Radio advertising up 6% to $8.2 billion

Every segment except network radio rises in first half of 2010

Radio's recovery might not be as dramatic as local TV, but it's nothing to sniff at.

The Radio Advertising Bureau said industry advertising grew 6% in the first half of the year to $8.2 billion. With the exception of network radio, which was flat, every radio segment was up.

Second-quarter gains mirrored the first-quarter's, showing consistent growth. National spot continues to lead radio's recovery, up 17% in the first six months to $1.3 billion. Local, radio's largest business segment, rose 3% to $5.5 billion. Still a small fraction of total revenue dollars, digital was up 22% to $280 million. Off-air revenue inched up 1% to $661 million.

Categories fueling radio's rebound include auto, up 28% through June 30; financial services (up 24%); and grocery/convenience/liquor stores (up 23%), television/networks/cable providers (up 12%) and professional services (up 14%).

"More than half of radio's top 16 categories showed increased spending, collectively adding 15% for a half-year gain of more than $500 million," said Jeff Haley, president and CEO of the RAB. Auto accounts for 27% of the $500 million increase.

Communications/cellular was radio's top category, led by AT&T and Verizon Wireless, with first-half spending of $243.3 million and $210.2 million, respectively, In second quarter, AT&T solidified its lead spot in the category with a 16% increase to $134.6 million, and head-to-head competitor Verizon Wireless was relatively flat at $105.9 million.

Political dollars never have been a huge contributor to radio, but the category brought in $20.1 million during the second quarter, with 44% coming from candidates including Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and John McCain.