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Q3 Is All Positives for Radio

Business might not be screaming hot; but at its current pace, U.S. commercial radio revenue will post its best uptick in a decade

It looks like U.S. commercial radio will break its string of three straight years of revenue declines come December.

That’s looking more and more likely, anyway, given that the RAB has just reported another positive quarter for revenue. This could get addictive.

Yes, comparable periods a year ago were weak (radio sales dropped 18% last year from the year before). But if radio finishes 2010 at this pace — and RAB says the business is maintaining its 6% growth rate for the year — it will be the best year-over-year uptick since 2000.

The Radio Advertising Bureau says local revenue, the biggest part of the industry’s income, rose 3% in the recent quarter. All other sectors were up; national radio rose 10% in Q3, digital revenue was up 23%, network was up 4% and off-air was up 5%.

RAB says the commercial U.S. radio business is maintaining its 6% growth rate for the year.

It also said the four largest radio categories “registered spending well above the $300 million level in Q3,” as shown in the chart; and the top two, communication and automotive, “are already above the $1 billion mark for the year to date through September, with financial services and TV/networks/cable providers all imminently poised to move up to that level.”

The ad organization said radio also received a “major cash infusion from political advertisers” this fall.

Read RAB’s detailed report here (PDF).