As reported via a ‘Breaking News’ email sent to subscribers earlier today, during an Investor Day presentation this afternoon (3/15) CBS Chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves confirmed plans to sell or spinoff its radio assets. Contacted by NTS MediaOnline Today for comment, a spokesperson for CBS Radio confirmed that Moonves did tell investors the company “will begin to officially explore strategic options for Radio as a whole” and added, “CBS Radio is a terrific organization, with a tremendous history and a great future. It makes sense that CBS Corporation, a company that is now focused primarily on premium video content, would choose to unlock the value of its radio operation. While it is still very early in this process, we are enthusiastic about the possibilities that lie ahead, and look forward to competing in this evolving industry with the strongest portfolio of major-market brands in the radio business. Going forward, we will do everything we can to assist in this transformative action and believe it will be to the benefit of our division, our stations and our people.”
After more than a decade in national syndication, Salem Radio Network talk host Bill Bennett (left) will step down from hosting his daily Bill Bennett’s Morning in America program as of Monday, April 4th. Bennett isn’t totally leaving the network, however, and will maintain his presence in the morning by shifting to Senior Correspondent, producing a daily Making America Work series in which he’ll interview some of America’s most successful business owners and entrepreneurs. That series will also become a one-hour weekend special available to SRN affiliates. Simultaneously, SRN has announced that Hugh Hewitt (right) will move from his current weekday 6-9pm (ET) time slot to replace Bennett in wake-ups (6-9am). A successor to Hewitt’s nighttime hours is expected to be named shortly. “Keeping Bill in the Salem family, doing what he loves to do, was very important to us and we have found the perfect opportunity,” said Salem Senior Vice President Phil Boyce. “Bill will be a huge contributor to the morning show going forward, and has already lined up some amazing interviews that will continue his legacy.” SRN notes that Bill Bennett is “the only talk show host in America to be confirmed twice by congress as a cabinet member, first as Education Secretary and then as Drug Czar in President Ronald Reagan administration.”
As NTS MediaOnline Today subscribers first learned via our “Breaking News” email earlier today, the Board of Directors of Cumulus Media have announced that Mary G. Berner has been named Chief Executive Officer of the company, effective October 13, 2015. Berner (pictured), joined the Cumulus board this past May. She will succeed Lew Dickey, the company’s founder and soon-to-be-former CEO, who will move to a new role as Vice Chairman and continue as a Director of the company. Berner most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Association of Magazine Media. From 2007-2011, she was Chief Executive Officer of Reader’s Digest Association and, before that, Chief Executive Officer of Fairchild Publications. “We are delighted that Mary has agreed to serve as our new CEO,” said Cumulus Media Board Chairman Jeffrey Marcus. “Mary is a proven executive, with over 30 years of experience in media, driving results in multi-platform advertising and content driven businesses. Not only has she successfully built and transformed some of the best-known consumer and b2b media brands and companies in the world, she has demonstrated an ability to turn around a company’s performance and build value for shareholders.” While major changes at Cumulus Media have been rumored for months, today’s announcement comes just as much of the radio industry is descending on the company’s hometown of Atlanta this week for the annual NAB/RAB Radio Show, where the executive shuffle is sure to be a hot topic of talk in the halls and bars of the Marriott Marquis. Read the official company announcement HERE.
CBS Radio names company veteran Scott Herman as Chief Operating Officer. Most recently EVP/Operations, in his new role as COO Herman will continue to report to recently named CBS Radio President Andre Fernandez, and oversee operations at the broadcaster’s 117 major market stations. As a result of the move, the company’s radio Market Managers will now report directly to Herman. “I’m thrilled to be taking on this expanded role at a time of incredible opportunity for CBS Radio,” said Herman, who has spent a good portion of his nearly 40-year broadcast radio career at CBS. “We have an outstanding portfolio of local market assets, and I look forward to working with station management in the evolution of their brands.” In Related News: An internal company memo reports that CBS Radio/Philadelphia SVP/Market Manager Marc Rayfield will succeed Herman as CBS Radio’s New York Market Manager. The memo, which reports that Rayfield’s replacement in Philly will be named “in the near future,” also notes that Michael Weiss has stepped down as President of Sales for the company to pursue other opportunities. As a result, CBS Radio/Baltimore Market Manager Bob Phillips will add additional corporate responsibilities as SVP/Director of Sales for the company, while continuing to manage CBS’ Charm City cluster.
(UPDATED NEW INFO AND VIDEO): As NTS MediaOnline Today readers first learned in our ‘Breaking News’ email earlier today, nationally syndicated Talk radio host and TheBlaze founder and television personality Glenn Beck has confirmed that his doctors have diagnosed him with severe vocal cord strain caused by overuse. In a pre-recorded announcement, Beck’s voice was clearly strained and scratchy as he told listeners and viewers that doctors have ordered him to refrain from speaking for any prolonged time for the next few weeks — meaning he’ll be away from his daily Premiere Networks radio microphone and his nightly TV show for about a month while undergoing voice recovery therapy under strict medical supervision. Expectations are that Glenn will return to his radio and television programs on Monday, August 3rd, as a full recovery is anticipated. Meanwhile, show regulars Pat and Stu — along with a variety of special guests — will fill-in for Beck on both his radio and TV shows while he’s gone. Plans for Beck’s already announced speaking and listener event in Birmingham, AL on August 28th and a subsequent tour are continuing.
Watch video of Glenn Beck’s announcement HERE.
Longtime WTOP/Washington News Director Mike McMearty is promoted to Director of News and Programming for DC’s top-rated news station. McMearty has been at WTOP for 23 years, where he’s served as an editor, producer, reporter, anchor, sports reporter, Assistant News Director and — for the past 15 years –as News Director. He succeeds former PD Laurie Cantillo who left the Hubbard Radio-owned all-newser last March to join NASA’s Office of Communications. “Mike has been an integral part of our success for more than two decades,” said SVP/GM Joel Oxley. “He has led the newsroom to hundreds of industry awards for excellence in journalism, including 18 National Murrow Awards and more than two dozen honors already in 2015. I look forward to him taking the department to new heights.”
Cumulus Media promotes current WMAL/Washington, DC Program Director Bill Hess (left) to Corporate Program Director for News/Talk. Hess, who assumes company-wide News/Talk programming duties previously handled by Randall Bloomquist (who exited that post last January), will also continue as PD of WMAL. Hess’ 38-year radio career includes prior programming stints at Sports/Talker WTEM/Washington, and News/Talkers WHJJ/Providence and WHYN/Springfield, MA. He’s also served as a Brand Manager for Clear Channel Radio and held the title of Senior Vice President/Programming for NYC-based Air America Radio. Commenting on Bill’s new expanded duties with the company, Cumulus SVP Content and Programming Mike McVay said, “This promotion enables us to take advantage of Bill’s previous experience as a corporate programmer and rewards him for the amazing job that he’s doing at WMAL.”
As NTS MediaOnline Today subscribers first learned earlier today via our ‘Breaking News’ email, veteran News/Talk programmer Ken Charles has been tapped to be the new Program Director at KNX/Los Angeles. He assumes a chair that has been vacant since Andy Ludlum exited the CBS Radio all-newser last September. The move marks a return to the left coast for Charles, who recently spent a couple of years in the Golden State’s capitol city as VP/Programming for iHeartMedia/Sacramento. The 30+ year News and Talk radio pro most recently served as iHeartMedia’s National Format Brand Manager for News/Talk/Sports, based in south Florida. His considerable programming resume also includes executive stints at WIOD-WINZ/Miami, KTRH-KPPC/Houston, WGST/Atlanta and WSYR-WHEN/Syracuse. “You’d be hard-pressed to find a programmer with as much experience and success in the news format as Ken,” said Dan Kearney, SVP/Market Manager, CBS Radio/Los Angeles. “He is one of the most respected managers of news operations in the country and during this seminal, fast-changing period of how people get their news, he is uniquely qualified to build upon KNX’s reputation as Southern California’s news, traffic and information authority.” Commenting on his pending move to Tinsletown Charles said, “I can’t wait to begin working for CBS Radio, a company committed to local news, and the team of award-winning professionals at KNX — L.A.’s heritage home for local news and traffic. I’m thankful to Chris Oliviero, Scott Herman, Dan Kearney and Kevin Weatherly for giving me this incredible opportunity.” Charles will officially start his new gig on July 6th.
As we first reported to you late yesterday (4/23) in a ‘Breaking News’ email, former longtime KGO-KSFO/San Francisco Program Director Jack Swanson — who left those stations in 2011 after more than 17 years as PD — has been appointed Director of News and Programming for CBS Radio’s Bay Area all-newser 740AM and 106.9FM KCBS/San Francisco. Beginning Monday, Swanson (left) takes the helm from Ed Cavagnaro, who previously announced his retirement after nearly four decades at KCBS. Commenting on his new programming and news chief, CBS Radio/San Francisco VP/Market Manager Doug Harvill said, “Jack has a distinguished track record of leading iconic radio stations. He’s a terrific leader with a deep understanding of how a market leading station such as KCBS can be a trusted and active member of its community.” Harvill’s announcement that the station had hired Swanson — widely acclaimed as one of the smartest and most influential News and Talk programmers of the past couple of decades, with a wall full of trophies and honors to support that sentiment — came as somewhat of a surprise to industry watchers, as the News and Talk media veteran seemed pretty content in his self-chosen semi-retirement. “This is definitely the only job in radio and the only company in radio that could lure me off the beach,” Swanson told NTS MediaOnline Today. “Being asked to lead one of the best news teams in the country is one of those rare situations that do not present themselves often. I am a very fortunate guy.” Email your congrats to Jack on his return to radio HERE.
In a memo to staffers this morning, CBS Radio President/CEO Dan Mason (left) announced he is retiring. “After an unforgettable eight years leading CBS Radio, I am announcing today my retirement at the end of April,” wrote Mason. “Witnessing all that we’ve accomplished and knowing the bright future ahead for our company has not made this an easy decision. It has been an honor and privilege to serve as President and CEO and I want to express my gratitude to all of you.” Mason went on to say that despite his well-known love and passion for the radio biz, it’s time for a “pivot” in his life to spend more time leisure traveling and doing other “retirement type” things. “Broadcasting will always be part of my life,” he continued. “I am happy to continue with CBS Radio on a consulting basis and I will also be doing more work for the Broadcaster’s Foundation, a cause that I believe so much in. Finally, this fall I will be doing play-by-play for select college basketball games, a passion I followed early in my career. I guess you never get rid of the disc jockey blood you’re born with!” Mason also thanked CBS Corp. President/CEO Leslie Moonves for his support over the years saying, “Most people are lucky enough to have one great run at the helm of an organization — I’ve had two. My thanks to Leslie Moonves who has been so supportive of every new road we traveled down since this extraordinary second time around began for me in 2007. His desire for great content has been an inspiration for all of us and will no doubt continue to be the foundation of the company.”