“Never confuse me with the facts”

-Groucho Marx

The great comedian was a master of deception and this famous line helped Groucho ignore the facts of any plot situation and plow ahead with his manic comedic schemes, which always resulted in more hilarious mayhem and a laughing and very entertained movie going public.

Let’s fast forward to 2013 as we sometimes face Groucho-like attitudes towards our business and the great medium of Radio, even today.

We have all encountered Groucho in the press and on blogs, which in turn is read by our clients, which in turn is read by us, and so the cycle goes. Before we can say “urban myth”, it becomes “fact” in our collective minds.

If we took the time to answer every blog post, media critic, and self-proclaimed “media expert”, with their wildly opinionated positions of Radio’s decline (facts are never cited) or that audience is eroding, (facts are never cited) or a personal agenda they are promoting (facts are never cited) we would spend our day just defending our industry and nothing else would happen.

We prefer a different approach to all the Grouchos out there that claim Radio is a legacy media and not the powerhouse it once was. Please allow us to indeed, confuse our critics with the facts. (Miller-Kaplan: January-May 2013) 

Southern California Radio is not only growing in audience and revenue YTD, it’s sustaining a wonderful upward trend, despite all the misguided and misinformed perceptions. More importantly, sophisticated advertisers continue to invest more of their advertising budget in Radio.

To really appreciate how robust and resilient our medium is, we need only go back to 2009, when our business (and just about everyone else’s) was reeling from the historic recession, and Southern California Radio experienced a 22.7% decline due to serious economic setbacks from our advertisers. Now, just 4 years later, our business has righted itself, and is enjoying a 3.5% increase YTD through May 2013.

That is an outstanding turnaround by any measurement despite years of a choppy economy that featured nagging unemployment, limited market growth, and the introduction of numerous competitive media, all vying for our listeners’ attention.
Any rational business analyst could easily come to the conclusion that Southern California Radio is a powerful, stable, and solid business, and we would agree.

Moreover, this growth goes beyond the numbers and percentages. Let’s follow the money and see how major advertisers by category are investing their budgets with our 186 member radio stations so far through May 2013.

They clearly have not been listening to any of the “Grouchos” as they know their radio campaigns are working to increase market share and brand awareness or they wouldn’t be spending MORE in Radio, a lot more. These are smart, sophisticated marketers that are only looking for results, and have found it in Radio.

Consider the following revenue increases by category growth for Southern California Radio YTD through May 2013. (Miller-Kaplan: January-May 2013)

  • Financial Services – up 52.2%
  • Cell Phone Companies – up 55.9%
  • Education – up 42.5%
  • Foods/Producers – up 18..8%
  • Sporting Events/Expos/Shows –  up 82.6%
  • Consumer Products – up 18.1%
  • Shopping Centers – 53.8%
  • Hotel/Motel/Resorts – up 27.5%
  • Sporting Goods –  up 14.8%
  • Music Stores/DVDs/Video – up 26.4%

And we are only listing categories with double digit growth!

To be fair, there are categories that are seasonally down like beverages, casinos/lotteries, oil and gas, specialty retailers, and concerts/theatres. However, these businesses tend to be cyclical and reflect more the function of their products than the medium they invest in.

Now that we have factually covered Radio’s solid revenue growth, let’s turn our attention to the product of Radio itself and the millions of people in all age groups that continue to rely on this free, over the air and online friend to the masses.

Contrary to what the Grouchos keep telling us all, radio listenership stands at an all-time high with over 243 million Americans listening every week. (Arbitron)

Among our 186 member stations here in Southern California, total Arbitron weekly listenership 18+ to all of our radio stations is surging at over 12.8 million listeners per week.

While we always enjoy a good Marx Brothers movie, when it comes to the business of Southern California Radio, we prefer to work with the facts.