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Radio Took It on the Chin in Q1

Commercial U.S. radio revenue was down 24% compared to a year ago, RAB says

Ah, remember the good old days? Like, say, the first quarter of last year?

U.S. commercial radio revenue declined by a whopping 24% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year ago, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.

The local and national portion of the business fell 26%. Network and off-air also were down. Only radio’s “digital” component was up, with a 13% increase; and that piece only brought in about $100 million in the three-month period, so it didn’t lift overall figures very much. (Digital refers here to revenue from Web sites, streaming and HD Radio.)

The RAB estimates total radio revenue for the quarter at $3.4 billion. RW notes that this pace for a whole year would make radio a $13.6 billion per year industry, not long after it was generally believed to bring in $20 billion a year. Whether the first quarter trend will continue is of course unknown.

RAB President/CEO Jeff Haley sees things this way: “Radio’s digital platforms are experiencing the greatest growth and are reflective of the dollar shift from media to marketing by many of today’s advertisers. As consumer and technological sophistication increases, advertisers will continue to support those platforms which appeal to their customers’ increased on-demand behaviors –- and radio is primed for it.”