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Radio Is Hot in 4th Quarter

Radio ad sales rose 13% in October vs. October 2001, according to Radio Advertising Bureau data. National advertising was up 23%, and local sales were up 10%.

October was the second straight month that radio produced double-digit sales gains and the eighth consecutive month of year-to-year increases. The organization bases its sales estimates on data collected by Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co., and other accounting firms that gather sales figures from the top-100 markets.

For the first 10 months of the year, radio revenues are up 5% over the same period a year ago. National sales are up 10%, and local is up 4%.

Wall Street was slightly surprised. Several firms last week raised their fourth-quarter and full-year revenue estimates for the radio industry, albeit slightly.

Merrill Lynch said it was raising its 2002 revenue -growth projection to 5.9% from 5.7%, or close to $18.9 billion. The fourth quarter will grow 11%, Merrill Lynch said. Until last week, the firm was projecting 10% growth.

In his report, Merrill Lynch broadcast analyst Marc Nabi said his estimates for November and December remain unchanged at 9% and 10%, respectively, because of the short Christmas season.

He also said that, for now, his revenue forecast for 2003 remains at approximately $19.9 billion, up 5.2%. But that could grow.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey revised its full-year revenue-growth estimate by a tenth of a percentage point, to 5.7%. SunTrust's Jonathan Jacoby said the firm's 2003 growth projection remains 4.5%.