Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Audio Captures Small Slice of Ad Budgets

Digital audio will have 197.5 million adult listeners in the US this year, but each listener will generate only $36.05 in ad revenues. Radio fares slightly better at $49.10, but both pale next to most other major video platforms, according to eMarketer.

  • Audio captures only a small slice of ad budgets. eMarketer expects 4.5% of 2024 media spend in the US to go to audio, with digital audio capturing only 1.8% of that total. Even with steady growth over the next few years, digital audio’s share will drop to 1.6% by 2028, and overall audio will capture only 3.4%. By comparison, in 2024, traditional TV will capture 15.1% and digital video 27.8% of media spend.
  • Audio ad spend is less than time spent would suggest. The average adult will spend an average of 2:42 each day listening to audio in 2024—21.4% of total media time spent. A little over half of that (1:24) is digital audio.
  • Monetization via subscriptions limits digital audio ad slots. The relatively low ad spend reflects, in part, limited inventory. Audio subscriptions will account for 63.0% of digital audio revenues in 2024.

Even when taking time spent into consideration, audio advertising remains low. Digital audio will earn 5 cents per user hour in 2024, compared with 8 cents for radio and 21 cents for TV. But all of those are still lower than the 60 cents earned by social media, and even the 28 cents on digital video. The gap between social media and all other media will grow even bigger in 2025.

Forecast: Digital Ad Revenue To Experience Substantial Growth

According to eMarketer, digital audio advertising is set to experience substantial growth in 2024. Here are some key points:

Projected Growth: Digital audio advertising is expected to grow by 6.8% this year, reaching a total of $7.12 billion USD. This impressive growth accounts for 40.4% of all audio ad revenues. Reasons cited for Growth: 

Increased Listenership: The number of digital audio listeners is on the rise. By 2024, digital audio is estimated to constitute one-fifth of all time spent with digital media in the U.S. Nearly 75% of U.S. internet users will engage with digital audio this year, spending an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes per day listening to it—more time than spent on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube video1.

Steady Podcast Growth: Although the double-digit growth phase for podcast listeners has ended, podcasts continue to gain listeners faster than digital audio overall. By 2023, the U.S. podcast audience is expected to surpass 150 million. However, challenges remain, including measurement capabilities and the transition from embedded to dynamic ad insertion1.

Sticky Audio Platforms: Adult users of platforms like Spotify and Pandora spend significant time listening to audio daily, surpassing most social media platforms. This widespread reach provides opportunities for effective marketing across different stages of the funnel1.

Podcast Ad Spending: By the end of 2024, eMarketer predicts that podcast advertising will be an almost $2.6 billion market, doubling its estimated size from the previous year.

According to eMarketer, digital will account for more than 47% of audio ad dollars by 2028 when total audio advertising spend is projected to reach $18.42 billion.

The updated outlook for the ad market concluded audio advertising has shifted to digital at a slower pace that what has occurred in video.  For example television advertising has shown double-digit declines in years when political advertising doesn’t fill in the gaps, while AM/FM radio has seen a more gradual, low single digit erosion as digital audio advertising pulled away dollars from traditional radio.

FCC Votes This Week On Net Neutrality

The FCC has announced its agenda for an Open Meeting on Thursday, April 25, 2024. During this meeting, the FCC will vote on several other important matters:

Net Neutrality Rules: The FCC plans to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules that were rescinded under former President Donald Trump. Net neutrality refers to the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, without favoring or blocking specific products or websites. The move aims to ensure that broadband access remains fast, open, and fair.

The reinstatement of these rules has been a priority for President Joe Biden, who encouraged the FCC to take this step. Democrats now hold a majority on the five-member FCC, allowing them to move forward with this decision.

National Suicide Hotline Act of 2018: The FCC will also address the implementation of the National Suicide Hotline Act of 2018.

Unspecified Enforcement Actions: Additionally, the FCC will vote on a number of unspecified enforcement actions.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel emphasized the importance of broadband as an essential service, especially highlighted during the pandemic. The upcoming vote aims to restore net neutrality and ensure equitable access to the digital age for all.

Despite the 2017 repeal, several states have already implemented their own net neutrality laws or regulations, demonstrating the ongoing significance of this issue.

Norfolk Radio: McKay To Middays at WGH As Karen West Moves To AM

Barry McKay
Barry McKay, a seasoned radio personality, has taken over the midday shift at Max Media's 97.3 The Eagle (WGH-FM) in Norfolk, VA. This transition comes as part of lineup changes at the station. Let’s dive into the details:

Karen West’s Move: Karen West, a long-standing station personality, will be making a significant shift. After spending many years in the midday slot, she is moving to the Eagle Mornings show. 

As a one-woman show, she’ll wake up with listeners every weekday morning. Karen has been with WGH-FM since its flip to Country in 1990, and her journey has included roles as Music Director and Assistant Program Director.

Barry McKay’s Background: Barry McKay brings a wealth of experience to the midday slot. 

Karen West
His radio journey began at WTBO in Cumberland, MD, and he has since made stops in various markets, including Houston, Baltimore, Richmond, Seattle, and Wichita. Notably, he spent over twelve years as Program Director of 94.9 The Point (WPTE) in the Norfolk market. Most recently, he tracked remotely for Magic 106.3 (WSPA-FM) in Greenville, SC, until its recent format flip. Now, he’s thrilled to reconnect with the amazing listeners in Hampton Roads and be back on the airwaves at this heritage station12.

Max Media Hampton Roads VP/Market Manager Keith Barton expressed excitement about these changes. Karen West’s move to mornings created an opportunity for a seasoned veteran like Barry McKay to step into the midday slot. The team at Max Media is looking forward to their new roles and the impact they’ll have on listeners. 

Russian Air Strike Takes Out TV Tower in Ukraine

 A Russian missile strike that broke in half a 240-metre (787-foot) television tower in Kharkiv on Monday is part of a deliberate effort by Moscow to make Ukraine's second largest city uninhabitable, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Dramatic footage obtained by Reuters showed the main mast of the television tower breaking off and falling to the ground in the city that has been pounded by missile and drone strikes for weeks.

Audacy Sports Launches To Reach Ad-Buying Marketplace

Audacy is launching Audacy Sports to deliver a powerful selling proposition to the ad-buying marketplace.

Audacy creates more live, local and original premium audio sports content than any other media company. Aggregating its market-leading broadcast, digital and podcast inventory under Audacy Sports unleashes a market-differentiating opportunity for advertisers to connect with 43 million monthly listeners across the company’s sports portfolio while continuing to build equity in the Audacy brand. This announcement follows Audacy’s recent unveiling of Audacy Podcasts, a move to consolidate its podcast production and go-to-market monetization approach.

“We’re thrilled to bring together our unrivaled sports portfolio under Audacy Sports,” said Lee Davis, Senior Vice President of Sports Monetization, Audacy. “Consolidating our cross-platform sellable assets under one name creates a compelling opportunity for brands to connect with listeners at scale – through our digital and broadcast network platforms or locally, through our owned sports stations – wherever and whenever they tune into Audacy content.”

Spotify Profit Ink Turns Black

Spotify came up short on user growth, but swung to a profit in the first quarter, delivering a mixed earnings report as it works to achieve consistent profitability this year.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company's stock rallied over 8% in premarket trading after the results were out, having fallen 1.3% on Monday.

After years of rapid subscriber growth and efforts to expand beyond music streaming into broader audio offerings including podcasts and audiobooks, the company has been focused on controlling costs and prioritizing profitability.

Spotify reported a €197 million profit, or 97 euro cents a share, from a prior-year loss of €225 million, or €1.16 a share. Analysts had expected 62 euro cents a share, according to FactSet.

Monthly active users grew 19% to 615 million, 3 million shy of Spotify’s guidance, amid moderated marketing activity.

Some other key highlights from Spotify’s earnings:

  • Premium subscribers—the company’s most lucrative type of customer—rose 14% to 239 million, in line with guidance.
  • Average revenue per user for the subscription business climbed 5% to €4.55, helped by recent price increases. The metric has been pressured as Spotify brings in new subscribers via discounted plans and lower prices in emerging markets.
  • Ad-supported revenue ticked up 18% to €389 million, the equivalent of around $414 million, with podcast ad revenue growing faster than music.
  • Overall revenue increased 20% to €3.64 billion, in line with guidance.

4/23 WAKE-UP CALL: Trump Trial Features Competing Narratives

The prosecution and defense offered competing narratives of the events surrounding the 2016 election as Donald Trump’s hush-money trial got underway.

Manhattan prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told jurors that the former president and his co-conspirators orchestrated a criminal scheme to sway the 2016 election by buying the stories of people who had bad things to say about Trump’s behavior, including porn star Stormy Daniels’ allegations of an affair, in order to silence them. The former president’s lawyer countered that prosecutors couldn’t prove their case because they couldn’t show the former president had criminal intent and there is nothing wrong with trying to influence voters. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for allegedly covering up a payment to Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty and denied the sexual encounter.

➤EVEN TRUMP FOE THINKS TRIAL IS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED: Michael Avenatti, the one-time "most dangerous enemy" of Donald Trump who liberals hoped would bring down his presidency, thinks the hush money case against him in New York is flawed, politically motivated and part of a wider anti-democratic effort to take 2024 out of the voters' hands.

And to prove his point, consider the source, Avenatti told Fox News Digital in a phone interview from federal prison. "I certainly see him as a victim of the system," he said. "And that's something that I never thought I would say. So if Michael Avenatti is coming to his defense, and I was one of his staunchest opponents for a very significant period of time, that should tell people something."

➤DEMONSTRATIONS GROW: As tensions over the Israel-Hamas war boil on campuses across the country, Columbia University on Monday moved classes online. Dozens of students were arrested in protests at Yale, and school officials closed Harvard Yard to the public. What's going on? Demonstrations at Yale and Harvard were planned in part out of solidarity with protesters at Columbia who set up an encampment last week that led to the arrest of more than 100 students. The protests have raised concerns for the safety of Jewish students and fueled a national debate over student demonstrations as campuses grapple with growing unrest over the war.

➤COLUMBIA COURSES GO ONLINE: Columbia canceled in-person classes amid pro-Palestinian protests. University president Minouche Shafik said the school would move classes online for the day in an effort to “de-escalate the rancor and give us all a chance to consider next steps.” Pro-Palestinian protesters have congregated on the New York City campus since Thursday, when police arrested more than 100. 

Protests, arrests and security concerns have popped up in recent days at other high-profile universities. At Yale, police arrested more than 47 student protesters following a week-long demonstration on and around the school’s campus plaza. At Harvard, metal gates closed off access to Harvard Yard, the heart of the Cambridge, Mass., campus. The Yard is closed to the public through Friday, the school said on its website.

➤TOP ISRAELI SPY RESIGNS: Israel’s military spy chief resigned Monday, becoming the first senior official to step down over intelligence failures that enabled the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7 that sparked the war in Gaza. The resignation of Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, the head of the military’s intelligence directorate and a 38-year veteran of the military, illustrates the growing sense among many Israelis that the country’s leaders need to be held accountable for the security and intelligence failures that led to the war and the chaotic aftermath of the invasion of Gaza. Israel has battered Hamas’s forces, and much of the Gaza Strip is now in rubble, but many of the group’s leaders have held on to power and dozens of hostages taken on Oct. 7 remain in the group’s captivity. Israeli observers had expected senior military officials to remain in their posts while Israel fought the war and that a reckoning would come afterward. Thousands of protesters, however, in recent weeks have called on the government to resign as frustrations boiled over.

L-A Radio: Oldies Win For KRTH

 by Richard Wagoner, Southern California Radio Waves

The March Nielsen ratings were released last week, and oldies were the big winner with KRTH (101.1 FM) taking first place in the Los Angeles area, beating out KOST (103.5 FM)  with a rating of 6.0 versus KOST’s 5.6.

Immediately following was KFI (640 AM) — the top-rated talker in town as well as the highest-rated local AM station — with a third-place finish overall and a solid 5.5 rating. Rounding out the top five was “My FM” KBIG (104.3 FM) at 4.5, and a fifth-place tie between Spanish hits station KLVE (107.5 FM) and semi-Urban KTWV (94.7 FM) at 4.2.

In what may be the biggest surprise of the quarter, KROQ (106.7 FM) made a huge comeback after languishing for much of the past few years, and in the month of March overtook Alt 98.7 FM (KYSR) for the top-rated alternative music station in town. It was still close, but KROQ came in at 12th place with a rating of 3.0, compared with Alt’s 14th place 2.5. Of note is the fact that the format itself finally showed some real growth — overall, Alt is down a little, but not as much as KROQ’s increase. Combined, the stations have a higher share of the ratings than in recent history.

S-F Radio: Sports KGMZ Scores Win Men 25-54

In the tight ratings battle among Sports stations during the Winter book, KGMZ 95.7 The Game slipped by KNBR 104.5 FM / 680 AM. Here are the key highlights:

95.7 The Game:

  • Finished sixth in weekday prime (M-F, 6a-7p) with a 4.8 share among Men 25-54.
  • Improved by 0.5 share compared to the fall book but experienced a 0.2 share decrease year-over-year.
  • In the full week (M-SU, 6a-12a), The Game secured eighth place with a 4.1 share among Men 25-54.
  • The morning show, Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky, ranked fifth with a 5.5 share from 6a-10a PT.
  • Middays with Matt Steinmetz and Daryle ‘Guru’ Johnson claimed third place with a 5.6 share.
  • Afternoon drive with Mark Willard and Dan Dibley experienced a decline compared to the fall but remained competitive.


  • Registered a 3.2 rating for the full week (M-SU, 6a-Midnight).
  • The Game’s competitor, 95.7 The Game, finished the spring book with a 2.5 share, down from a 4.3 in the winter.

FBN's Charles Payne to Debut New Podcast Season

FOX Business Network’s (FBN) Charles Payne will launch the fourth season of his Unstoppable Prosperity Podcast on FOX News Audio debuting today. The three-episode season will lead up to and preview the Unbreakable Investor: Quiz Show Edition, a new special airing on his FBN program Making Money on Wednesday, April 24th at 2 PM/ET.

The podcast season will feature three 30-minute episodes from the personal experiences that made Payne the successful investor he is today and roundtable discussions on the future of the business world.

The special on FBN will feature an interactive audience quiz testing their financial knowledge and the best ways to find overlooked stock opportunities. It will also feature an interview with astrologer Susan Miller on the parallels that can be seen between astrology and investing emotions. Viewers can register for free tickets to the show here.

R.I.P.: Bob Heil, Innovative Recording Engineer

Bob Heil (1941-2024)

Bob Heil, the pioneering audio engineer whose innovations shaped the sound of classic rock bands like The Who and The Grateful Dead, passed away on February 28, 2024, at the age of 83. His contributions to the music industry were profound, and his legacy lives on.

Career Highlights:

Heil Sound: In 1966, Bob Heil founded Heil Sound, a company that revolutionized touring sound systems. His unique designs powered performances for iconic bands such as The Grateful Dead and The Who.

Heil Talk Box: In 1973, Heil invented the Heil Talk Box, a device used by musicians like Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, and Richie Sambora. This distinctive effect allowed artists to shape their vocals using a plastic tube connected to a speaker.

Amateur Radio Innovator: Beyond rock music, Heil was an innovator in amateur radio. His microphones and satellite dishes enhanced broadcasting and live sound engineering.

Home Theaters: In the late 1980s, Heil Sound ventured into home theater systems, becoming one of the first American companies to create and install them.

Awards and Recognition: Heil received multiple awards and honors. In 2007, he was invited to exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bob Heil’s impact on the world of sound engineering remains indelible.

R.I.P.: Tony Mercurio, Longtime VA Sports Talker

Mercurio (1949-2024)
Tony Mercurio never lacked confidence or minded courting controversy, and he ruled local sports radio with “The Tony Mercurio Show” five days a week for nearly three decades.

“What I say is my honest opinion,” Mercurio once told The Pilot. “I’m sports entertainment, like wrestling. You can’t be vanilla and agree with every caller and kiss their rear ends. I’m never going to do it.”

Mercurio, the “Blastman,” who raved and ranted — mostly ranted — on WGH-AM and then WVSP ESPN Radio 94.1 FM and championed Old Dominion University women’s basketball as the team’s longtime announcer, died over the weekend. He was 75, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

A friend posted on Mercurio’s Facebook page that he died Saturday afternoon. Mercurio had battled multiple illnesses and ailments, including diabetes.

Mercurio was the lead broadcaster for baseball’s Tides during multiple stints over a 35-year period and for ODU women’s basketball for 22 years, and he founded the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame.

“For so many people in the region, Tony is the voice they associate with sports,” said Mike Holtzclaw, a former reporter and editor with the Daily Press and the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame’s historian. “He had that great big personality on the air. Every day he wanted to push people’s buttons, whether they liked what he was saying or hated it. He wanted to provoke a response, and he usually did.”

R.I.P.: Amy Lee Garza, KBTE Lubbock Radio Personality

Amy Lee Garza (1980-2024)

A woman killed in a motorcycle crash on the West Side of San Antonio over the weekend has been identified as a well-known radio host from Lubbock. 

Authorities identified the woman as 44-year-old Amy Lee Garza, also known as the host of "Amy-O" on KBTE 104.9 The Beat, a hip-hop and R&B radio station in Lubbock.

Garza was killed around 2 a.m. Saturday after a motorcycle she was riding was sideswiped by a truck.  

A preliminary police report says Garza and another man were on the motorcycle without a helmet. She was ejected from the motorcycle and died after experiencing severe head trauma, police said. 

The man was taken to University Hospital with a broken leg. Police said the driver of the truck left the scene before police arrived. 

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Amy. It is rare to find a person as passionate as she was to her career and community. I had the opportunity to work with Amy for the last 14 years and she was the face and energy behind 104.9 The Beat. It is impossible to replace what she brought to our organization and to the people of Lubbock," said Jay Richardson, senior vice president of Alpha Media Lubbock, in a statement.

Radio History: April 23

Roy Orbison 1936-1988

➦In 1936...singer Roy Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas. His biggest hit was “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which stayed at No. 1 for three weeks in 1964. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and died of a heart attack on Dec. 6, 1988, in Madison, Tenn., at age 52.

➦In 1976...Flashback...

➦In 1995...Radio, TV sportscaster and personality Howard Cosell died of a heart embolism at age 77 (Born Howard William Cohen  March 25, 1918). He was most prominent and influential on radio, television and print media from the early 1960s into the mid 1980s.