RAB: Radio Crippled in 2009

Radio may have just come out of its worst year in history. Total 2009 revenue, including on-air, off-air and digital, plummeted 18 percent to just over $16 billion, according to figures released Friday (Feb. 19) by the Radio Advertising Bureau.

The medium’s bread and butter—local and national on-air advertising—was down a whopping 20 percent to $13.2 billion. Network radio held up relatively well, declining 9 percent to just over $1 billion.

The only good news was the continued growth of digital, which increased 13 percent to $480 million.

In releasing the final revenue tally for radio, the Radio Advertising Bureau looked forward, pointing to the medium’s sequential improvement throughout the year.

“The green shoots that we saw earlier have fully taken root,” said Jeff Haley, president and CEO of the RAB. “In 2009, radio went from (-25) percent in May to flat in December, a tremendous lead-in to 2010.”

Auto spending was up 9 percent in fourth quarter, bolstered by budget increases from Kia Dealer Association, Kia Motor Corp., Audi Motor Corp. and Mini-Cooper Motor Corp.

Also up in fourth quarter was the grocery category; financial services; retail from chains such as Target, Kohl’s and JC Penney; wireless; and quick service restaurants.

The RAB’s estimates are based on data from Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co.