CRS Keynote: Cumulus Media CEO Mary Berner Speaks

President and CEO of Cumulus Media Inc Mary Berner speaks onstage during day 2 of CRS 2018 on February 6, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CRS)

Cumulus Media president and CEO Mary Berner served as a keynote speaker for this year’s Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. Berner shared her long-term vision for Cumulus Media, as well as her take on the state of the radio industry. Berner has served as president and Chief Executive Officer of Cumulus Media Inc., the country’s second largest radio company, since October 2015. 

Berner commented on the fact that the CRS keynote address marks her first time attending CRS. “That makes me sound like some Howard Hughes recluse, but in reality I wanted to spend 100 percent of the time fixing the company.”

Part of that time has been spent focusing on placing programming decisions back in the hands of local radio program directors. “That’s the only way to attract the best and brightest,” Berner stated. “If you’re the best, you don’t want people telling you what to do all day.”

She also commented on Cumulus’ current bankruptcy proceedings. In November, it was announced that Cumulus had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with $2.4 billion in debt. “It has no effect on our day-to-day operations,” Berner said, adding that she expects the company to come out of bankruptcy in late March or early April.

She also took the time to hearten the radio executives in the room, saying, “Radio has the ROI and the audience… We undersell ourselves in many aspects, especially pricing. This industry has the goods.”

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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at jnicholson@musicrow.com.

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