The Wall Street Journal reports that 1.7 million Sirius XM subscribers dropped the satellite radio service in the first quarter of 2009. With 1.3 million new customers signing on, the net loss of 404,000 listeners knocked the recently merged satellite company’s subscriber base down to 18.6 million. “Company officials blamed the bad economy and poor car sales and said they expected another hit to subscribers in the current quarter,” the Journal‘s Sarah McBride reports. But, she found another cause: “Many of the dropped customers were disgruntled after the company dropped several stations after the merger. Chris Ross, who had three separate XM radios, says he canceled them in March when his favorite stations were dropped. ‘Now an iPod provides the background music,’ he says.” Be sure to read the comments for a debate on the merits of HD Radio, Pandora and the Public Radio iPhone tuner.