RAB: Ad Revenues Fall 24% In 1Q

Total radio advertising revenue declined 24% in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau, which released the figures Thursday afternoon. Total revenues amounted to just over $3.4 billion -- a drop of over $1 billion from the first quarter of last year, when they amounted to about $4.5 billion.

The precipitous drop suggests that further declines are on the way, as the radio business reels from the same recessionary trends that are affecting most other parts of the media. The recession is a popular culprit in earnings announcements from radio broadcasters -- but actually there is also a long-term decline underlying the current drops.

This is the eighth straight quarter to see radio advertising revenue fall. The slide began in the second quarter of 2007, while the broader recession did not begin until the fourth quarter of 2007, according to experts at the non-partisan, government-funded body that tracks the economy.

On the positive side, radio's digital revenues are still growing, increasing 13% in the first quarter to $101 million. But clearly, digital is still a very small part of radio's bottom line, representing just 3% of total quarterly revenues.

Next story loading loading..