In the studio at WCKX (107.5 FM): from left, the Power Morning Crew of Konata, Misty Jordan and Paul Strong, and general manager Jeff Wilson.
Jeff Wilson doesn’t work in the radio business anymore. He is general manager of WCKX (107.5 FM), WXMG (98.9 FM) and WJYD (106.3 FM), but the word radio “is nowhere in our local creed,” he said recently. Better to call it “brand management,” he said.
It’s a new way of looking at the radio business, and it may be a key to the industry’s future, which, like that of other advertising-dependent media, is looking pretty grim. Revenue in the Columbus radio market, the nation’s 36th largest, fell by 21.2 percent to $34.1 million for the first six months of 2009, down from $43.4 million for the same period last year. The drop isn’t just from the absence of political ads, which crested as last year’s presidential election neared, managers say, or because fewer people are buying ads. The problem is that people are paying less per ad.
“A large part is not a consequence of fewer ads but a consequence of rates,” said Alan Goodman, general manager of Saga Communications’ stations in Columbus, which include WSNY (94.7 FM) and WJZA (103.5 FM). “There are roughly the same number of accounts utilizing radio. It’s the rate structure that has somewhat imploded.”