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Expect a 15% Overall Drop in Revenue This Year, BIA Forecasts

But it sees some easing later in the year; also notes an uptick in listening to news stations

One radio industry watcher thinks the economy has begun to “bottom out” and that it won’t be as bad in the fall and winter as it has been lately.

Having said that, BIA Advisory Services and its vice president Mark Fratrik this week issued an updated estimate for U.S. commercial radio revenue for 2009, lowering their earlier estimates.

“The economy has affected the radio industry more this year than originally projected, according to the second edition of BIA Advisory Services’ quarterly ‘Investing In Radio Market Report,’” BIA stated.

“New estimates project 2009 revenues of approximately $14 billion, a 15% decrease over last year, based on revenue reports from stations across the country.”

With hope for easing later in the year, though, the situation “presents an opportunity for radio to leverage new sources of income by making effective investments in new, sustainable ways to attract listeners,” the research firm said.

Fratrik believes radio has “shown agility by adjusting its programming and how it’s delivered, and listeners are responding.”

The company also found a 9.2% increase in consumers listening to news-only stations compared to a year ago.

“Factors including the availability of music formats from sources other than radio and growing consumer interest in local, political and economic news are motivating stations to change their formats and move toward all news.”

It also saw an increase in consumers listening to rock (3.8%) and urban (3.4%) formats.

“Migration to new formats, in particular all news, although expensive, has set radio on the path to carry over programming into multiple platforms, including the Web and mobile where news applications (‘apps’) are increasingly popular and can provide sources of income,” BIA found, adding that the mobile arena is one where stations can significantly increase their share of listeners.