RBR First: Major shakeup at WW1: Beusse has left the building


First reported by RBR on late afternoon Saturday, there are some major changes taking place at Westwood One (N:WON). CEO Tom Beusse was escorted from the office Friday evening, 10/17/08. According to knowledgeable insiders who spoke with RBR, one of WW1’s finance executives, likely CFO Rod Sherwood, will become the new CEO.

The changes do not stop in the corner office. WW1 has also brought in Jones MediaAmerica SVP/COO Cathy Csukas and former Jones President Gary Shoenfeld as co-DOS’s. They parted ways with Dial-Global after the acquisition of Jones MediaAmerica. WW1 fired EVP/Sales Paul Gregrey weeks ago.

What RBR has heard from sources was someone "…woke up at Gores and figured out that radio is content, too." This, after the mantra of "We’re in the content business" that Buesse was espousing. Gores is WW1’s major investor right now, recently putting $100 million into the company.

P.S. Rod Sherwood is from Gores.

Like many companies in the industry, the radio network has been battling the troubled economy even before Wall Street began. It experienced a 9.6% revenue loss Q2 and since then has been under notification from NYSE for failure to maintain minimum listing requirements. It recently announced a major plan to overhaul its traffic reporting operation, eliminating a large number of market offices in favor of a hub and spoke approach.

RBR/TVBR observation: Gary Shoenfeld and Ron Hartenbaum, before they created MediaAmerica, both worked for WW1. One irony is Gary Shoenfeld and Cathy Csukas haven’t been on the sales side for about five years. So this should be interesting. They will also likely bring in Susan Love, who was also dismissed by Dial-Global after the Jones MediaAmerica buy. Now the rest of the Rodale people — people from outside the radio biz that Beusse brought in — Steve Chessari and Andy Hersom — will likely stay. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time — advertisers are in the midst of the radio upfront (see RBR’s Network Radio Upfront discussion on Friday). The concern is about the future plans of WW1.

RBR/TVBR note: Our financial analysis visit the report Short and turbulent run for Beusse at WW1 

Publisher note: RBR was first to break this story on Saturday because, borrowing the phrase from CSI: Miami, ‘We Never Close’. I find it interesting to see others use our headline and rework our content of ‘Left the Building’. You got it First and Factual from RBR.