Is Radio Dying? In Little Rock, Radio Stations Work Harder

Radio’s “demise has been exaggerated many times,” according to Peter Bowman of Bowman Valuation Services in Alexandria, Va.

Radio in the 1920s survived the shift from silent movies to “talkies” and the growth of television in the ‘50s, Bowman said.

“You had things like eight tracks in the car, CDs in the car. That was supposed to kill radio. Cell phones were supposed to kill radio,” he said. Now, the predators are Internet and satellite streaming, he said.

“I think radio’s going to have to be nimble in adjusting to these new threats,” Bowman said. “Do I think that radio can adjust and survive? Yes. Can it thrive? That’s a question mark.”

Greater competition for listeners, now that radio comes on a variety of platforms, and the financial stress left over from the Great Recession are among the struggles for local station owners, said Steve Jonsson, general manager of Signal Media of Arkansas’ three stations. The fact that corporations can operate many stations while trimming expenses is, however, an advantage the big companies have, he said.

“It is really more and more difficult to make money on radio,” Jonsson said. “Everyone is really creative in this business.”

In Little Rock, radio stations are working harder for fewer advertising dollars. Data from Miller Kaplan Arase, an accounting firm in Los Angeles that provides media market revenue analysis, reveals about a 20 percent drop in total dollars spent on radio advertising in Little Rock since 2007. Total radio market revenue in 2007 was about $30.8 million and it has dropped steadily since. In 2012, the market’s total radio revenue was $24.7 million.

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