Boston Radio Ad Revenues Falling Like A Rock

Radio advertising revenue is sinking fast in Boston, according to The Globies and All Access.

Ominously, the $14m drop occurred well before the overall economy slowed to a crawl. So one can imagine the situation has only deteriorated since then.

WEEI took the biggest hit, according to the Globe, but WRKO and WTKK figures aren’t disclosed:

Even the usual big earners are down this year. Sports talk WEEI-AM (850) earned $31 million, down from $36.5 million in 2006. News talk WBZ-AM (1030) billed $34.5 million, down from $35.1 million the year before. On the FM side, “Magic” WMJX-FM (106.7) dipped to $23.8 million from $24 million; “Mix” WBMX-FM (98.5) sank to $17.9 million from $18.3 million; WBCN-FM (104.1) fell to $17.55 million from $18 million; “Oldies” WODS-FM (103.3) slipped to $17 million from $17.25 million; classic rock WZLX-FM (100.7) ticked down to $16.7 million from $16.8 million; and WROR-FM (105.7) dropped to $11.65 million from $13.7 million.

The Boston Crime Show

It’s been a common theme here: how some Boston talk hosts struggle because they lack a basic understanding of the medium and audience.

Here’s an interesting discussion on Michele McPhee’s attempt to do a daily one-topic, one-town program on Boston and crime.

Nearly everywhere, talk radio builds its audience in the suburbs and rural areas, not the largest cities. Boston is definitely no exception to the rule.

Where I live, few give a rip about the place and even fewer visit except to catch a plane, baseball game, or if forced into a heart attack-inducing mega-commute. Many try to avoid even that by flying out of Providence or seeing the PawSox instead.

If something nutty is going on in Boston that is entertaining to suburbanites, such as the latest stupid Menino comment, then sure, it’s a topic. But nobody cares about City Hall and BPD inside baseball.

Single-topic shows also fail almost universally. The few exceptions have been during temporary, high-interest events, such as the OJ trial, which carried a few shows in California during the 1990s.

Police blotter crime talk doesn’t have a prayer, especially when it fails to relate to talk radio’s average listener. Occasionally, a crime wave in Boston joined with the mayor’s weak response might be of interest for an hour or so, but that’s about it.

Frankly, I’m curious: between McPhee and the station, who thought this concept would work and why? Did McPhee make any attempt to learn about talk radio and what makes it succeed elsewhere? Did she bother to talk to anyone in the field (especially outside of provincial Boston), or merely jump in head-first?

Does she have any interests outside of crime reporting? That would be the first step toward broadening the show.

Would you move into any new profession without first doing your homework? Why would talk radio be any different?

One Penny Above

Entercom shares closed today just one penny above their all-time closing low.

At $9.70 a share, the company’s market capitalization is now just a hair above a mere $300m and previous support at $10 appears broken.

At this level, ETM’s dividend yield is at an unrealistic 14.55%, usually a sign payouts will soon be slashed to pieces.

Worse, Standard & Poors has indicated it may downgrade ETM over concerns about its debt load and deteriorating earnings picture.

Entercom shareholders have now lost 78% of their investment over the last five years, 65% in the past year alone. Meanwhile, the clouds just seem to grow darker over the company.

Keller’s Big Scoop

While his casino bill was going down in flames, Deval Patrick was apparently shopping his autobiography to the highest bidder.

That’s quite a scoop by WBZ’s Jon Keller, who is soliciting potential book titles from readers.

It doesn’t get any better than this.

UPDATE:The Globies are all over this one, as is the Herald.

UPDATE: Patrick has reached a deal, according to The Globies. But what kind of market is there for this book? Deval’s local popularity couldn’t possibly be lower and he is still relatively unknown outside of the Bay State. Sounds like the publishing house didn’t do its homework.