Cumulus Creates New Vice President, Programming Partnerships Position; Names Aaron Roberts to Post. One week into Mary Berner’s Cumulus Media CEO tenure, a new multi-media programming position is created and the company’s Aaron Roberts is elevated to the new post. The official title is vice president, programming partnerships for Cumulus Media, Westwood One and NASH. Roberts has been Atlanta-based national director, special projects for the company for the past three years. He will continue to work in Atlanta. SVP of content and programming Mike McVay states, “Aaron has performed beautifully in the difficult position of serving two masters. What he does impacts both art and commerce. He will work closely with both SVP, brand partnerships Tommy Page and me.” Roberts adds, “It’s an exciting time at Cumulus Media as we continue to develop first-in-class original on-air, digital and event content. I look forward to working closely with our tremendous partners and the entire partnerships team in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.”
ESPN to Cut Approximately 300 Staffers. Sports media giant ESPN is releasing statements confirming the reports that it will cut some 300 positions within the company over the next few days. ESPN chief John Skipper says in a memo to employees that the company carefully considered each job cut and that staffers will receive at least “60-days’ notice, a severance package reflective of their years of service, and outplacement benefits to help them find future employment.” Earlier, BloombergBusiness reported the rumored cuts and wrote that escalating programming costs and a drop in television viewers as two reasons for the 4% reduction in the workforce. It’s not clear how the cuts would affect the ESPN Audio division since changes to the slate of programs heard on ESPN Radio were finalized last month after the departure of Colin Cowherd for competitor FOX Sports. The Bloomberg piece notes that SNL Kagan reported that ESPN’s cable TV division has lost some 4 million subscribers over the past four years.
Nielsen Reports Q3 Revenue Up 5% on Constant Currency Basis. The third quarter of 2015 saw revenue of just over $1.5 billion for the global ratings giant. Nielsen reports revenue was down 2.6% due to the impact of foreign exchange, but up 5% on a constant currency basis, compared to the third quarter of 2014. Nielsen CEO Mitch Barns says in a press release, “Nielsen’s third quarter results exemplify our strong value-generating business model with revenue growth of 5%, consistent margin expansion across both our Watch and Buy businesses on a constant currency basis, and record quarterly free cash flow generation, up 19% over last year. Our growth was driven by many important competitive wins all over the world. Our Buy business, which grew 4.1%, had its fifth consecutive quarter of margin expansion, both on a constant currency basis. Our Watch segment grew 6.1% on a constant currency basis due to strength in Audience Measurement, as our clients embed our digital measurement and analytics into their day-to-day decision-making.” Barns also reports that it is closing in on completion of its goal of rating total audiences. “The initial release of Digital Content Ratings has gone smoothly and we’re pleased with the feedback we’ve received as it is the final piece of our Total Audience Measurement framework. We know how important the execution of our product roadmap and the subsequent industry adoption of our solutions are to our ability to drive value for our clients and we feel very confident about our progress here. As our products continue to gain traction, we’re having meaningful conversations with clients and major industry voices in order to move toward a new definition of the currency ratings.”
Mike McFeely Returns to WDAY, Fargo. Fargo talk show host and columnist Mike McFeely is returning to Forum Communications-owned news/talk WDAY after a six-year stint with crosstown competitor KFGO. The Forum reports McFeely’s return to the station and to Forum’s print division. He’ll host the 8:30 am to 11:00 am program and write a column for The Forum and inforum.com. McFeely says, “When I left The Forum in 2009, one of the quotes I gave a reporter was ‘I will always be an ink-stained wretch.’ I never lost that belief. I have had more people than you’d believe in the last six years tell me they miss my columns in the newspaper. I am excited to write for The Forum and its website again.” McFeely joined KFGO in 2009 to host the 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm daypart.
2016 Presidential Race, Hillary Clinton to Testify on Benghazi, Russia’s Military Policy in Syria, Release of the Film Truth, Israel Violence, GOP House Speaker Post, and MLB Playoffs Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (10/20). The activities of the candidates for president in 2016; Thursday’s scheduled testimony from former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the Benghazi attacks; the Russian military role in Syria’s civil war; the release of the film Truth, portraying CBS’ Dan Rather and Mary Mapes reporting on George W. Bush’s Texas National Guard service; the ongoing violence between Jews and Palestinians in Israel; the opening House Speaker position and the GOP’s process of filling the post; and the Major League Baseball playoffs were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.
A Walk Down Progressive Rock Radio Memory Lane. In the third part of their loosely recurring series of conversations about their early careers working together in New York progressive rock radio posted today (10/20), TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and WFAN, New York personality/best-selling author Richard Neer, continue their stream-of-consciousness reminiscences about the very early days of their careers working with the legends of progressive rock radio at the iconic WNEW-FM in the Big Apple. In the newest installment of the PodcastOne international hit, “Up Close and Far Out with Michael Harrison,” the lifelong friends talk about their first two years at the historic Metromedia station, circa 1971-1972, where they worked with Scott Muni, Alison Steele, Jonathan Schwartz, John Zacherle and Pete Fornatale among others after being catapulted to the “big time” after the successful launch of progressive rocker WLIR-FM on Long Island. To listen to the entire podcast, please click here or click on the “Up Close and Far Out” player box located in the right-hand column of every page at Talkers.com and RadioInfo.com. Harrison (left) and Neer (right) are pictured at right in the WNEW-FM studios in 1971.