Olympics, Politics Boost Radio


September looms as the defining month for radio buyers—promising third-quarter increases of 5%-6% if it's strong, 3%-4% if it isn't. Political spending could push the needle forward or back.

Interep VP, marketing, Michele Skettino notes a "softness in radio spending" continuing through July and August. In the third quarter, among national radio's top categories, automotive is "down significantly, telecommunications down slightly and retail sluggish."

September, though, "is pacing well," she reports.

"Third quarter is a challenge for everybody, local and national," says Stu Olds, CEO, Katz Media Group. "We've got the Olympics in August, back to school in September and political in October," he adds. "Usually, national spot doesn't get a lift from the Olympics or political, but there could be some trickle-down. September looks to be very strong."

Says Maribeth Papuga, SVP/director of local broadcast, MediaVest, "You can still buy in any market, but September could be a turnaround for spot radio if political pushes broadcast beyond some buyers." Right now, Papuga sees third-quarter gains in the "mid single digits."

The Radio Advertising Bureau recently released healthy radio sales in Los Angeles for first half 2004, suggesting similar growth potential for the entire industry, according to RAB President/CEO Gary Fries.

Arase Data's Miller Kaplan says radio revenue for Los Angeles' estimated 37 radio stations "better than doubled local TV in growth and produced 10 times the growth posted by local newspapers": 5.8% vs. 2.6% for TV, 0.5% for print.

"Historically, the L.A. radio market is a lead indicator of the direction of nationwide radio revenue trends," Fries explains. "[This] is very encouraging."