Happy New Year!
As we begin this first full week of 2015, I am writing to share my annual thoughts on the company and our future.
I am pleased to report that 2014 was a year of significant growth, innovation and improvement at Entercom and I am truly excited about the year ahead. We made a number of big moves that have significantly enhanced our opportunities for 2015 and beyond. And we continued to make big investments in talented new people, new technology and new resources to enhance our capabilities and quality. As a result, we are now better positioned to serve our listeners and our customers than ever before. And we have no intention of letting up in 2015 as we continue to focus on delivering the best content to our listeners and being the best marketing solutions partner for our customers.
Just a few weeks ago, we announced our acquisition of Lincoln Financial Media (LFM) and their 15 radio stations in Atlanta, Denver, Miami and San Diego. LFM enables us to enter three terrific new markets and add a number of outstanding, leading brands to our lineup. The LFM stations will benefit from being part of a focused, pure play radio company and we will all benefit from the addition of these great markets, top brands, and talented individuals. We are excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to welcome the LFM team to Entercom.
In 2014, we also continued to increase our investment in great talent and brands. We launched Q102 in San Francisco and The Wolf in Memphis and added terrific new personalities on a number of our stations across the country. And we relaunched The End in Seattle with the industry’s first Two Minute Promise, establishing a new listener experience for this trendsetting brand while offering advertisers a new model for reaching the station’s millennial audience. And just last week, we announced that we will be splitting up our powerhouse KMBZ AM/FM simulcast in Kansas City to create the new Talk 980 on AM, while making KMBZ FM all live and local from 5a-9p.
2014 was also the year we launched SmartReach Digital (SRD), our local digital marketing solutions company. SmartReach is the perfect complement to our radio stations, enabling us to serve our customers with the best lineup of radio, digital and experiential products. SRD has made dramatic progress since its launch and is now in 13 of our markets with hundreds of clients and a staff of over 70 people. SRD has already won two industry awards, including being named one of the top five SEO agencies in the nation. SRD is primed for dramatic revenue growth in 2015 and beyond and will enhance our customer building efforts across the country.
And we were able to make all of these investments while continuing to build one of the industry’s strongest balance sheets. Entercom has a strong and stable financial position and the capacity to continue to make smart investments to accelerate our growth and enhance our organization in the future.
Wall Street has taken notice of all of our developments and progress. Our stock is now trading at over $12 per share, our highest level in four years. Whether or not you are a stockholder of the company, you should be pleased at this highly positive indicator on Entercom and our future prospects.
2014 was also a great year for radio. Broadcast radio listenership grew to an all-time record 243 million Americans each week. And radio is the #1 medium in the US between 5AM and 5PM daily, surpassing television, internet and all others. And Nielsen released the most important study on radio’s effectiveness in history The results are outstanding: radio advertising drives an average of $6 in sales lift for every $1 in radio ad spend – an ROI double that of even the best results from recent studies of digital or TV media. A similar study was recently released by the RAB in the UK which confirmed the outstanding effectiveness of radio advertising by showing comparable ROI performance.
In fact, in a world in which so many competitive media are suffering from fragmentation, declining audiences, DVR’s, etc., radio is far and away the least disrupted of all forms of advertising. And key advertising leaders are beginning to take notice. Andrew Robertson, the CEO of global ad agency BBDO was recently asked about radio advertising and said “There are still huge, huge radio audiences — and frankly, it is a massively underutilized medium.” The truth is that with all of the enormous challenges facing other forms of media, radio is the superior choice for any customer looking for enormous reach, local activation and strong engagement at an attractive price.
It is also gratifying to reflect on the enormous impact that our work has on the lives of the American public. What we do matters in so many ways. We are the #1 source for music discovery and offer compelling personalities, companionship, community connection, public service, relevant news, sports, talk, and so much more. Bono may have put it best this past September when he said simply, “In the end, Radio is Everything.”
And we were once again reminded of our extraordinary role as a community lifeline in November when the men and women of WBEN and Entercom Buffalo were at their finest, helping to save lives and enable their community to cope with their epic snowstorm.
And so we enter 2015 with great momentum and in our strongest position in years. A new acquisition, a new digital marketing company, an outstanding team enhanced by many highly talented newcomers, and a fantastic lineup of powerful brands. Add to that our financial strength, our highly competitive and innovative culture, our powerful capabilities and resources, a massive and growing industry listenership and a strong and improving economy, and we are well-positioned for an outstanding year.
The opportunities are great, but as always there will be plenty of competitors out there, fighting to block us from what we deserve. To succeed and achieve our potential, we will need to execute and compete at our very best. We have a hugely compelling story to tell, whether we are competing with other radio groups, television, or any other form of advertising. Telling our story boldly, compellingly and persistently will be essential to our success.
On a final note, I would like to thank each and every one of you for all you do to make Entercom such a special company. I look forward to a wonderfully successfully and rewarding 2015 and wish you and your families a year of great health, happiness, achievement and fulfillment.
All the Best,