Jeff Warshaw - Erica Farber

Looking back on what they called a challenging year across the media ecosystem, RAB President and CEO Erica Farber and Board Chair Jeff Warshaw looked ahead to 2024 in a video message to members that accompanies the RAB’s 2023 Annual Report.

Warshaw foresees “continued stronger performance for local business.” The trade association’s board chair, whose day job is CEO of Connoisseur Media, urged broadcasters to focus on the things they can control, like radio, digital, events and solutions that clients are asking for. “Hopefully, as the year picks up, we'll get a little help from national and maybe political and perhaps that will put more pressure on our inventory,” he said.

Warshaw said the “struggle” the industry faced during the past 12 months has rallied RAB members to work closer together. “It’s instilled in everyone the belief that we need to work together better. And we need to kind of stop fighting with each other as much and realize that there's much more money to be made by having a unified voice for what radio and audio can do for our clients and how important it is to our listeners.” Warshaw made the case that radio’s message “resonates much more clearly and louder to the advertisers” when the industry speaks with a unified voice.

The RAB’s 2023 Annual Report is the final one with Farber at the helm of the organization. Warshaw said RAB members owe her “a tremendous debt of gratitude” for navigating the trade group “through some really difficult waters” during the past 12 years. Incoming President & CEO Mike Hulvey, the CEO of Neuhoff Media, checks all the boxes, Warshaw said; a passion for radio, an understanding of local media, and an understanding of the potential the RAB has to help the industry.

Asked by Farber what radio can do to “super serve our communities,” Warshaw said at Connoisseur it involves having a large staff with lots of salespeople and local talent, and the ability to do local events. “We find that being able to offer a variety of advertising vehicles, promotional vehicles and marketing people to our clients is really what gives us our kind of our raison d'etre,” he said. “When we have people that are excited and trained and they're selling great products, we find that we have a huge advantage over any other media.”

Warshaw cited a recent survey of local ad buyers conducted by Borrell Associates that found local advertisers and marketers like to buy their digital from radio sellers that are trusted and knowledgeable. “As we go down the road, there continues to be this tremendous variety of different media and different competitors,” Warshaw said. “The ability to sell highly profitable radio, along with all these other solutions, is a unique opportunity and presents a competitive advantage.”

The RAB ended 2023 with 5,478 station members, 941 affiliate members, 30 new members and a total membership count of 6,449. Member dues accounted for 82% of its net income. While Farber is handing over the top position to Hulvey in the spring, she plans to continue to be involved in the RAB’s National Radio Talent System and its Rising Through The Ranks program.