buy the cable radio equipment from United Artist for $149.95, then pay a monthly fee of $4.95 for DMX.

By September 1993, United Artists projects that 2,000 of its 120,000 subscribers will have cable radio.

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