April revs almost break even


When shove came to push in the world of radio revenue, the push turned out to be a slight jostle. Yeah, it would be good to record a monthly comp in black ink, but if the quill simply must be dipped into the red inkwell once again, minus one is about the best you can hope for. The Radio Advertising Bureau/Miller Kaplan Arase & Company numbers for April 2008 pegged local at a -1% loss, and national at a -5% loss compared to April 2007. That put the total spot result at -2%. However, an 8% gain in non-spot revenue kicked the bottom line result back up to -1% overall.

Analyst Marci Ryvicker at Wachovia Capital Markets says the month’s surprisingly benign results will allow them to shave a point off the radio industy’s Q2 sinkhole, with losses now pegged at -3% rather than -4%. That will be based on anticipated losses of -5% in May and -2% in June. The full year is said to be tracking at -2.5%.

Over at Lehman Brothers, Anthony DiClemente suspects that radio benefited from unexpected spillover thanks to claims on TV time by the also unexpectedly hot Democratic presidential nomination race. He suspects that will end and that even the modest conventional wisdom expectations for radio for the remainder of the year may be overly optimistic. And although broadcast television will get its even-year political bump, he is wary of negative trends there as well.

RBR/TVBR observation: Radio execs are sensing that they are finally near or at the bottom of this prolonged downturn, but media buyers are consistently said to be making their decisions at the last minute, contributing uncertainty and volatility to an already shaky equation. The good news for April, we suppose, is that -1% doesn’t seem all that bad. But the fact that we can even think about taking a pathetic result like -1% and try to gussy it up like it’s the prom queen of positive stories is the bad news.