Radio predictions from Mediathink guru Tom Barnes:
Another 3% year lies ahead. We agree with most forecasters–that growth will need to come locally. We really don’t see any national growth this year. It’s too bad. Radio, in many cases can still be a bargain on a national basis. We expect to see a considerable amount of national business booked as local, because that will be how it is purchased. We don’t see the national trend turning until radio can credibly deliver an integrated offering (web, promotion, advertising, accountability) that reaches an enormous number of people. Format changes have been rare over the past 4 years. We think they will be considerably less rare in ’05 as stations seek inexpensive ways to spike ratings and break out of very tight races. We think Howard will leave Infinity sooner rather than later. The FCC is looking for heads and his is the biggest. The talent and content loss to sat radio is substantial. We think many radio broadcasters already understand this and are working to compensate. Howard’s replacement will draw a lot of speculation, so we won’t contribute. We think there is talent to grow into his shoes. Howard’s departure from terrestrial radio will take a minimum of 3 months to impact his affiliates’ ratings. Format changes will help prop up ratings for many of Howard Stern affiliates through the rest of the fiscal year he departs. This is why most of the historical analysis of his departure from Clear Channel may be less relevant than it appears. The vacuum of Howard’s departure will separate the men from the boys on the programming side. Howard typically overshadowed other station’s images (like music, or other talent). The only failure that will occur will be in stations that don’t have a morning show replacement and in which a format change is not an option. We don’t expect to see that condition in many markets.
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