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General Radio Audience Decreasing, but Urban Markets Stay Alive

General radio audience has been declining with the increase in the availability of music and other listening sources. However, urban markets seem to sway the statistics, due to the overwhelming increase in listening as years progress. Well over 90% of African American consumers aged 12 years and over listen to the radio each week-a higher penetration than television, magazines, newspapers, or the Internet.

The most popular radio format among Black listeners is Urban Adult Contemporary (UAC), with Urban Contemporary following in a close 2nd. UAC controls nearly 28% of all African-American radio listening-more than 7% above any other format. Its reach increased more than 6% between Spring '07 and Fall '08 to nearly 12 million consumers each week across 306 stations, and all dayparts registered higher shares over that time span. Urban Contemporary programming boasts an audience of more than 10 million African-Americans each week, exemplified by artists such as Beyonce, T.I., Keyshia Cole, and Lil Wayne. Heard on over 258 stations, this format attracts 20.7% of all Black listening. It represents a young audience, attracting 36% of all teen and 18-24 listening by African-Americans. The top rated outlets for UAC and UC listening are in Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Miami, among many others. Over 70% of Africans live in the top 60 market areas, and 50% live in the top 20.

Radio One, Inc, with its emphasis on urban markets, is one of the nation's largest radio broadcasting companies. It owns and/or operates 52 radio stations located in 17 urban markets in the United States. Additionally, it owns Magazine One, Inc., interests in TV One, LLC, a cable/satellite network programming primarily to African-Americans, and Reach Media, Inc, owner of the Tom Joyner Morning Show. As seen with the numbers above, radio broadcasting primarily targeting African-Americans has significant growth potential. Radio One's strategy is to expand within existing markets and into new markets that have a significant urban presence. Furthermore, they believe they have a competitive advantage in the African-American market and the radio industry in general, due to a primary focus on urban formats, skill in programming and marketing these formats, and their turnaround expertise.

Cumulus Media, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is the second largest radio broadcast company in the United States based on station count. In total, the company currently controls approximately 350 radio stations in 68 U.S. media markets. It stations consist of a wide array of music, including country, rock, gospel, and urban. Revenue was up 1.8% to $56.4 million, which one could argue the significant contribution by urban growth. In April, Cumulus struck a deal with investors including New York private equity shop Crestview Partners to pump $500 million in equity into a private partnership to go after acquisitions. With capital markets financing, the deal could be leveraged to more than $1 billion. Cumulus should focus its new assets into the growing urban market, because while general radio audience has decreased, urban markets stay alive.

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