“Radio Is A Challenged Industry”


Those are the words of the normally upbeat Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan after reporting Q4 earnings, Thursday morning. There really wasn’t much good news to report, with all three months and nearly every metric down for Emmis in the quarter. Add to that the fact that Smulyan is parting with one of his prized possessions to knock down debt, KPWR-FM in Los Angeles. Here are all the Q4 details.

Emmis’ radio net revenues for the fourth fiscal quarter were $34.0 million, down from $36.4 million from the prior year, a decrease of 6.6%. New York City and Los Angeles were Emmis’ weakest markets, while St. Louis and Austin were Emmis’ best-performing clusters. National, local, and NTR revenue were all down for Emmis in December, January, and February. The number of minutes sold was down and Emmis’ average unit rate was lower. Automotive, Emmis’ largest category in Q4, was down 7%. Healthcare, Cellular, Entertainment, and Financial Services were all weak categories while Media and Government were strong.

Smulyan said, “This is an industry that has been challenged the past four or five months. We’re hopeful that with a much more flexible balance sheet and significantly less debt, it will allow us to perform and do some things that will help our performance.” He said, WBLS and HOT 97 in New York are doing well and the changes that market manager Charlie Morgan is putting in place are starting to bear fruit. “We feel pretty comfortable about the back half of the year. We are poised to do well.”


  1. What percentage of radio’s income is dedicated to R & D?
    How long has this been the case?
    What is the startup date for this process to begin?
    What are the areas that will be getting the first amount of attention?
    And what of Programming and Creative?
    Perhaps “treating them like dogs” is considered quite sufficient.

  2. Mr. Smulyan quotes debt and P&L figures like that is going to make the product better. That’s like a salesperson looking at their billing report hoping for sales to appear. What have corporations done to nurture and grow the industry? There’s your ‘challenge’.


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