Erica Farber, former publisher-CEO of Radio & Records, has been named president and chief executive officer of the Radio Advertising Bureau, effective April 16. Farber, who most recently served as the RAB's executive vice president, will replace current CEO Jeff Haley, who will depart after five years to pursue a new opportunity to be announced in the coming days.
Farber's hire was announced by Scott Herman, chairman of the RAB board and CBS Radio's executive VP-operations, who said in a statement, "Erica is an excellent selection with the relevant skills and expertise to lead the RAB. She brings an impressive track record in radio sales and management. In addition, Erica has a clear understanding of the organization and what the broadcast industry requires from the RAB. She has demonstrated a strong capacity of working with multiple constituencies which is critical to the RAB role."
Farber will lead the RAB at a time of transition and recovery for the broadcast medium, which reported its second year of consecutive revenue growth in 2011 after years of declines. Full-year revenue for the industry finished at $17.4 billion, up 1% from 2010, with double-digit growth in digital (+15%) and significant lifts in off-air (7%) and network ad spending (3%). The top five categories for the year, in terms of share of spend, were automotive (26%), communications (19%), restaurants (19%), TV and cable (19%) and financial services (17%.)
Although digital represents a relatively small portion of the overall revenue pie, accounting for $709 million in spending, it is also the largest area of new business for the industry as companies like Clear Channel and CBS Radio grow their share of listeners and ad dollars through streaming services like I Heart Radio and Last.Fm. The most popular streaming-radio service, Pandora, does not report its figures to the RAB, but nevertheless reported $240 million in advertising revenues in for fiscal year ended January 31, 2011
"It's certainly possible," Farber told Billboard.biz of working with companies like Pandora on membership opportunities. "I think digital is still a very large growth area for radio, and there are going to be other companies in the space. There's Pandora and Spotify and a lot of other companies we haven't even heard of yet that are gonna happen. And I think we just need to keep our eyes and ears open and understand how people are consuming our products and what they're turning to for information and be able to make those judgments."
Farber held a number of positions during her 15 years at Radio & Records, including chief operating officer, publisher and CEO, before the publication folded in 2009. [Radio & Records was Billboard's sister radio publication between 2006 - 2009.] She joined the RAB in late 2011 after founding a radio consulting firm, The Farber Connection, in 2010. Prior to her career with Radio & Records, Farber served as executive VP-radio development director with radio rep-firm Interep Companies.
"I'm honored to take on this responsibility and lead the Radio Advertising Bureau," Farber said in a statment. " In my short time at the organization, the passion and commitment has been exhilarating. I'm excited to build on the momentum set by Jeff and work with the Board and industry at large to advocate for this great medium."