CEO David Field takes pride in Entercom Communications leading the radio industry in revenue growth. But that was not the case in Q3 and Field minced no words in his quarterly Wall Street conference call in taking the blame for a disappointing quarter.
“We’re disappointed in the quarter. We hold ourselves accountable for delivering top-tier relative performance – and we didn’t get that done. We didn’t live up to that standard in third quarter. There are a number of companies that reported growth that is sort of in-line with us, or slower than us, but we hold ourselves accountable to a higher level and we didn’t achieve that. And the bottom line is that we did fall a couple points short of what our markets did and frankly we expect to do better than that,” Field said.
Entercom reported that its Q3 revenues were up 3% to $102.7 million. Station operating income was up 4% to $35.4 million. While those are positive numbers, rather than declines, they were well short of what another big market radio group, CBS, had reported the previous day.
What happened? “First, our execution fell short in a few of our markets. Plain and simple, we just didn’t get the job done in these markets. And second, we experienced some growing pains as we continue to press the pace of innovation, we didn’t do a very good job on integrating some of our initiatives this quarter, causing some distractions and de-focusing our sales teams,” Field said. “I suppose if we were a football team we would put this in the context of a long season, during which we had a great won-lost record and ask ourselves if there were some fundamental issues that dampen future performance expectations. Looking at our team and our prospects, the answer to that question is an emphatic no. We feel good about our prospects, based on our strong brands, top-notch management team and an expanding arsenal of digital capabilities.”
The company did not provide specific pacing information on Q4, but Field said the quarter is looking stronger than Q3. He did say that October was up about 9% and both November and December are “looking pretty good.”