Political Power: A Key to Radio’s 2022 Revenue


Where is the revenue heading for terrestrial radio? That question was the first to be answered by a Forecast 2022 panel moderated by noted media ecologist Jack Myers, of Media Village.

Yes, there are 22 states that have executed and authorized sports betting, with New York ready to go in 2022, making the category “enormous” for Radio, said Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray.

That said, retail and financial services, along with auto insurance, are categories that are growing at spot radio. Growth in CPG is also strong, in the 10%-15% range, Gray said.

The move to audio from television for CPG brands was particularly noteworthy for Gray and for Jen Soch, executive director of specialty channels for GroupM.

The comments came after Gray offered a review of how 2019 was compared to the prior year. In 2018 political dollars drove the radio industry revenues. A year later was “pretty good,” with respect to non-political growth trends.

Then, the pandemic came. “Radio probably got hit the hardest when the pandemic hit, and radio got hit hard, and fast,” he said. But, radio has been chipping back every quarter, Gray said.

The return to 2019 levels has been slower for radio than for television because of what Gray sees as a perception problem. Usage was down, marketers believed, as quarantines and work-from-home patterns persisted. The result: television viewing went up, and advertisers responded.

Now that audio usage is increasing, Gray believes 2021 will end up “somewhere around -11% and -12%” compared to 2019 spot levels.

How soon can we get back to 2019 in 2022? “Radio is not done coming back – and probably can be up 5%-6% ex political in 2022,” Gray said.

Every year political is growing, and Soch is predicting “a bigger year than anyone has ever seen before,” with $8 billion-$10 billion expected in 2022, bigger than the $7 million seen in 2018.