With the Q4 and 2020 financial results for iHeartMedia released following the Closing Bell on February 25, the nation’s largest audio media content creator and distributor revealed that it was implementing a new operational structure.
This saw its financials reported in two separate segments – digital audio and multiplatform, which includes all radio stations. It also saw a veteran iHeart radio programming talent shift away from the company’s broadcast side and take on a COO role for the unit comprised of iHeart’s podcasting and digital properties.
At year’s end, a new COO will be needed for The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group — Darren Davis is stepping down, concluding nearly 30 years at iHeart and its predecessors.
In an internal note shared with iHeartMedia staff and provided to the trade publication it owns, Inside Radio, before other radio industry news organizations, the company noted that Davis, “a longtime and valued member of iHeart senior management,” has decided to step down from his role, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
“Anyone who knows Darren knows he has a deep love for iHeart and a true passion for our business and our success,” iHeartMedia says.
Davis will be continuing with iHeart as an outside advisor following his formal departure as a full-time employee in January.
Officially, Davis, according to iHeart, “is looking forward to spending more time on a variety of other projects he’s passionate about.” They include real estate development, local community projects, and traveling with his family.
“Although his day-to-day operating expertise will be missed, we appreciate all he’s done for our company and are very pleased that he will continue his association with us, albeit on a more limited basis.”
Davis was named COO concurrent to the naming of Conal Byrne as CEO of The iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. In addition to the podcasting and digital properties, the group includes digital advertising technology companies Jelli, RadioJar, Unified, Voxnest, and Triton Digital, recently acquired from The E.W. Scripps Co.
Carter Brokaw serves as the President of Digital Revenue for the division; Jessica Jerrick holds the role of EVP/Digital Distribution and Platform Partnerships.
The iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group, which includes the company’s AMs and FMs, is led by CEO Greg Ashlock, Chief Revenue Officer Tim Castelli and Hartley Adkins, President of the Markets Group.
FROM ‘WASH’ TO SHINE
Davis first broke into the radio industry in Washington, D.C., some 29 years ago, at Adult Contemporary WASH-FM 97.1 under then-owner Outlet Communications. It was a volatile time for Radio in the Nation’s Capital. Emmis had sold Top 40 WAVA-FM to Salem, leaving a format void. Alternative WHFS-FM and Hot AC WRQX-FM “Mix 107.3,” both defunct, were leaders. For WASH, thanks in part to Davis’s early efforts as a programming intern, longevity and listener loyalty would provide dividends that make the station a survivor, still attracting large audiences today.
Davis rose to PD at age 23, staying at WASH through its acquisition by AMFM Inc. in 1997 and, in 1999, its transfer of control to iHeart predecessor Clear Channel. He later served as a Regional VP/Programming for iHeartMedia Detroit and Chicago; and as SVP/Programming and EVP/GM of National Programming.
In July 2014, Davis was appointed President of iHeartRadio, then a part of Clear Channel Networks Group. Among his accomplishments in that role: building and managing the Premium Choice national network for iHeartRadio and developing iHeartMedia’s strategic national programming capabilities.
Three years later, iHeart announced that Davis would sign a four-year contract extension. That agreement saw Davis continue to oversee the iHeartRadio Network, Premiere Networks, Total Traffic + Weather Network, and the NBC News Radio Network, as well as iHeartMedia’s in-house audio and visual creative agency.
The extension came following the January 2017 launch, which Davis led, of the subscription-based on demand ‘iHeartRadio Plus’ and ‘iHeartRadio All Access’ services powered by Napster.
As such, Davis’ contract is expiring. Rather than ink a new deal, he’s moving on while assisting in various ways as an outside consultant with deep inside knowledge of the nation’s biggest audio media company.