Bob Dylan has signed a multiyear deal to continue his weekly show on XM Satellite Radio.
“Theme Time Radio Hour,” which airs Wednesdays at 10 a.m. EDT, has become one of the most popular shows on XM, says Lee Abrams, XM’s chief programming officer.
“We expected hard-core Dylan fans,” says Abrams. “But we’re getting listeners from all musical styles and age groups.”
Satellite radio does not release listening figures, but published estimates have put Dylan’s weekly audience at up to 1.7 million.
The show explores topical themes through an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, pop, country, Cajun, gospel, R&B, rock `n’ roll and other styles back to the `20s.
“We’re not here to play hits,” Dylan said on the air recently. “We’re here to play good songs.”
“He breaks all the radio rules,” says Abrams. “And it works.”
Dylan’s first 50-show season, which ended Wednesday, had several regular features that include a running gag with e-mails. On yesterday’s show, Dylan “read” an e-mail from “M. Scorsese” suggesting a show on the theme of gangsters.
“We didn’t realize how much humor he’d have,” says Abrams. “That’s a pleasant surprise.”
New shows will resume in September. Meanwhile, there will be reruns in his regular slots and a Memorial Day festival featuring all 50 shows from year one.
Abrams says the shows will likely have an afterlife, though no one has decided where.
“Forty or 50 years from now,” says Abrams, “these will still stand up as very good music.”