Atsinger Hands Salem CEO Role To Santrella


Gordon Smith isn’t the only radio industry leader saying farewell to his longtime role come January 1, 2022.

The current CEO of Salem Media Group is stepping aside and will transition to the newly created role of Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Who will succeed Ed Atsinger III as Salem’s Chief Executive Officer? Look no further than its President of Broadcast Media.

With Atsinger’s transition, Salem’s Board of Directors has appointed David Santrella to become Chief Executive Officer.

There’s more shifting in the Salem C-Suite: David Evans, Salem’s President of Digital Media and Publishing, is being promoted position of Chief Operating Officer.

Meanwhile, the current Chairman of Salem’s Board of Directors, Stuart W. Epperson Sr., will resign and transition to the position of Chairman Emeritus on January 1.

As such, son Stuart W. Epperson Jr. will join the Board of Directors, filling the vacancy created by his father’s departure.

“These changes reflect the Board’s ongoing succession planning and are designed to provide leadership continuity as the company continues to execute its strategic initiatives,” the company says.

Since founding Salem in 1974, Atsinger, along with his brother-in-law, the elder Epperson, has grown the company from a single radio station into a multimedia company specializing in Christian and conservative spoken word content.

To be certain, Atsinger will continue to be engaged full-time and focus more of his attention on macro strategy and planning, M&A, external relationships, government affairs and leadership development. “This will allow the company to continue to benefit from Mr. Atsinger’s decades of experience and skills,” the company said on Monday afternoon.

“I am pleased to serve as Executive Chairman and to oversee the succession to the next generation of leadership of our company,” Atsinger said in prepared comments. “I am looking forward to working with the executive team to continue Salem’s vitally important mission of serving the media needs of the audiences interested in Christian content and public policy programming with a traditional conservative focus.”

Atsinger continued that, in his view, Salem is “well-positioned for continued growth into the future.” As such, he said, “now is the right time to take the next step in implementing our long-term leadership transition.”

He concluded, “Most of all, I am blessed to lead our talented and dedicated team. I am extremely proud of Salem’s employees and personalities who create and distribute the content that allows us to serve our loyal and dedicated audience of listeners, readers, and now viewers. It is this talented team that has allowed Salem to become the business it is today. Building and expanding this platform over nearly 50 years has been and will continue to be the focus of my life’s work.”

Commenting on his promotion, Santrella said, “I am deeply honored to have been appointed as Salem’s next CEO. I look forward to working in close partnership with David Evans to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that exist in today’s media landscape, to further the mission of our company and to grow our business. I am blessed that I will have Ed alongside me in my new role.”

Evans added, “I am looking forward to working together with Dave and the rest of our talented leadership team as we further combine traditional media and digital media in new transformative ways. We have a substantial and passionate audience that accesses our content and brands in many ways and we’re focused on ensuring they can enjoy it and engage with us across multiple platforms.”

The senior Epperson, who has served as Salem’s Chairman of the Board of Directors since going public, said, “Our Board of Directors has engaged in thoughtful long-term succession planning, and today’s announcement demonstrates the strength of that process as well as the depth of talent at the executive management level to drive the company’s continued growth and success. I am confident that David Santrella and David Evans are perfectly qualified to continue working with Edward and the rest of the management team to build on our success and drive Salem into the next phase of its growth.”