The nation's sluggish economy put a strain on Radio ad sales for March, yet local numbers were only marginally affected, dipping 6% while national revenues dropped 23% from the same month a year ago. On a combined basis, local and national dollars were off 10% during March. Comparing sales for March of 2001 with last year is difficult, however, since combined local and national revenues shot up 21% in March 2000, fueled by a 15% boost in local activity and a 40% jump in national sales. These monthly totals are based on the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) Radio revenue index of more than 100 markets.
Through the first quarter of 2001, combined local and national revenues were running 7% behind the first three months of a banner 2000. Individually, local dollars were off just 3%, while national sales were down 20%.
As a way of putting the intermediate and long-term growth of the Radio industry into better perspective, RAB has introduced an index that equates base year 1998 to 100. The index works similar to the Gross Pricing Index so that the information can be monitored on a monthly basis. The Sales Index numbers for March reflect overall growth from base year 1998. Local is 131.2, National is 127.7 and combined total is 130.9. On a year-to-date basis, the Local index is 133.4, the national is 127.4 and the combined total is 132.2.
"Local Radio continues to be more stable relative to other media sectors," observed Gary Fries, President and Chief Executive Officer, RAB. "The nature of the Radio business is so embedded in the local marketplace, that it will sustain our medium through this slowdown in the economy. Once we get into the later half of 2001, past the high comparisons from the first six months of 2000, Radio will be well positioned to pick up momentum."
The accounting firms of Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. and Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols and Carter provide the local and national revenue data on the more than 100 markets RAB uses to calculate its revenue index.
The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) is the sales and marketing arm of the Radio industry with more than 5000 member stations in the U.S. and over 900 additional members in networks, representative firms, sales and international organizations.