Entercom, the parent of Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Media, says its investment in podcasting has helped soften the blow of a downturn in the overall advertising market as marketers have continued to spend on podcasts. Digital revenue at the company increased 41% during the first quarter, which it said was propelled by strong audience and revenue growth in podcasting and digital audio advertising.

Overall, the story for Entercom was much different as its revenue overall declined 4% to $297 million as advertisers pulled back from spending on its radio properties, which still contribute about nine of every ten dollars the company bills. During a conference call with analysts Thursday, CEO David Field said revenue had been up 7% in February, but a 22% downturn in March erased that gain. “The abrupt shutdown of so much of the American economy has been unprecedented and it’s had a very significant impact on local advertisers in particular,” he explained.

Entercom didn’t release podcast-specific revenue figures, but Field said they saw “strong” gains during the first quarter for the business. The company had earlier projected that Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Media would have roughly $50 million in combined revenue during 2020. Entercom did announce that it now averages 28 million monthly unique podcast listeners worldwide and more than 150 million podcast downloads per month.

“We focus on premium, high-quality content offerings and have distinguished ourselves with the large number of high-quality hits in our portfolio,” Field said. “We have high expectations for our podcasting business and believe it will be an important driver of future growth, generating significant symbiotic benefits to drive listenership and revenues across our various audio platforms.”

Executives declined to offer any insight into how business is pacing during the current quarter, but they say things aren’t as dire as a month ago. “Current conditions have thawed a bit,” Field told analysts. “April certainly appears to be the bottom – furthermore, the tone and tenor of our advertiser conversations has improved.”

Investors liked what they heard. Entercom shares were trading up more than 26% in New York following release of its quarterly update.

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