Radio Stations

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 3,100 radio firms in the US operate radio broadcasting studios and facilities that transmit programming to the public, affiliates, or subscribers. Major revenue categories include local advertising; national and regional advertising; programs; public and non-commercial programming; and network compensation. Satellite radio broadcasters generate the majority of revenue through subscription fees. Public radio stations receive the majority of revenue from listener contributions.

Regulation Impacts Operations

Radio broadcasters are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which governs licensing, ownership, and assignment of frequencies, locations, power, and other technical parameters.

Seasonality Affects Revenues

Revenue can be uneven and subject to seasonal factors.

Industry size & Structure

The average independent radio broadcasting company operates out of a single location, employs about 16-17 workers, and generates $6-7 million annually.

    • The radio broadcast industry consists of about 3,100 firms that employ about 52,500 workers and generate about $21.9 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated at the top; the top 20 companies account for about 76% of industry revenue.
    • The majority of firms operate within a limited geographical market. Large companies include iHeartRadio (formerly Clear Channel Communications), Cumulus Media, NPR, and SiriusXM Radio.
    • Large companies may have operations related to other forms of media, such as television or outdoor advertising.
    • The industry excludes Internet-only radio services, such as Pandora. Internet-only radio providers are considered part of the Internet broadcasting and services industry.
                              Industry Forecast
                              Radio Stations Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Mar 20, 2024 - Ad Prices Increase
                              • • Radio stations significantly increased their prices during 2023, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Industry employment increased slightly during 2023, according to the BLS. Radio station sales are forecast to grow at a 3.69% compounded annual rate from 2023 to 2027, slower than the growth of the overall economy, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc.
                              • Internet radio broadcaster Pandora has purchased a local radio station in Rapid City, SD, to in hopes of getting the lower royalty rates given to terrestrial broadcasters, according to company officials. "Pandora shouldn't be discriminated against simply because we don't own a radio station," said Pandora attorney Christopher Harrison. Playing a song on the radio was considered a free advertisement for a record when royalty rates were first established according to National Public Radio. Since rights holders were getting money from record sales, they got less from radio royalties. Paul Williams, the president of ASCAP, says that broadcasters pay the same in royalties for radio and streaming because those streams account for a tiny portion of their audience. "The fact is," he says, "they're very, very different models. Internet radio and terrestrial radio use music and generate revenue in different ways."
                              • The number of AM radio stations decreased by 40 in 2023 to 4,444 as of December 31, 2023, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The AM radio station total decreased by 175 stations during the five-year period ending on December 31, 2023. The number of FM commercial stations decreased by 23 in 2023 to 6,663 while the number of FM educational stations increased by 79 during the year to a total of 4,286.
                              • Nearly one third (32%) of all respondents (not just radio buyers) to a 2023 Borrell Associates’ advertiser survey said that they were buying digital advertising from a radio company. Radio eclipsed all other local media channels for the first time: 26% of buyers surveyed purchased digital advertising from a newspaper company, 19% from an agency, 18% from a local TV station, and 9% from a local cable system. Broadcast radio tied with direct mail for first place among advertisers planning to increase or start buying the medium. Seven percent of radio buyers said that they plan to increase spending on radio for the rest of 2023, while 5% of non-buyers said they plan to start buying radio soon. Taken together, 12% of respondents said that they plan to either increase or start buying radio, versus 12% for direct mail, 7% for broadcast TV, 5% for newspapers, and 4% for cable.
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