Radio Industry Continues to Grow Revenue in First Quarter

The 3 percent increase comes after the sector returned to revenue gains in 2010 after three years of declines.

NEW YORK – The radio industry saw revenue growth of 3 percent in the first quarter, marking its fifth consecutive quarter of improvement, the Radio Advertising Bureau reported on Friday.

The latest increase pushed quarterly industry revenue to $3.78 billion driven by growth in advertising spending by beverage firms (up 32 percent), auto companies (up 27 percent) and other categories.

After three years of declines, the radio industry returned to revenue growth last year – with a 6 percent gain - as an improving economy, elections and rebounding auto makers boosted ad results.

Radio's top five revenue categories in the opening quarter of 2011 based on spot spending were communications/cellular ($338 million), auto dealers/manufacturers ($333 million), television/networks/cable providers ($295 million), restaurants ($262 million) and financial services ($212 million). AT&T (with $122 million in spending), McDonald's ($85 million) and Comcast ($84 million) were the biggest spot advertisers of the quarter.

"The consistent ad spending increases from advertisers in radio's top five categories are significant," said RAB president and CEO Jeff Haley. "This growth, indicative of confidence in radio's platforms, is echoed across multiple categories and leading marketers like communications giant AT&T, quick service restaurant leader McDonalds and supermarket titan Safeway."

CBS Corp. management recently said that the firm's radio business is also trending higher in the current second quarter.

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