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Radio Revenue Is Off 5% Year to Date

But RAB sees “new growth leaders” in the medium including insurance, specialty retail.

RAB used the words “growth” and “steady” in its announcement headline; but overall revenue continues to be down for U.S. commercial radio in the first quarter.

Radio revenue was off 5% in the quarter compared to the same period last year, it reported, dragged down by a drop of 11% in national business and a 6% drop in local. Network business was up 7%, though, and off-air continues to be the star for radio, increasing 15%.

Overall revenue in the quarter was estimated at just under $4.5 billion; if that pace were to hold, the year would end at around $18 billion total.

But RAB says several industries increased their investment in radio in the quarter, “becoming the new growth leaders for the medium. The influx of these dollars, combined with the steady escalation of advertiser spending in the network and off-air sectors, helped radio curtail the effects of today’s unstable economy.”

Its announcement captures RAB’s view of the numbers: “Network, Off-Air, Political Help Steady Radio in 1st Quarter 2008; Insurance, Specialty Retail, Professional Services, and Beverages Emerge as Growth Category Leaders.”

President/CEO Jeff Haley said he is “encouraged that first quarter has brought new and returning advertisers to radio.”