CBS Radio’s Mason Sees Improved Ad Sales

Spring offers hope, and a growing number of radio execs are buzzing about better days ahead.

It started last week with Emmis Communications founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan. While reporting disappointing final quarter financial results which included radio revenue being off 18 percent to $51.1 million for the period ending Feb. 28, Smulyan found room to be the eternal optimist. “Across our properties, we see signs that the operating environment is slowly improving,” he said.

This week, CBS Radio president and CEO Dan Mason reported that the group is seeing improved ad sales during the second quarter at some of its major market station and that online streaming of CBS radio signals is growing. In an interview with MarketWatch, Mason said that some major new advertisers are returning to the dial along with some beloved veteran clients. Mason said ad trends are improving, and he speculates that advertisers who had held back from spending on radio in the fourth quarter and during the first two months of this year are springing loose from their cabin fever.

“What we’re seeing is that our [advertising] inventory is becoming very tight in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco,” Mason said. “About a year ago, there was a glut in the marketplace.”

Along with a return of the telecommunications advertising category, Mason reported landing a big fish—a “multimillion dollar deal” in Blockbuster, the home video company owned by CBS sister company Viacom, which has not been advertising on radio for several years.

CBS Radio has seen an uptick, Mason reports, particularly at his stations that have dumped fledging formats for new formats such as CHR/top 40 KLSX (97.1 AMP Radio)/Los Angeles where the cume has zipped up to about 2.4 million listeners from 600,000, all in about six weeks after the winter flip. WXYT/Detroit has experienced similar growth, Mason says, after the Free FM format was dumped for sports talk and play-by-play action for four major sports franchises—the Lions, Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers—was added.