Cumulus Media replaces CEO after stock drop

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Changes Afoot at Cumulus?.

Its stock price plummeting, Cumulus Media, the second-largest radio broadcaster in the United States, announced on Tuesday that it would replace its chief executive.

“With Magazine 360, the industry was able to set aside its fiercely competitive culture to provide a transparent view of audience consumption across platforms, allowing MPA to confirm that magazine media is delivering double-digit audience growth year-over-year”. Berner has been named Chief Executive Officer of the company, with founder/CEO Lew Dickey moving to vice chairman and continuing as a director of the company. The move follows a tumultuous few months for Cumulus — which owns 460 stations in 90 U.S. markets, including Westwood One — in which the company has seen its stock fall 83.9 percent year to date — to $0.68, from $4.23. (It peaked at $8.09 in January 2014.) Other broadcast radio companies have also been battered this year — though not as much as Cumulus. Year-to-date, Emmis Communications shares are down 31.6 percent, Salem Media Group is down 23.4 percent and Entercom Communications has fallen 16.9 percent. Over the last four years, we have seen the transformation of our company with the acquisitions of Citadel and Westwood One as well as the creation of NASH.

Chairman Jeffrey Marcus, whose Crestview Partners controls 27 percent of Cumulus stock, cited Berner’s experience growing digital brands, including as CEO of Reader’s Digest Association where she built Allrecipes into a huge food website. Our national platform now reaches approximately 225 million people per week and is well-positioned to compete successfully in the rapidly evolving media industry. She headed up the MPA for three years and transitioned the group from reporting quarterly advertising pages, which were no longer painting a rosy picture of the industry, to tallying magazines’ reach across both print and digital, where many think the future of magazines lies.

Mary is a proven executive, with over 30 years of experience in media driving results in multi-platform advertising and content driven businesses. “Under Lew Dickey’s leadership,” he continued, “the Cumulus team has built a formidable national and local footprint, becoming the second largest operator of radio stations in the country, with more than 460 stations across 90 markets, approximately 8,500 broadcast radio affiliates and numerous digital channels serving over 225 million listeners nationwide. During the course of her highly successful career, she has led some of the world’s best known brands and content platforms, including: Glamour, TV Guide, W, Women’s Wear Daily, Every Day with Rachael Ray and Allrecipes.com. Jeffrey Marcus, Chairman of the Board of Cumulus Media, Inc. and a Partner at Crestview Partners, which manages funds that beneficially own approximately 27% of Cumulus’ outstanding stock, said, “We are delighted that Mary has agreed to serve as our new CEO. I am pleased with what the board has accomplished and have great confidence that MPA will continue to aggressively move its member organization’s agenda forward”. At a time when the media landscape continues to undergo seismic transformation, Cumulus needs a broad based media operator who can leverage its outstanding resources — from its core strength in radio to its growing presence in digital, experiential and other emerging platforms — and capitalize on the industry’s strong fundamentals.

Berner said, “I am honored to have been asked to lead Cumulus Media and am eager to work with the board and the company’s talented teams to implement Lew’s vision of building the next generation multi-platform media company. As the director who led the Operations Review Task Force established by the board, I have insight into the issues that Cumulus faces, but I also know the operational leverage that can be generated by first focusing on execution. In 2013, Cumulus introduced the first country station to the New York City market in 17 years, WNSH-FM, the first of a string of stations using the Nash name.

I have covered Cumulus mostly from the programming side (as opposed to the business side) over the past 14 years and from a very specific Atlanta angle. Radio is a powerful and unique medium — the number one mass reach medium in the U.S. — and Cumulus possesses all of the elements to be one of the industry’s winners. But Cumulus’s growth has resulted in a debt load of nearly $2.5 billion, and while its revenue has quickly grown since 2011 with the addition of hundreds of stations, its profitability has stagnated. Berner and said she had “demonstrated an ability to turn around a company’s performance and build value for shareholders.” Perhaps hinting at cost-cutting, he said that “maximizing the value” of its assets would require “making them work together effectively and efficiently.” One radio executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr.

Coincidentally, a radio convention is happening now in Atlanta sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Radio Advertising Bureau. There was speculation that the Dickeys might be in trouble because they typically sign on to be speakers or panelists at this convention and were nowhere on the agenda. Since helping to found Cumulus in 1997, Lewis Dickey has been a familiar face in the radio business, aggressively expanding the company and pushing into new areas like streaming music. Berner and her team led the company to unprecedented portfolio and financial growth – from 31 magazines and businesses in 1999 to more than 60 in 2006 – by growing profitability on core and “mature” properties, reorganizing underperforming but well-positioned businesses, creating sustainable line extensions of existing brands, and starting new businesses and magazines.

Cumulus is also the leading provider of country music and lifestyle content through its NASH brand, which serves country fans nationwide through radio programming, NASH Country Weekly magazine, concerts, licensed products and television/video. For more information, visit www.cumulus.com To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cumulus-media-appoints-mary-g-berner-chief-executive-officer-300150974.html

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