Adspend Down, Listeners Up for US Radio

19 December 2001

Two new reports offer mixed news for America’s radio ad sector.

On the negative side, the Radio Advertising Bureau announced that the medium’s ad revenues were down again in October, falling 8% year-on-year – 15% for national sales and 6% for local.

Radio adspend is on course for an 8% drop over the full year compared with 2000, though RAB president/ceo Gary Fries predicted a 3% rise for 2002. Analysts are not so sure, limiting growth forecasts for next year to between zero and 2% at best.

In a more positive note, the RADAR 71 Radio Network Audience Report for the fall, newly released by Arbitron, showed the audience for network radio commercials rose by 3.4% year-on-year, the highest increase for over a year.

Based on a survey of 12,000 people aged twelve and over, RADAR measures national audiences of radio ads on 31 networks operated by ABC, American Urban Radio Network, Westwood One and Premiere Radio Networks, part of Clear Channel Communications.

Audience gains were posted by 24 of the thirty-one networks, with six of the seven that declined owned by Westwood One. Attracting the most listeners was Westwood CNNMax, despite a 1.7% slip in ratings.

The biggest rise, 16.5%, was at Premiere Morning Drive FM, part of Premiere Radio Networks, which owns six of the top ten stations. Particularly steep falls were suffered by Blaise (18.1%) and Navigator (16.6%), whose new figures were compared with over-optimistic audience estimates drawn up by their owner Westwood when they joined the ratings service.

The top ten were as follows:

1. Westwood CNN Max
2. Premiere Morning Drive AM
3. Premiere Diamond
4. Premiere Morning Drive FM
5. Premiere Pulse
6. ABC Prime
7. Premiere Focus
8. Westwood Source Max
9. Westwood Blaise
10. Premiere Action

News sources:; (US); Arbitron website