AMS News

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Clear Channel report reflects radio's cloudy future

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Posted: Sept. 17, 2006
Tim Cuprisin

It's safe to say that commercial radio, like the rest of the commercial media, is in a state of flux.

Word came last week from The New York Times that Clear Channel, the mega-chain with some 1,200 radio stations (including a half-dozen in Milwaukee) was considering selling some of its radio properties. The number floating around is 72 stations.

That story follows a study by American Media Services that says a quarter of Americans listen to less radio than they did five years ago. Radio advertising revenue is down, as well.

The listener study stresses the positives, which isn't a surprise since American Media Services is a radio station broker. But it does show troubling signs for the industry.

Almost 54% of respondents to the survey say they haven't heard anything about high-definition radio, which the industry sees as a way to battle the growth of satellite radio. A number of Milwaukee stations are broadcasting high-def signals, although there are few radios in circulation that can pick up the ultra-crisp sound.

Satellite radio is having its own problems right now. Although the numbers of subscribers are growing for XM and Sirius - with Sirius growing more quickly these days, thanks at least partially to Howard Stern - they're not pulling in money quite yet.

Talk continues to circulate that the satellite competitors will merge, which would create one larger competitor for old-fashioned terrestrial radio.

Add that to people, especially younger potential listeners, who program their own music choices on their iPods, and commercial radio has some problems to deal with.

Take all this into account when you hear of changes at your favorite radio stations.

Reach Tim Cuprisin at (414) 224-2397 or e-mail him at

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