A big part of that drop — between $500K and $800K — was blamed on a ransomware attack that affected the entire company, according to CFO Peter Thompson. It cost the company another $500,000 on the expense line to get the issue fixed. The company did not pay ransom to anyone to resolve the matter. Here’s what happened.
Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that, once it’s taken over your computer, threatens you with harm, usually by denying you access to your data. The attacker demands a ransom from the victim, promising — not always truthfully — to restore access to the data upon payment.
The attack on Urban One was company-wide and started on a weekend. Commercials were missed as the company worked on getting computers back online. Before order was restored, CEO Alfred Liggins said between $500,000 and $800,000 in revenue was lost.
Also contributing to the negative quarter were ad buys from Wal-Mart and T-Mobile placed in Q1 of 2018 that did not return in 2019. National revenue dropped 9.8 % and local was down 6.1%.
Despite what Liggins called a “crappy” quarter for Radio One, he still sounded upbeat about radio overall. “The rest of the industry seems to have done much better. The industry tide is good and we’re really bouncing back in Q2.” Liggins said Washington, DC, is doing great, Houston is rebounding, and Baltimore is healthier than it has been in a long time.
Looking ahead to the next political season, Liggins joked that it seemed like a Democrat was jumping into the Presidential race every day. “Democrats getting in the race is costing me a lot of money because I know a lot of them and they are all calling me.” Liggins, like every other radio station operator, is hoping for a very robust political spending season.