Berner named CEO at Cumulus Media
Mary Berner will leave the magazine media association MPA as her three year term ends
NEW YORK, NY – September 29, 2015 – The one-year anniversary of the launch of The Magazine Media 360° Brand Audience Report demonstrates that magazine media is a healthy and vital source of news, information and entertainment for today’s consumers with 9.7% year-over-year total audience growth. Since introducing the new metric one year ago today, the industry has been on a steady course to demonstrate that consumer demand remains high for magazine media content across platforms.
As part of this milestone, the MPA Board of Directors announced today that President and Chief Executive Officer Mary G. Berner will be leaving MPA as part of a planned transition. Ms. Berner will become chief executive officer of Cumulus Media Inc., effective Tuesday, October 13. Ms. Berner will remain an ex officio member of the MPA Board of Directors. Nancy Telliho, senior vice president, marketing and digital initiatives at MPA will serve as interim CEO while the MPA Executive Committee searches for a successor. Ms. Telliho has more than 30 years of magazine media experience in marketing, advertising and general management, including 20 years with the Washington Post Company.
“Mary worked closely with the board on the industry’s vision for propelling the magazine media industry forward,” said Steve Lacy, chairman, MPA Board of Directors, and chairman and chief executive officer, Meredith Corporation. “In her role as president and CEO of MPA, Mary and the board marshalled the resources of an entire industry to transform how it is perceived during a time of massive disruption brought about by the digital explosion. She leaves us having strongly positioned MPA to continue to execute our long-term plan.”
Mr. Lacy added, “Her success serves as a model for other industries, and Cumulus is lucky to have Mary apply her talents within the radio sector.”
“I am proud of the work that we have achieved over the past three years,” said Ms. Berner. “With Magazine Media 360°, the industry was able to set aside its fiercely competitive culture to provide a transparent view of audience consumption across platforms, allowing MPA to confirm that magazine media is delivering double-digit audience growth year-over-year. I am pleased with what the board has accomplished and have great confidence that MPA will continue to aggressively move its member organization’s agenda forward.”
Here is the announcement from the other side, Cumulus Media’s appointment of Mary Berner:
ATLANTA, Georgia – September 29, 2015 — The board of directors of Cumulus Media Inc. today announced that Mary G. Berner has been named Chief Executive Officer of the company, effective October 13, 2015. Ms. Berner, a seasoned media business operator, joined the Cumulus board this past May. She will succeed Lew Dickey, the company’s founder and CEO, who has decided to serve as Vice Chairman and continue as a director of the company.
Ms. Berner most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, the industry association for magazine media companies. From 2007-2011, she was Chief Executive Officer of Reader’s Digest Association and, before that, Chief Executive Officer of Fairchild Publications. During the course of her highly successful career, she has led some of the world’s best known brands and content platforms, including: Glamour, TV Guide, W, Women’s Wear Daily, Every Day with Rachael Ray and Allrecipes.com.
Jeffrey Marcus, Chairman of the Board of Cumulus Media, Inc. and a Partner at Crestview Partners, which manages funds that beneficially own approximately 27% of Cumulus’ outstanding stock, said, “We are delighted that Mary has agreed to serve as our new CEO. 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.”
“Under Lew Dickey’s leadership, the Cumulus team has built a formidable national and local footprint, becoming the second largest operator of radio stations in the country, with more than 460 stations across 90 markets, approximately 8,500 broadcast radio affiliates and numerous digital channels serving over 225 million listeners nationwide. However, maximizing the value of these assets requires making them work together effectively and efficiently. At a time when the media landscape continues to undergo seismic transformation, Cumulus needs a broad based media operator who can leverage its outstanding resources – from its core strength in radio to its growing presence in digital, experiential and other emerging platforms – and capitalize on the industry’s strong fundamentals. The board has had the benefit of seeing Mary in action and is fully confident that she is the right leader for Cumulus,” Mr. Marcus added.
Ms. Berner said, “I am honored to have been asked to lead Cumulus Media and am eager to work with the board and the company’s talented teams to implement Lew’s vision of building the next generation multi-platform media company. As the director who led the Operations Review Task Force established by the board, I have insight into the issues that Cumulus faces, but I also know the operational leverage that can be generated by first focusing on execution. Radio is a powerful and unique medium – the number one mass reach medium in the U.S. – and Cumulus possesses all of the elements to be one of the industry’s winners. I look forward to bringing a renewed focus on operating excellence at all levels and in all functions to help Cumulus realize its potential and generate improved financial performance and increased value for shareholders.”
Lew Dickey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cumulus said, “When I founded Cumulus in 1997, my goal was to create the nationwide platform we have today, with 460 stations in 90 cities, the industry’s most important network, and unique original content, such as NASH. After serving the company day-to-day for almost 19 years, and the last 16 as CEO, now is right time for me to transition from CEO to Vice Chairman. I look forward to working with my fellow board members to support our new CEO.”
Brief Bio about Mary G. Berner
Ms. Berner, 56, is among the most highly accomplished executives in the media industry. Over more than three decades, she has established a track record of successfully leading media companies to drive financial performance and growth. In recognition of her work, Ms. Berner was named one of the Top Women in Media by Folio magazine in 2014.
Prior to becoming Chief Executive of MPA in 2012, Ms. Berner served as Chief Executive Officer of Reader’s Digest Association and a member of the board from 2007 to 2011, where she developed and executed a successful turnaround strategy, oversaw the restructuring of the company’s acquisition-related debt (after which she and her team presided over the doubling of the company’s stock price) and optimized its brands and assets including through the development of new digital revenue streams. Under her direction, the $2 billion global media and direct marketing company launched 83 websites and 31 mobile apps, and built Allrecipes into the world’s largest food website.
From November 1999 until January 2006, she led Fairchild Publications, Inc., first as President and Chief Executive Officer and then as President of Fairchild and as an officer of Conde Nast, when Fairchild became a division of Conde Nast Publications, Inc. Ms. Berner and her team led the company to unprecedented portfolio and financial growth – from 31 magazines and businesses in 1999 to more than 60 in 2006 – by growing profitability on core and “mature” properties, reorganizing underperforming but well-positioned businesses, creating sustainable line extensions of existing brands, and starting new businesses and magazines. In recognition of her outstanding performance, leadership and innovative excellence, Advertising Age named Ms. Berner “Publishing Executive of the Year” in 2004.