Not only were the months of September, October, and November disappointing to Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan, the only revenue visibility he provided about 2017 was, “I’d like to be hopeful.” That seems to be the norm for radio these days, work hard at grabbing as much revenue as you can and hope for the best at the end of the quarter.
Emmis radio revenue declined in those three months from $42.6 million to $42.5 million. Smulyan also said December was a tough month, off 9%. And, not surprisingly, Smulyan said political revenue did not come in the way the company expected. Emmis took in $900,000 in political revenue for the quarter, down 20% from the last presidential election cycle.
The Emmis CEO also gave a glimpse of how radio in general performed in the markets Emmis operates. In the Emmis markets (New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Terre Haute), Smulyan said the company was down 1.8%, while those markets were up 2.5%. When you back out Los Angeles, Emmis would have been up slightly. In L.A., Emmis is still recovering from the launch of iHeart’s Hip Hop station which grabbed audience and revenue from Power 106. That launch was over a year ago and iHeart also snagged popular morning man Big Boy.
On the positive side, Smulyan said the company had a spectacular year in Austin and St. Louis.