Ralph Guild, CEO and Chairman of Interep spoke on the media panel at UBS Warburg's 29th Annual Media Conference, discussing the current radio advertising environment, as well as challenges and opportunities for the industry.
Interep stated that a weak advertising environment is likely to leave radio down in 6% to 7% range for the year, with national radio showing declines in the 20% range. This would put total radio revenue slightly over $18 billion. Guild pointed out that the exceptional performance of radio during 2000, fueled by heavy dot-com spending, is partially accountable for such steep declines this year. More favorable comps will begin with 1st quarter 2002.
Looking ahead to next year, Guild predicts continuing advertising weakness through first quarter, and possibly into 2nd quarter, with local radio recovering slightly ahead of national. However, he stated that Interep remains "cautiously optimistic" that a second half recovery is possible. Based on this scenario, though still too early to predict with any certainty, Guild predicted 1% to 2% growth for radio in 2002.
Guild also said that when recovery does begin, it could be swift. This is especially true for national radio pacing, which will have easier 2002 comps due to sharp declines this year. After the 1991-1992 recession, radio generally outpaced total advertising growth from 1993 through the remainder of the decade.
Guild also spoke on other issues and trends that may affect radio in the coming years, including many of the changes revealed by the 2000 Census. He addressed changes in the demographic composition of the U.S. population, growth of ethnic communities, and continuing urban sprawl, which is contributing to increased time spent driving. "The results of Census 2000 revealed some significant changes in the consumer landscape that will clearly impact radio in the coming years. It is important for broadcasters to keep abreast of these trends to assure that radio continues to play a key role within our changing nation," said Mr. Guild.
Guild also touched upon the sales and market share opportunities that recessions offer those advertisers who maintain strong marketing campaigns. Interep has launched its own marketing campaign this year on behalf of radio, called Radio 20:20, with the goal of generating new radio dollars and increasing radio's share of total advertising.
Guild added, "There will be winners from this current recession, just as in past recessions. Due in part to our Radio 20:20 efforts, we hope that one of these winners will be radio - our product." In conclusion, Mr. Guild said, "My confidence in the long-term growth of the medium is unshaken. Radio remains a vital part of consumers lives, now more than ever."
To listen to a webcast of Mr. Guild's presentation, or for a transcript, please visit the Interep website at http://www.interep.com.