RAB Pres Praises Industry at Radio Show
In his semi-annual State of the Industry speech at the National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) Radio Show in San Francisco yesterday, Gary Fries, President and CEO of the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), urged the industry to remain focused on the job at hand and not be distracted by the politics of consolidation.
Calling for a continued commitment to community, Fries reminded the audience that 80% of the Radio business still comes from local sales. "We have moved from a private to a publicly held industry, and that has brought attention and expectations from people outside our business," Fries explained. "We need to understand that change, and its cause and effect."
Referring to the recent percentage increases in revenue, Fries noted that Radio is up 19% for the year due to an aggressive first and second quarter. "A few years ago, we were up 12% and we thought that was great. Then we had a phenomenon where we started hitting 20% increases. Now, it's back to reality," he said, "and we're reverting back to 13 to 14%."
"But all the stars are not in place," he cautioned. Fries pointed to a soft agricultural market, the pause in the development of new campaigns due to the SAG/AFTRA strike, and the current unprecedented competitive arena for consumers' attention due to the simultaneous occurrence of the Olympics and the political campaigns.
Cautioning against panic, Fries stated that this was a "short-term deal," and urged the industry to train its people to deal with the new environment. "We must be on the offensive and go out and get that business."
Looking forward to 2001, Fries challenged the industry to improve on four points. Raise the level of the Radio marketing representative; improve leadership at all levels; grasp new technology and the Internet; and transition into where we're going, not where we've been.
"We can't just sell spots anymore," he warned. "Advertisers are looking for results. We need to train our people, use all our resources and understand what our clients' businesses are all about.
"Creativity is falling by the wayside," Fries said referring to the quality of station-produced commercials. "Spots that don't motivate people, don't get results. We've been dealt a change, but we still have to train our troops."
Commenting on the changes wrought by the advent of the Internet age, Fries noted that Radio is no longer a single delivery device and will merge with the new technology. "We are tremendous programmers and we are in the content business. There are all kinds of ways we are going to make money on the Internet. We have to change the way we think. Somebody's going to provide that content. The answers," he said, "are coming from the smallest markets."
Fries also hastened the industry to transition into the future by growing its own infrastructure and urging the industry to embrace electronic invoicing.
"The Internet will take us into an accountable environment