NAPLES — Radio ads for presidential candidates are bombarding voters in battleground states, such as Florida and Nevada.
Those ads helped drive up revenues for Naples-based radio operator Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. in the third quarter. The company's net revenue rose 3.1 percent to more than $24.7 million, up from nearly $24 million a year ago.
Revenues increased by about $740,000 in the quarter. About $400,000 of that increase came from political advertising, with half of that coming from the Las Vegas market, said Caroline Beasley, Beasley's executive vice president and chief financial officer.
"It's not in every market," she said Friday after a national conference call. "It just depends on whether there are contentious battles going on. So Vegas is a very big market for political dollars. We are seeing stations in Florida, in particular over in Miami, that have received decent political dollars as well."
Founded in 1961, Beasley Broadcast owns and operates more than 40 stations in 11 markets in the U.S., including Naples-Fort Myers.
The presidential campaigns and allied independent groups have spent some $20.8 million on radio ads so far.
Radio listeners in Florida have heard ads like this: "President Obama raised taxes on Florida's small businesses, and his defense cuts will weaken our military and put thousands more Florida families out of work. Mitt Romney has a better vision for America."
A recent radio ad for President Barack Obama in battleground states, including Florida, featured Ronnie Mosley, an urban studies major at historically black Morehouse College in Georgia, saying: "With Pell Grants, help on student loans and health care reform, President Obama has really given me a shot at the American dream."
With a boost from the political advertising, Beasley Broadcast saw a 10 percent increase in national advertising revenue in the third quarter, while local advertising revenue remained about flat, Beasley said. The company also saw increases in automobile, health and restaurant advertising, offsetting declines in other categories.
"It's market-driven," Beasley said after the conference call about improvements in advertising. "This market, Fort Myers/Naples, seems to be looking better, as is Las Vegas. And those two markets were brutally hit during the downturn. We are seeing upward trends in those markets."
While revenue rose in the quarter, the company reported a drop in its third-quarter profits, due to a $2.6 million charge-off related to the extinguishment of long-term debt.
The company's net income declined more than 50 percent to less than $1.2 million, or 5 cents a share, in the quarter, down from profits of about $2.3 million, or 10 cents a share a year ago. Profits would have risen without the debt adjustment.
Faced with high amortization payments that would have come due in 2014, the company decided to be proactive and get its debt refinanced, resulting in the one-time charge-off for its long-term debt, Beasley said.
The new financing will be more flexible and will give the company the option to pay dividends to shareholders again, she said.
It was a busy quarter for the company. Besides closing on the new financing, it completed its acquisition of KOAS-FM in Las Vegas for $4.5 million. The company has an option to purchase a fifth station in the market.
__ The Associated Press contributed to this story.