Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So, What's Going On?

The RAB released the January revenue figures that, to say the least, were not very good.

Here's the bad news:

Jan. 2008 vs. Jan. 2007

Local Revenue All Markets -5%
National Revenue All Markets -13%
Local & Nat'l Revenue All Markets -7%
Non-Spot Revenue All Markets 11%
Grand Total Revenue All Markets -6%

Local and national revenues are based on approximately 150 markets as reported by the accounting firm of Miller Kaplan Arase & Co. Non-Spot data has been collected and verified since January of 2002, and reported since September of 2004. As previously announced, the RAB will report quarterly Radio revenue in dollar amounts beginning with the 2007 results. Monthly percentage growth rates will continue to be available on the RAB website at The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) is the sales and marketing arm of the Radio industry with nearly 7,000 members including close to 6,000 stations in the U.S., and over 1,000 associate members in networks, representative firms, sales, and international organizations.

As you can see the only bright spot was non-spot revenue which increased 11% year over year. It's good to see that "new media" is getting some traction, but we all know this is not going to compensate for the spot revenue loss.

Is this a double whammy for radio? A soft ad market coupled with an uncertain economy? Could be. But these numbers hit like a ton of bricks.

One thing struck me as I was reading these numbers, right at the top of the release is the RAB logo, contact information and "slug line."

230 Million people listen to radio every week. One would think a platform that robust would have more business than they could handle. Obviously, there's much more to this story than total users--like perceptions, predispositions, people, content, buzz, momentum, structure, competition, etc.

I read in one of the trades that some radio managers said the next couple months were looking better...I hope so.

On The Road In Phoenix

Hopped a plane today to attend Al Peterson's Talk Media Conference. The opening keynote speech was Paul Harvey Jr. He has been writing "The Rest of the Story" for his dad Paul Harvey Sr. for 30 years and has been behind the mic many times himself over the years as well.

He talked about the need for unique content, and to have it written and produced to the highest standards. He criticized some of the "lesser" content on the radio and suggested the industry was in dire need of writers and producers to bring the content to life. He also spoke of a day when some longer term broadcasters might re-enter the broadcasting business and commit to broadcast excellence. He's certainly not the first person to speak similar words and he won't be the last.

It's hard to argue that our industry would benefit from these suggestions, but, given today's thrifty environment it's hard to imagine any of it happening in the near term.