By Holland Cooke
Each year, you could hear a pin drop when Wells Fargo Securities Managing Director Marci Ryvicker grades the radio industry. Last year, she gave us a B. This year, we get a B+, based on publically traded groups’ stock evaluations.
Other factoids and forecasts she shared:
- Prediction: 2-3% advertising growth.
- Radio Time Spent Listening is stable, but not being fully-monetized (music to a consultant’s ears).
- Her company’s analysts see Syria & Obamacare as concerns, but don’t expect negative impact on radio advertising. Ryvicker was among Radio Show speakers who foresee Obamacare-related ad revenue.
- One economist reckons that recent stock market gains “will be gone by the end of the year;” though Ryvicker was quick to characterize this opinion as an outlier.
- “What will radio do when newspaper ad sales stabilizes? The low-hanging fruit will be gone.”
Talk about plain talk!
Next, four respected group heads were interviewed, and often interrupted by applause from attendees they left buzzing.
Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw was my very first station client when I became McVay Media’s News/Talk consultant in 1995. And – like the love of fine wine that he says inspired his company’s name – his candor is aging well:
- Radio’s woes are “self-inflicted. If we suck, will listening continue?”
- Less local-local-local and commercials that are too-many-and-too-bad will prevent AM/FM broadcasters from defending against Pandora and other new-tech interlopers.
- And you could hear chuckling New Englanders scattered around the ballroom when Warshaw alluded to political revenue his Connecticut stations enjoyed via wealthy former WWE CEO Linda McMahon’s two unsuccessful U.S. Senate runs. Jeff deems her “a revenue category unto herself.”
Citdel founder Larry Wilson is back in the game, as Alpha CEO and Chairman of L&L, which he explained stands for “live and local.”
- Asked why – after cashing-out – he came back to radio, Wilson quipped “I got married, and my wife said ‘You gotta go to work.’”
- He one-upped Warshaw’s beef about spot load, criticizing what he called “crappy, terrible ads.”
- Echoing other panelists’ local-local-local mantra, Wilson said “voice tracking is not good, dead, a waste of great facilities.”
NRG Media CEO Mary Quass:
- Thoughtful, provocative idea I’ll immediately steal: Programming litmus test: “Is it good-enough that listeners would time shift it?” Her surmise, of radio generally, “Not just no, HELL no!”
- Sharing fellow panelists’ assessment that, too often, radio mails-it-in: “There are things we-as-an-industry have to suck-it-up and start doing.”
Cumulus Media CEO Lew Dickey:
- Yes, “the audio ecosystem expanding,” although AM/FM listeners have always also bought music. In his view, Pandora is simply “the new mix tape.”
- Dickey predicts that, like radio, Pandora and other pureplays will eventually consolidate.
- The new iTunes Radio obsoletes iTunes as a music store.
- AM/FM radio is competing well with SiriusXM.
- “Radio wins in-car “because we’re [already] there.” So we’ve got to get on smartphones too.
Follow HC’s real-time coverage of the NAB/RAB Radio Show @HollandCooke on Twitter, and at www.HollandCooke.com; and in daily summaries here. And meet Holland at Talkers/LA October 10.