July revenue figures for radio never figured to look good. According to CL King Senior Analyst Jim Boyle, Wall Street was looking for a loss, but thought radio could hold the line at -4%. Boyle thinks when the latest RAB/Miller Kaplan figures are released shortly, the bottom line will be more like -6%/-7%. Boyle’s not surprised though – in fact, if radio pulls in -6%, that will actually be better than what he was expecting (the other number in that range is spot on to what he predicted). Regardless of the final number, it is sure to be radio’s 15th negative month in a row. Boyle sees a huge small market advantage. Large markets are trending -7%, and medium markets are trending -5%, but the small markets are looking at a 2% gain. The small market edge has been an almost almost unbroken monthly phenomenon for that past two and a half years.
He expects the red ink to continue throughout Q3, and he said he also expects radio leadership to do very little about it. “There is a notable sense of denial of how harsh the prospects have been and continue to be for Radio,” he wrote. “The classic CEO reply is Radio is not bleeding as badly as Newspapers. We concede there is too little radio ad demand, but there is also too little rate card integrity and too little investment in radio’s product and people for the long-term. It very much looks to us as all rear-guard counter-punching.”
RBR/TVBR observation: One thing is for sure: Radio executives will have a lot to talk about in Austin next month. The question is, will those assembled have their eyes on a more fertile plain off toward the horizon, with a viable plan for getting there, or will the sessions be conducted ostrich-style six inches beneath the sand?