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AG News: 4/25/2006

Radio Industry - State of Sales

The hairs on my neck raised three inches higher than they normally stand when reading about Gary Fries' "State of Radio Sales" (linked below). "Gary Fries ‘Very Disappointed’ In Radio Industry" was the headline RadioInk used to describe this RAB CEO's feelings. Unbelievable is another word I can use, now that he is chastising those who followed his lead.

This man has had a long run that's been a failed attempt at keeping the radio industry on track. For the past ten years he's shielded himself from troubles that plagued radio.

While many persons have been saying for a long time - nay, yelling - that radio was self-destructing by ignoring new media, Gary Fries is now being quoted as if this is a revelation: "New media is going to be part of the environment of the future, and we need to figure out how we are going to integrate with new media. How much time are we spending talking about this?"

This is April, 2006. But let's take a quick look at other comments Mr. Fries made through 2005; you'd have thought the radio industry was well on its way.
July, 2005 on the flat revenue for Q2 2005:
"The Radio industry is very actively and aggressively pursuing
new technologies, formats, and platforms which will drive the
business as we move forward into the second half of 2005 and
into 2006."
July 5, 2005 - May Revenue: "Looking forward, we anticipate that
Radio revenue will continue to progress as a direct result of the
significant programming, operational, and business advancements
that are being implemented by the industry."
June 3, 2005 - April Revenue: "Radio’s growth is on the horizon
as recently introduced technologies, programming formats, and
advertising platforms take root and propel the industry forward."
April 28, 2005 - March Revenue: "Radio is evolving at a rapid
pace, both technologically and creatively... Growth should
remain steady throughout the year, as the medium and its
advertisers explore how to maximize the advantages emerging
from this new landscape."

And this, which Mr. Fries stated in August 2004 while discussing the first Radio Lab Effectiveness Study titled "How Radio Ads Affect Consumers":
"I was surprised at the clarity of what the message [of the study]
is. What's most important is that there's no room for generic radio
commercials. To be effective at generating ROI, they [radio commericals]
have to touch the consumer."

Want to top this? Try this Gary Fries quote after release of the second Radio Lab Effectiveness Study: "The results of the study expose a striking difference between what we think and what our clients think."

The above are just samplings of the head-in-the-sand approach that has been speckled with comments about the industry being on the right track. Today, though, we are treated to this quote: "Fries said radio must find a way to merge radio advertising with Internet advertising."

Longtime Audio Graphics' readers know that this has been a central theme here, for the radio industry to couple its advertising system with what's being offered online. Our own RadioGraphics® has been in existence since 1997, and it's not the only approach that the radio industry chose not to accept. Another observation that was ignored appeared here in a list of "must do" items for radio on October, 2004: "The world is changing and radio has been going in the other direction."

Mr. Fries will soon be exiting his post at RAB. That he would use this time, his last address on the State of Radio Sales, to place blame on the industry without accepting responsibility as its leader goes beyond incredulous. A statement carrying more credibility would have him saying "I've been asleep at the helm."

All said, perhaps now the industry will start moving forward.

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President, Audio Graphics
Ken Dardis
Online Since January 1997

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