Virus Reverses Growth at Urban One


The “unique and extraordinary” events the nation is now facing put the brakes on growth at Urban One’s radio division with millions of dollars in cancellations from advertisers.

January was up 3.2% and February was up 13%. During a 10 day period during March, when the situation regarding the coronavirus turned critical, that positive momentum completely reversed with March now pacing down over 13%, according to CEO Alfred Liggins.

Like every other event that draws a big crow, the company had to cancel The Tom Joyner cruise which pulls in $10 million in revenue.

Q4 2019 revenue at Urban One was down 6.8% with radio down 11.6%. Political and national was off 21.8%, local dropped over 9% and Reach Media declined 13.3%. Excluding political, the radio division was down 2.9% in Q4.

The company saw revenue declines most significantly in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Raleigh and St. Louis markets, with Dallas up for the quarter.


  1. All Maryland casinos were closed on March 16. A midsize casino generates about $1million in revenue, just from slots alone.

    And political advertising, which is a two quarter bohemoth in a presidential election year, is almost on hold. The Bloomberg bump is also gone. I’m not sure there are new paying advertisers from the pandemic, but stores and restaurants seem to be suspending or cancelling. Meanwhile, the DOW is dropping like a WKRP turkey.

    So in my opinion, I don’t suspect a positive sales forecast.

  2. I believe Urban One also has a major investment in a D.C. casino, doesn’t it? With ‘social distancing’ and a growing list of mandatory ‘shelter in place’ orders from local and state governments, which require the shutting down of ‘non-essential’ businesses, this will temporarily halt revenue at the casino (and others around the country).

    In the meantime, though, Urban One and all other radio broadcasters can seek out new advertisers who need to reach out to the public and consumers during this unique coronavirus health crisis. There is often a ‘silver lining’ in many otherwise bad situations.


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