The Public Gets A Glimpse At Radio's Troubles
July 13, 2009 at 4:45 AM (PT)
The radio business is acutely aware of how tough the past year has been, and now the public, at least in PHILADELPHIA, is getting that news in a report from THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. In it, they write, "ELROY SMITH has been in radio since 1981, and it's not what it used to be.
"Jocks are working double shifts," says RADIO ONE/PHILLY OM SMITH. "I'm doing three stations here, and one in CHARLOTTE."
"We have to survive. This is no joke."
"Nobody's laughing. Stock prices have plummeted, and red ink is rising around RADIO ONE and the entire industry, struggling with a mountain of debt and a disastrous drop in advertising revenue, although listenership has shown only a modest decline.
We have to survive. This is no joke
"Revenue in the PHILADELPHIA radio market, the nation's eighth-largest, fell from $326.9 million in 2004 to $265.1 million in 2008, a slide of 19%, reports BIA ADVISORY SERVICES, a leading financial analyst for the industry. BIA sees the trend continuing for at least two more years, and getting worse before it gets better. Last month, it increased its gloomy forecast for 2009, saying national radio revenue would decline not 11% ($1.7 billion) from 2008, as first expected, but 15% ($2.5 billion).
"The deepening economic distress has frayed nerves. 'Our lives are very stressful and unpredictable. There's more insecurity than ever before," says SMITH, who manages WPHI (100.3), WPPZ (103.9), and WRNB (107.9) and began managing the CHARLOTTE station in APRIL.
"Two words apply to radio in 2009, says BIA VP/Research KIP CASSINO, who has spent 30 years as a media consultant: 'Nothing good.'
Web Hard To Harness
"There are breaks in the clouds roiling over radio, but whether they are opening or closing is uncertain. At first glance, radio -- flexible and entrepreneurial, with a relatively stable audience -- seems better positioned than the other older media to ride out the recession and, perhaps, integrate itself into an Internet, iPHONE, iPOD world.
But it's still struggling, BIA's CASSINO says.
"They should be making megabucks off the Internet, but they don't seem to really care much about it," he says. "You would think radio would have a leg up when it comes to the Web, just because WXYZ.com can start up providing exactly the same service as WXYZ-FM."
"Not only can radio stream its regular programming and get ratings counted, but also users of computers and smart phones can view associated entertainment and advertising content while listening to the old medium."