Changing_Its_Tune__Radio_Searches_For_Listeners

Changing_Its_Tune__Radio_Searches_For_Listeners - Changing...

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Changing Its Tune  By RICHARD SIKLOS Published: September 15, 2006 © 2006 The New York Times, Inc. The radio industry keeps losing people like Danny C. Costa, a senior at Boston University who grew up listening to radio in New York and New Jersey. For the last few years, Mr. Costa has tuned out radio in favor of Web sites where he can get access to downloads or videos he heard about from friends. He prefers these to the drumbeat of the Top 40. He burns his favorite songs onto CD’s or copies them onto his iPod . “I just sort of stopped listening to radio, because I had access to all this music online,” Mr. Costa said. While more than 9 out of 10 Americans still listen to traditional radio each week, they are listening less. And the industry is having to confront many challenges like those that have enticed Mr. Costa, including streaming audio, podcasting, iPods and Howard Stern on satellite radio.
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As a result, the prospects of radio companies have dimmed significantly since the late 1990’s, when broadcast barons were tripping over themselves to buy more stations. Radio revenue growth has stagnated and the number of listeners is dropping. The amount of time people tune into radio over the course of a week has fallen by 14 percent over the last decade, according to Arbitron ratings. Over the last three years, the stocks of the five largest publicly traded radio companies are down between 30 percent and 60 percent as investors wonder when the industry will bottom out. Now, radio’s woes have spurred a new wave of deal making. Clear Channel Communications , the nation’s largest radio operator, is now considering selling some of its 1,200 stations in smaller markets after years of acquiring everything in sight, according to industry analysts. The Corporation">CBS Corporation did the same thing recently and now says it is looking at further station sales. The Walt Disney Company struck a deal this summer to get out of the radio business altogether, and in May, Susquehanna Broadcasting, the nation’s largest privately held radio group, was sold to another broadcaster.
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