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Mary Berner Rallies Cumulus Staff

Cumulus Mary Berner Lew Dickey John DickeyIs there a chance for sunshine to peek through the dark clouds that have been hovering over Cumulus Media?

New CEO Mary Berner began her first day on the job today with a conference call for all employees to discuss her plans to turn around the struggling company. In discussing the topic with a few Cumulus employees from different levels in the company most came away feeling enthusiastic about the new direction for the company following the departures of Lew & John Dickey.

Emphasizing that “Programming is the oxygen of Cumulus“, Berner was quick to note many of the flaws of the previous management team during her half hour speech. Among the points that Berner mentioned:

  • The current culture of Cumulus sucks
  • The company is grossly underperforming the remainder of the industry
  • 48% of Cumulus’ employees have turned over in the past 18 months and the company has much work to do in that regard.
  • The top down approach of management has failed and local markets need more authority
  • Too much distractions on ancillary things and not on programming
  • “This is a turnaround”
  • All employees will be held accountable for performance
  • Cumulus is committed to the NASH brand
  • “Do your job and do it well”, but that they will need to get through short-term pain to get the long term success.

No major corporate or further staffing announcements were made such as the rumored shift of corporate headquarters from Atlanta to New York or filing for bankruptcy to alleviate Cumulus’ debt.

INSTANT INSIGHT: What Berner said must be followed up by strong actions. Addressing that too much control was coming from the top down is a needed first step. But now going out and recruiting talent that is capable of making decisions on the local level after turning over nearly half of its workforce will show whether it is just talk.

Cumulus under Lew Dickey had become a sum of many parts. All too often there was a new project that took precedence whether it be Nash, Rdio, Westwood One, Sweetjack, CBS Sports Radio, or recently Classic Hip-Hop. Little time was spent on how to fully integrate all those concepts into the existing Cumulus operations or how to improve them. If it didn’t work out of the gate, it was on to the next concept leaving most of those in a half-assed state. That culture shift that Berner acknowledged existing will go a long way into making Cumulus a profitable company with a long term viability.

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Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

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