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Departure of a Class Act

Panero had been president/CEO since 1998, when XM was called American Mobile Radio Corp.

Panero had been president/CEO since 1998, when XM was called American Mobile Radio Corp.

The first time I spoke with him was at the company’s temporary headquarters, before the company changed its name and converted what had been a printing plant into its offices and studios in downtown Washington.

He consistently refused to engage in the usual posturing that competing companies do. When flamboyant Joe Clayton led Sirius, the company announced some wild things at CES. Remember the proposed huge Ferris wheel that was going to travel to different cities to demo the service? Sirius also announced backseat video two years before it would become a product, causing a big buzz at the show.

Panero consistently told journalists his company would not announce what it would do in the future but only what it was ready to deliver.

He also reacted with class to the events of 9/11. XM postponed its soft launch two weeks due to the events of that day. According to my notes from the Sept. 25, 2001 event, Panero said he grew up in New York City and still had family and friends there. “A large number of my employees commute to work passing the Pentagon each day.”

Referencing 9/11, he said, “Our events today — here in DC and in Dallas and San Diego — are much different than what we had planned for two weeks ago. In lieu of holding large events, XM and its employees … made a donation of $10,000 to the New York Firefighters’ 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund and $10,000 to the American Red Cross effort here at the Pentagon.”

He is also a former New York bureau chief for a cable trade publication, a class act who “got” what reporters need to do their jobs.