Cumulus Radio CEO to Turn Stations Around: Telling Them to “Grow a Pair”

Country Radio Seminar 2018

“I think the radio industry needs to grow a pair.” That was CUMULUS CEO MARY BERNER when asked for a wide-angle perspective on the medium during a one-on-one keynote address at COUNTRY RADIO SEMINAR (CRS). BERNER’s response to EMMIS/NEW YORK VP/Market Mgr. CHARLIE MORGAN, who conducted the Q&A, was actually an enthusiastic endorsement of radio, as she pointed out that “Radio does have strong ROI; it does have an audience; it has the goods. But we act like an ugly stepchild.” BERNER cited pricing as an example, which she described as “A race to the bottom.” The hour-long interview also touched on BERNER’s business background, which included no previous radio experience. But her strong publishing credentials with READER’s DIGEST and VOUGE magazines to name a couple, have served her well during her time at CUMULUS. BERNER described radio as “same church, different pew,” by comparison, and said an important lesson learned in print publishing was, “It begins and ends with the content.” Upon taking the CEO chair in 2015, BERNER described the company as experiencing “a free-fall,” which necessitated an immediate culture change. A corporate jet was sold within two weeks, the profits of which helped fund company raises, which — as she found out from numerous station visits — had not been granted for years. The now-famous company survey sent soon after her arrival at CUMULUS revealed a consistent keyword in responses, said BERNER: “Toxic culture.” After consulting with the executive team to determine what kind of company CUMULUS wanted to be, BERNER said the answer was, “Everything we needed to be was the opposite of where we were.” The company focus became twofold, said BERNER; “What we put on the air, and our employees.” Programming decisions and authority were restored to station level, with the caveat that accountability went with that. Asked how her non-radio programming background may have helped things, BERNER said, I told MIKE [MCVAY], If I ever give you advice, ignore it.” BERNER once again expressed commitment to, and faith in, the Country format at CUMULUS, praising the NASH brand, which she feels is better executed now; the NASH NEXT talent contest, “which helps us give back to the industry.” The recent restructuring of CUMULUS was brought up as well, something BERNER say will not affect day-to-day operations at all. “When I arrived, I knew the debt was untenable,” said BERNER. The decision to file Chapter 11 was voluntary. “We have plenty of cash,” she added. “We swapped debt for equity on our house.” Asked for a forecast of the next three to five years for both CUMULUS and the radio industry, BERNER said, “I’m not saying; I don’t think anybody knows.”

Zac Brown To Receive CRS 2017 Artist Humanitarian Award

Zac Brown Band on Country Music News Blog

Zac Brown To Receive CRS 2017 Artist Humanitarian Award; Peter Smyth To Receive Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award To be presented Feb. 22 during CRS 2017 (Nashville, Tenn. – Jan 5, 2016) – The Country Radio Broadcasters have announced Zac Brown as the recipient of the CRS 2017 Artist Humanitarian Award and former Chairman and CEO of Greater Media, Peter Smyth, as the recipient of the CRS 2017 Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award, to be presented during Country Radio Seminar 2017; following the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, February 22nd, 3:30-4:00 p.m. The CRB Artist Humanitarian Award was created in 1990 by the organization’s board to honor those Country music artists who have exhibited exceptional humanitarian efforts during their career. Past recipients of the annual award have included Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Randy Owen, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Reba, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels, among others. Zac Brown is a strong supporter of multiple philanthropic causes including his own Camp Southern Ground which was inspired by his experiences as a camp counselor. The program at the Georgia-based state-of-the-art facility is an inclusive camp that combines children with neuro-developmental disorders with mainstream children. Its mission is to provide extraordinary experiences for these children to recognize and magnify the unique gifts within themselves and others in order to profoundly impact the world. Additional organizations that Brown is committed to include GRAMMYS on The Hill, GRAMMY U, MusiCares, Robin Hood Foundation and The USO. Three-time GRAMMY winner and multi-platinum artist Zac Brown, of Zac Brown Band, is one of music’s most heralded acts. The latest platinum-certified album ‘JEKYLL + HYDE’ (Southern Ground Artists/John Varvatos Records/Big Machine Label Group/Republic Records) marks the band’s fourth consecutive No.1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart. Zac Brown Band has earned a historic series of fifteen No.1 hit radio singles and is only the second band to top both the country and active rock formats. The Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award is given at the discretion of the Country Radio Broadcasters Board of Directors to recognize an individual in the Country Radio industry who has displayed a magnanimous spirit of caring and generosity in service to their community. This award is named in honor of CRB Board member Tom Rivers, who died in 2004 at age 38 of bronchial asthma. Rivers, known for his work at WQYK, Tampa/St. Petersburg and WUSN, Chicago, was highly regarded for his public service. An active philanthropist, Smyth currently serves on the Board of Directors of New England Baptist Hospital and the One Hundred Club of Massachusetts, an organization dedicated to enhancing the welfare and safety of the families of public safety officers and firefighters. Additionally, he is an Advisory Board member of the Home Base Program of Boston, which provides clinical care, education, research and support services for military veterans and their families throughout New England. Smyth is a past member of the Board of Trustees of Emerson College and is a Continue reading

CMchat Ryman Google Hangout Country Music Showcase

CMchat Hosts the 1st Ever Live and Interactive Country Music Showcase at the Ryman via Google+! As part of the annual Country Radio Seminar 2013, CMchat has teamed up with the historic Ryman Auditorium to host a special and unprecedented LIVE and interactive interview series! Via Google + hangouts CMchat’s Jessica Northey will be hosting the country music artist showcase straight from the Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, February 27th, and she’ll be checking in with some really amazing folks like Jerrod Niemann, JT Hodges, Sunny Sweeney, Rose Falcon, Tyler Farr and many more! CMNB‘s MissMolly will be joining in from Fayetteville, AR as part of the twangout panel, and fans can get involved by submitting questions through Google +, Twitter, and Facebook! The live video will stream right here, and you can find complete details below! CMchat LIVE Country Music Artist Showcase from the Ryman Auditorium. About CMchat. CMchat is the largest country music centric social media community, and its growing! Follow #CMchat on Twitter to stay up to speed on all things country, and tune in to Google+ every Monday night for special exclusive interviews with country stars, industry folks, and more!

Taylor Swift to Host 2010 CRS

Taylor Swift has been announced as the host and headliner for 2010’s Country Radio Seminar and Music City Jam “I can’t think of a bigger star to host the Music City Jam at CRS-41 than Taylor Swift,” said CRB Executive Director Ed Salamon. “We’re thrilled to have her headline next year’s event and continue the tradition of superstar talent that has performed in years past.” “Taylor is an amazing talent, and we are thrilled to have her at the Music City Jam in 2010,” said Bob Romeo, Executive Director of the Academy of Country Music. “I can’t wait to see what she surprises everyone with. She always has a trick up her performance sleeve.” Country Music Photo Gallery