CEO David Field last week took responsibility for Entercom underperforming its markets in Q3, but he didn’t really explain what went wrong. So, he was asked about it at Wednesday’s Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.
John Kornreich of Sandler Capital Management wanted to know whether the problem in the markets where Entercom trailed its peers was low ratings or the sales department failing to sell good ratings.
“If you want to frame it that way John, yes, we had a sales execution problem in those markets. We do not have a brand issue in the company. We do not have a ratings issue,” Field said. “To the contrary, we think our ratings have actually positioned us to gain share versus other local radio players. Yes, we have a sales execution issue in small handful of markets that, you know, took us down a little bit.”
As has been the case with most groups, local growth has trailed far behind national for Entercom. Field noted that Katz Media Group predicted this week that national spot will end 2010 up over 20%. “On the local side it’s been a very different story,” Field said. In his view it has been more difficult for local merchants to look at their cash registers and have confidence that the economy is strong enough to increase advertising. But he noted significant improvement. “Local in November and December looks considerably better than it has for the past year,” Field said. “Having said that, we’ll have to see when the dust clears over the next few weeks whether that’s a timing difference or whether it’s real,” he added.
RBR-TVBR observation: Remember a few years back when the schedule of one of these Wall Street media conferences would be filled with radio companies, keeping us reporters hopping with back-to-back presentations? The two-day Wells Fargo Securities conference this week had exactly one pure play radio company, Entercom, and one radio/TV broadcaster, Entravision. Radio is certainly out of favor and Marci Ryvicker was clear on why that is the case: The market cap of the sector is too small to interest most investors.