Service expected to launch in Q1 2006.

As the result of a deal announced in early October with Universal Music Group (UMG), Motorola’s forthcoming cell phone-based iRadio service will feature channels fashioned around UMG country artists, including George Strait, Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood and Lee Ann Womack. iRadio is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2006.

“We can now create specific radio channels that are dedicated to their artists and include much, much more than simply music,” Motorola director of product marketing Dave Ulmer tells

An artist’s channel might, for example, include tour dates, album release dates, new singles and back catalog. “A whole selection of stuff that’s very focused to their specific fan and gives [artists] a direct connection to that fan,” Ulmer says.

iRadio users, who will pay between $7 and $10 a month for the service, will make their channel selections via their PC and then download them to their cell phone via a USB connection. However, iRadio content is perishable, meaning that once it is listened to it is gone.

Using Bluetooth technology, the iRadio programming can also be played over a car radio or home stereo system.

Listeners will be able to purchase albums and concert tickets or respond to exclusive promotions simply by pressing a button on their phone or existing car stereo.

Motorola phones are used by Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile, Nextel and Sprint customers.