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Radio Show: Owners Say Industry Needs to Pay Attention to Future

Radio gets “A” from Wells Fargo analyst

Wells Fargo analyst Marci Ryvicker gives the radio industry an “A” overall this year for stable revenue, good listenership, “okay” valuation and stock performance.

The grade is a little better than last year, when the industry received a “B.” Higher stock prices helped nudge radio’s grade, she said at the Radio Show in Orlando at a breakfast.

A panel of radio group owners discussed the industry’s future during the panel as well.

Asked whether radio’s ability to recover from the recession is hampered by the emergence of Apple iTunes Radio, Connoisseur Media’s Jeff Warshaw replied, “While any competition is a concern, we think one of the things that potentially insulates radio is having a live presence.” That relationship with listeners is not easy to replicate, he said.

A common theme among the executives, however, was that radio can’t sit on its laurels, but must figure out how to air compelling content without boring ads that turn off listeners.

Alpha Broadcasting and L&L Broadcasting CEO Larry Wilson echoed those concerns, noting that with all the focus on digital, owners must remember their terrestrial facilities. “We’re letting the product go downhill. We’re running crappy ads.”

As for radio’s competition from online audio, Cumulus in particular sees the audio universe as expanding. Explaining the broadcaster’s recent deal with Rdio, Cumulus Chairman/CEO Lew Dickey said, “We’re thinking of Rdio as a complement to our business. We want to be able to play across the entire ecosystem.”

Asked to comment on the NextRadio app, BRG Media President/CEO Mary Quass said, “We need to be on the devices people are using.” She also urged more broadcasters to participate in the NextRadio app project.