Berner Builds Her Own Programming Team


    New Cumulus CEO Mary Berner is shaking up how programming decisions are made at the company. She says she is giving PDs more control over the day-to-day programming of their stations, “which has not been the case in the past.” The new structure will be built under Mike McVay and includes new hires with resumes from companies like Nielsen, iHeartMedia, CBS Radio, and Cipolla Analytics.

    In a press release sent out Tuesday, Berner said: “Who knows their markets better than the people who live and work there? We believe that the injection of more local insight and more effective corporate support into our programming decisions will drive improved ratings outcomes for our stations. Cumulus program directors will now report to market managers and will have control over the day-to-day programming of their stations, which has not been the case in the past.

    And here are the new hires and promotions:

    Ed Cohen PHOTO (2)Dr. Ed Cohen, Vice President, Ratings and Research
    Cohen joins Cumulus from Nielsen Audio, where he led Nielsen’s connected-car streaming audio research initiative as Vice President, Measurement Innovation. Cohen was previously Vice President, Measurement Innovation for Arbitron, following five years as Vice President, Research Policy and Communication and eight years as Vice President, Domestic Radio Research for Arbitron. Prior to that, Cohen was Vice President, Research for iHeart Media/Clear Channel, and held research positions for the National Association of Broadcasters and Birch/Scarborough Research. He holds a Ph.D. in Mass Media from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina.

    Doug Hamand PHOTO (2)Doug Hamand, Vice President, Programming Operations
    Hamand (right) joins Cumulus from iHeart Media, where he was Senior Vice President, Programming and served iHeart Media/Clear Channel in various senior programming posts, including Regional Vice President, Programming, Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL, for over 21 years.

    Cat ThomasCat Thomas, Vice President, CHR and Hot AC
    Cat Thomas joins Cumulus following a 27-year career with CBS Radio, where he was Vice President, Programming for CBS Las Vegas’ six-station group. Thomas served as Program Director of 98.5 KLUC Las Vegas for 20 years, following seven years on-air and as Music Director at KLUC.

    Ralph Cipolla, Vice President, Analytics
    Cipolla (right) joins Cumulus from Cipolla Analytics, LLC, aRalph Cipolla performance analytics consultancy founded by Cipolla in 2013, following a decade as a multi-platform Strategy, Branding, Research and Talent Consultant at Jacobs Media and jacapps Mobile, where he worked with stations of all formats and market sizes across the U.S. and Canada. Prior to that, Cipolla was Operations Manager and Program Director for 15 years, serving stations in Detroit, Jacksonville, FL, and Buffalo, NY.

    Ken JohnsonKen Johnson, Vice President, Urban
    Johnson joins the Cumulus corporate programming support team from Cumulus station WUHT in Birmingham, AL, where he served as Operations Manager. He was also Program Director for the Touch Urban AC format for Westwood One. Johnson’s 20-year programming career includes 13 years as a programmer and consultant to Cumulus Media, and programming posts in Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, and Wilmington, NC. He has hosted morning shows in Washington, D.C. and Boston.


    1. Fred thats right. If they can get traction they have a huge platform to work from.
      I mean from a digital standpoint. 400-500 stations is a big footprint. Wish I had it.

    2. Saul!? Is that you!? (“Meowww!”)
      Maybe they can re-invigorate “Jimmy Fiddler in Hollywood” and snap the shows on the air from a desk-mounted Ampex 601. Might work.

      Meanwhile, here is an organization that was (allegedly) making fairly acceptable, quality widgets – some of them unique.
      But, when times got tough, they cut back on the folks who actually made the widgets.
      Tougher time mandated chintzing out on the materials used to make the widgets.
      Later, all widgets were of the same design while rumours of the lack of quality took hold.
      Managers were slammed into box cubicles and told to keep their voices – and their heads – down.
      Now managers have been given shiny new collars, longer leashes, and are being allowed to go to the water coolers – all by themselves.
      Funding for widget R&D is still, however, unavailable.
      Might not work.

    3. Now, what would really excite me is to read that Cumulus has also initiated a free overhaul/refurb service for anyone who’d like to revive their old reel-to-reel tape decks [Ampex, Otari, Scully, Revox, Studer, Magnecord, et. al.] — and also worked out a deal with the powers-that-be in Stockton who would let Cumulus hire Phil Spector as a consultant to Return To Mono. [Anyone wanna buy a mint-condition Editall splicing block?]

      That having been said … let me get back to my iWhatever & listen to something I want.

    4. I suspect that many Cumulus folks and some others in different radio organizations see these moves as components of a brave, new, programming world.
      Being aware of some local distinctions and a buck, ninety-five will buy a cup of coffee. It won’t improve the products and services.
      Until or unless on air and creative staffs are brought up to snuff, multiplied and their (newly acquired) skills exploited, very little of any significance is going to happen. Not at Cumulus or anywhere else.
      All that sincerity – wasted.
      Sorry to have to report: I’m thinkin’…. deck chairs.

    5. I must clarify…. WKKO Toledo, is number 2 and is still on the air. Fitting that it is number 2, as it sounds like number 2 recently. And I do not mean Neilson-wise.

    6. “Who knows their markets better than the people who live and work there?” Yep. The listeners do. But still continuing to ignore the listeners you are about to lose, because they are not king… does you no good at all. More salaries, less public input, more corporate controllers and egos. Wonderful plan for the listeners. I clearly see nobody benefiting, beyond Cum-U-Less and their 26 cent stocks. Just being honest, from a listener’s point of view. K100 lost ratings due to this in Toledo. The longest running continual number 1 station went bye bye, due to listeners being ignored by Atlanta.

    7. This is GREAT! I’ve said for years that these big corporations and their PD’s have no sense of regional taste. It shows in the worst way possible. Though this will further steep the corporations in the markets where their stations are, it is going to hurt the ‘little guys’ when the big boys become competitive for their local,niche audiences. Good move overall, bad move for the smaller stations trying to compete.


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