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Radio briefs: Lew Dickey leaves Cumulus; WIGO wins a Stellar; Praise fundraiser; top Atlanta song

This was posted by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lew Dickey has stepped off the board of Atlanta-based Cumulus Media, the company he started nearly 20 years ago.

His reason: "to pursue other professional interests." His 18-month non-compete clause has expired since he lost his CEO and board chairman position. He still owns a large chunk of Cumulus shares.

But the Dickey presence on the board is not completely over. Former Cumulus VP John Dickey will take over the vice chairman spot.

Last fall, Lew Dickey wrote a book on the media business, “The New Modern Media,” published by Tourbillon International, a unit of Dickey-owned Modern Luxury Media.

Dickey founded Cumulus soon after radio deregulation two decades ago. He quickly scooped up small market radio stations and Cumulus became a major player in the radio business.

In 2011, Cumulus purchased Citadel which gave them more major market stations but also weighed the company down with too much debt. By last year, share prices dropped so far below $1 on Nasdaq that they had to do an 8-to-1 share swap to boost it above $1 again. Since then, the price has again fallen below $1 a share again and is now down to 32 cents. Nasdaq will boot the stock off if its exchange if it stays below $1 too long.

The market capitalization of Cumulus, which generates $1.2 billion in revenue a year, is a mere $9.5 million. The Fitz rating firm recently targeted Cumulus as a possible candidate for financial default this year.

Cumulus now owns more than 500 radio stations including local stations Q100, Rock 100.5, Kicks 101.5 and NewsRadio 106.7.

Mary Berner, who took over for Dickey, has improved the work culture there, based on talks I've had with people who work in the Atlanta office. The company has said turnover has dropped sharply year over year.


Gospel station WIGO-AM/1570 this weekend won a gospel Stellar Award for best major market radio station, beating Praise 102.5 and stations in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Larry Young, who helped start Praise 16 years ago, has been running WIGO for 12 years. He said he worked hard to get listeners to vote for them and get them into the nomination process. He credits his station's personal touch and hometown vibe for its success on the AM dial.



Praise 102.5 raised $306,261 for St. Jude Children's Hospital earlier this month, its best ever result.

Celebrity support included recording artists Bishop Paul S. Morton, CeCe Winans, Charles Butler, Jr., Jackie Clark Chisholm, James Fortune, JJ Hairston, LeCrae, Tim Bowman, Jr. William McDowell; the cast of the stage play Married but Single Too—Bill Bellamy, Chante Moore, and Lisa Raye. Gary with the Tea, of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, also offered support on-air during the show and on social media.



Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" continue to be the most played song on Atlanta radio with 378 spins from the four pop stations Q100 (116), Power 96.1 (128), Star 94 (94) and B98.5 (40).

Rising quickly and soon to take over is Bruno Mars' latest confection "That's What I Like," rising 56 spins over the previous week to 322. The song is getting urban/pop crossover love, heard on eight stations in Atlanta: Power (124), Q100 (118) V-103 (38), Star 94 (29), Streetz (3), Hot (6), Kiss (3) and Majic (1). Oddly, B98.5 has yet to add it.

The market's top 10:

1- Ed Sheeran "Shape of You"

2- Bruno Mars "That's What I Like"

3- Zahn/Taylor Swift "I Don't Wanna Live Forever"

4- Rihanna "Love on the Brain"

5- Migos 'T-Shirt"

6- Alessia Cara "Scars to Your Beautiful"

7- The Weeknd "I Feel it Coming"

8- Gucci Mane "Both"

9- Chris Brown "Party"

10- 2 Chainz/Gucci Mane/X Quavo "Good Drank"

SOURCE: Mediabase 24/7

Fastest riser: Future "Mask Off"

Biggest dropper: Maroon 5 "Don't Wanna Know"


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.