Cumulus Furloughs, Pay Cuts Begin


In a videotaped message to employees Tuesday Cumulus CEO Mary Berner implemented a salary-slashing plan for the company that she said “was not easy but necessary.” She called it a COVID-19 people plan and said it was temporary. Here are the details that will be rolled out into Cumulus markets in the coming days.

Over 80% – the vast majority – of Cumulus’ salaried employees will be taking 3 individual weeks of furlough. That’s unpaid leave where they cannot do any work. Those three weeks will be taken in one week installments over a 15-week period beginning April 20th.

Two additional groups will be affected as well. First is a number of people in positions which can’t be covered by others during their absence. People Cumulus depends on for financial controls or those who don’t have someone above them or in their department who can cover for them. The people in this group will be asked to take a 90 day pay cut effective April 16th while they remain in their jobs and work them for those 90 days.

The second group of people are employees whose job functions or responsibilities have been greatly reduced or eliminated entirely as a result of the COVID 19 impact. These employees will be put on a straight 90 day furlough effective April 16.

Other changes, that were not specified in the video, will be implemented on non salaried commissioned salespeople.

Berner did not say how many Cumulus employees will be put out on a 90-day furlough. She did say the company has “every intention” of bringing them back when normal business operations resume. “Even Though these are intended to be temporary actions, I know they are going to land hard, really hard and that is in the emotional and financial toll that a furlough or salary cut will take on each of you, but also in terms of the increased workload the vast majority of you will have to take on during your co-workers furlough weeks. I am truly sorry and sad about this announcement. None of you deserves this.”


  1. Hate to hear about layoffs for my radio brothers and sisters, but it sure is good to see CMLS failing… Crash and Burn.

  2. “Furlough” was the PR replacement term for “laid off” to take the pressure off and make people have some hope. It buys time for companies to restructure. Soon, the “Mary’s” of the world will announce their plans and “furlough” will become “fired”.

    • Let me clarify my statement. I should have said, “the “Berner’s” of the world…”, meaning the corporate CEO’s who generally run behind PR firms to cover their butts during this type of change, because when I wrote this, it didn’t click with me at the time that my boss, who is also named “Mary”, and who is busting her ass, along with her husband, Dave, to make sure this doesn’t happen to us, might be inferred to be one of those “Mary’s”. She’s not even close to being one of the “Berner’s” of the world. I have worked for multiple “Berner’s.” They don’t give a crap about their people on the front line teams. It’s about the numbers, job security, and their overly-generous separation packages, period.

  3. Hey people…I’m hearing of 25-75% revenue reductions in all markets. No one is immune at this point. However, just like 9/11 for a period of time, everything stops dead. No one knows what’s going to happen so they cover their bases by cancelling advertising – particularly in stay-at-home states (most now are). Berner’s job is protect the assets as best she can and keep the ship floating till skies clear and she knows what direction to head. She obviously values the people she’s furloughing because they are not out right terminations.

  4. In 2018 Mary made $7,000,000 including $2,000,000 in bonus’s. She probably makes more today, but if she stayed at that level for the past 2 years, then she will be reducing her salary to $$3,500,000. I wish her well and hope she can feed the family on $3.5 million dollars. Except the salary reduction only lasts for 90 days so perhaps she won’t have to ask for assistance or food stamps.

  5. it still amazes me when i read apologetic tripe from radio management or the tools that support them. radio has been owned and run by the worst of the worst since dereg. anyone who does not agree, is either in radio management or the tools that still work for them.

    radio died long ago. it just doesn’t admit it yet.

    • Radio didn’t die. It was intentionally killed by the execs of radio companies. There is still a yearning for good radio, but the destruction of local radio by big conglomerates was the death knell. Thank you politicians for approving EVERY merger of EVERY industry.

  6. Look…while it’s very easy to demonize the executive management, these are unprecedented times. You can argue that radio has been eating its tail for years, but nobody could have predicted this catastrophe, which had such an immediate and severe impact on revenue. I was running Jones Radio Networks Format business for 16 years and during 9/11, the resulting revenue impact forced us to ask employees to take pay cuts. I didn’t have one employee complain, because they knew we were in it together. Full disclosure…Cumulus eliminated MY position at Westwood One a year after they acquired us…so I felt a similar impact at the time. I still have friends there…and wish everyone the best.

  7. I am fascinated by the very first comment to radioink, from “Scott”. I. too, worked for many decades in Radio, and at least one of them for Cumulus. I have known, shall we say, one or two broadcast employees. Absolutely NOBODY not in management talks “true believer” propaganda like that.

    FYI, we learned just yesterday that another major broadcast group has put into place a very similar “furlough” program. Which leads me to believe that, competitors or not, probably all the major broadcast groups are getting their cues from some type of crisis consultant, which planned the rolling-out of the pay cuts and how the p.r. on the plan would be styled.

    I have no doubt that unless “Scott” wants to give his name and the group/cluster where he supposedly toils as an Average Employee, then “Scott” is part of this p.r. effort in the major trade pubs. The good news is, I sincerely doubt anyone is about to put her or his hand over their little (i)hearts and pledge allegiance to their corporate masters, as he is supposedly doing.

  8. Mary is taking what amounts to a 50% reduction in compensation. Nobody is asking anyone to work while not being paid. Furloughed employees can not work the weeks they are on Furlough. The small number of employees that will be furloughed for 90 days can not work on anything company related either. She’s said this is temporary. Again, no one is asking someone to work without pay. The whole country and world is being affected by this situation. You can’t expect companies to stick their head in the sand and act like nothing is going on; that’s unhealthy. We’re all in this together. I’m thankful that I work at Cumulus; and I’ve worked here for many years. I’ve met Mary and I believe her to be thoughtful, genuine, caring, and transparent. We’re going to make it.

    • Corporate radio has been the death of a wonderful industry…. I hope all the employees get hired by privately owned companies, and Cumulus and I-Heart crash and burn. Yes, I HATE corporate radio – Love my local ownership –

  9. She’s in a tough position, as are we all. All that any of us can do is, “ask”. Some who are asked, will respond out of a desire to keep a fading company from disappearing while others will decline the request and allow it to suffer the same fate as many of those who have been stricken by covid19 have done. Ugly times…but, at least, it’s better than the “sudden death” memos from other companies.

  10. I’m sure Mary will take full of advantage of this epidemic in hopes it will cover up her utter incompetence. Note to Cumulus: next time you hire a CEO, look for someone with experience in RADIO.

  11. You can’t ask someone to work for 1 day let alone 90 days without pay. I think first of all a bit immoral let alone I believe illegal. The United States did away with slavery in the 1800’s

    • There’s no mention of any cut for her….. typical.
      She thrived off the blood of failing readers digest, this is no different. Cumulus, dont hide behind this as a reason to liquidate your staff, you already had plans to do so following the iHeart cuts…. sneaky sneaky


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