Need a laugh? SiriusXM launches channel for female comics

This combination photo shows comedians, from left, Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg and Joan Rivers, whose comedy will be featured on a new SiriusXM comedy channel called She's So Funny debuting on April Fool's Day. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK – The midst of a global pandemic might seem like an odd time to launch a radio channel devoted to female comedians, but executives at SiriusXM believe that it's precisely the right time.

Listenership at the satellite radio company's eight current comedy channels has been up, and the company feels that it is filling a need with people stuck at home.

The channel, dubbed She's So Funny, debuts Wednesday at 7 a.m. Eastern — the morning of April Fool's Day, naturally.

“We have a lot of people who are very scared,” said Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer at SiriusXM. “You have a lot of people who want to feel OK in a difficult time, to have a little humor and try to laugh.”

The number of people listening to SiriusXM's comedy channels online this year is up 80% over last year, said the company, which doesn't have ratings for the satellite portion of its distribution. That's through March 22, which includes a little bit of the shut-in period.

Greenstein said Sirius has suffered no service interruptions due to the virus outbreak that has forced many employees to work at home.

“We've been lucky,” he said. “We did a fair amount of planning through the years.”

SiriusXM also announced that starting Tuesday, it is opening up streams of all of its programming for free online, through May 15, as a gesture to people at home because of the virus.