“I am mad. I am mad at being abused and everybody with a light attitude looking at us and saying are you going to drop…there’s an expression that goes with that…but you’re going to drop and take the money we offer you. And I’m not that way. I’m not, you know, sitting on a bar stool in some cheap bar. I’m not doing that. This is not what this industry is all about,” complained Saga Communications CEO Ed Christian in his quarterly Wall Street conference call. Christian said he doesn’t like to turn down business, but he was critical of the radio industry for letting buyers push rates ever downward. Christian read from an exchange between his national sales manager in Milwaukee and a major agency in which Saga refused to accept the CPM being offered and questioned whether, as the would-be buyer claimed, they could make the buy and deliver for the advertiser without Saga’s stations.
Christian repeated what he’d said before about dealing with a split universe, where the larger markets are in trouble because they’ve become strictly transactional, while stations in the smaller markets are doing well because they deal with advertisers at the Main Street level. He noted a Katz report that national billings for January showed New York down 25.6%, San Francisco 28.9% and Dallas-Ft. Worth 29%, but that there was no real pattern for national sales if you look down into the smaller markets. Christian also cited a Katz report that more spots were sold in 2007 than 2006, but “at a markedly lower rate.”
In Saga’s smaller markets Christian said the company is discontinuing subscribing to Arbitron ratings. “We did not renew our Arbitron contracts this year in Ashville, NC, and in Charlottesville, VA, because we still have substantial questions on the efficacy and validity of paper diaries in 2008,” he said.
RBR/TVBR observation: Ed we at RBR agree with you 100%. In 25 years of publishing RBR we have never seen our radio medium more under respected at every level. And, this is not only at the station level but in many sectors of the business doing business in radio today. Many have either forgotten, to young in the biz or just flat out do not give a damn. We can say leadership but hell what is that any more? Bottom line the fish stinks at the head. The only way this entire radio medium is going to move forward is on a complete united business front attack. With strong radio marketing at every level of business and putting that in front of the eyes of where the money is – ad clients, agencies, and engaging into the digital world. One can not carry the water for an entire business across a desert – the carrying has to be shared and supported by all.