The Death Of Command And Control in Atlanta


Back in November of 2015 Radio Ink interviewed Cumulus Chairman of The Board Jeff Marcus. In that interview we could see the handwriting on the wall for what was announced by new CEO Mary Berner Tuesday. Before Berner was hired to replace Lew Dickey, Marcus went out to visit Cumulus stations all across the country. He went alone to see for himself how the business was being run and what was going on at the station level. Marcus told Radio Ink the problems he found were consistent across all the markets.

Marcus said Cumulus was loaded with talented people that weren’t being allowed to do their jobs. “We had a command-and-control system in Atlanta that was designed to rein people in and to make their lanes so narrow that they didn’t really have an opportunity to operate. I will give you an example. I was in one of our largest markets, speaking to the market manager, who is a successful veteran of the radio business, and I asked him about programming. He expressed a concern to me that one of his program directors was having trouble getting permission to play some songs that he thought were appropriate for the market. He had made the request to Atlanta, and Atlanta was sitting on the request.”

Marcus says that is not a good situation. “I was just so surprised, because we have these talented people that we hire into the company, and we vet them very carefully to make sure they have the right experience. And then we make sure that they have the right acumen and they know how to do their jobs. Then we put them out in the markets, and we don’t let them do their jobs. And that makes no sense at all. I saw this throughout the markets. It was a consistent theme. The command-and-control system in Atlanta was getting in the way of doing business. It had become more of a burden than a benefit.”

Yesterday Berner made a point that the Command and Control way of programming was not the way she wanted the company to operate. “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.”

Read our cover story from November 2015 with Jeff Marcus HERE


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