Recognition grown consistently over past two years.

XM and Sirius have 61% awareness levels among American consumers, according to a new study by Edison Media Research and Arbitron.

Public recognition of satellite radio has grown consistently over the past two years. For XM, it climbed from 41% in January 2004 to 50% one year later to 61% this January. Sirius awareness climbed 28%-54%-61% over the same time period.

Fast rising subscription rates have followed. Close to one in five non-subscribers to satellite radio say they are likely to join this year.

Although the audience more closely mirrors the age and gender profile of the average American than audiences of other digital forms of radio, sat radio subscribers are twice as likely to live in $100K+ households.

The two research firms interviewed 1,925 Arbitron diarykeepers in January 2006 to shine a brighter light on digital radio distribution platforms. They uncovered evidence of early use and interest in podcasting and some early awareness and interest in HD radio.

What constitutes podcasting to the listener “is still formulating,” Edison president Larry Rosin said at a conference in New York on Thursday (April 14). Given a detailed description of podcasting, about one in ten people aged 12-plus said they had ever listened to an audio podcast, about half the number who had heard of podcasting. The podcast audience skews younger and more upscale than the general population.

The success of high definition digital radio—the technology broadcasters are pinning hopes for a radio renaissance on—may come down to price. More than one third said they’d likely buy an HD radio for $50, compared to 21% at $100, 9% at $200 and 5% at $300. HD receiver prices currently range from $299 to $5000.

As Americans become familiar with HD and podcasts, a growing number are donning those seemingly ubiquitous white earbuds. Nearly one in four Americans and more than half of teens own an iPod or other portable digital music player, the survey found.