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Citadel Communications CEO and Broadcasters Foundation Chairman Emeritus Phil Lombardo Dies

In lieu of flowers, Lombardo’s family has asked that donations be made to the newly created Phillip J. Lombardo Memorial Fund, established by the Broadcasters Foundation to honor the legendary executive’s work in the field.

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A photo of Phil Lombardo
(Photo: Citadel Communications)

Citadel Communications CEO and Chairman Emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation of America Phil Lombardo died Thursday after a brief illness.

Lombardo had served as the chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation from 2000 to 2015 before moving to his Meritus role.

“Last night, the Broadcasters Foundation and the broadcast industry lost a great man,” said current Broadcasters Foundation Chairman Scott Herman. “As Chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation for many years, Phil left an indelible mark. He was passionate about our mission and one of our biggest donors, giving both time and money to helping colleagues in need.”

“It would be impossible for me to quantify all that I learned from Phil Lombardo over the course of our nearly 40-year association,” added Citadel Communications President and COO Ray Cole. “Phil was a boss, a mentor, and a partner. Most of all, he was a dear friend who changed my life in immeasurable ways. While his impact on the broadcasting industry was vast and deep, Phil’s enduring legacy will be the vision and passion with which he led the Broadcasters Foundation of America. His contributions to its mission — helping fellow broadcasters in need — had no bounds. That commitment is sure to live on forever.”

In lieu of flowers, Lombardo’s family has asked that donations be made to the newly created Phillip J. Lombardo Memorial Fund, established by the Broadcasters Foundation to honor the legendary executive’s work in the field.

“Phil had a strong personality, but his heart was bigger,” added Broadcasters Foundation President Tim McCarthy. “No one worked harder than Phil to raise money from our biggest donors. He gave more than anyone in our industry to colleagues who need it most.”

After the announcement of Lombardo’s death, the NAB also released a statement memorializing the Citadel Communications CEO.

“Phil Lombardo was a pioneer in the broadcasting industry; his contributions were immense and his influence widespread. His passion for broadcasting set a standard that will continue to inspire generations to come,” NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt wrote in the statement.

“Phil’s leadership extended beyond his business achievements. His service as NAB joint board chair helped shape the future of our association and left an indelible mark on our industry. But his legacy will certainly be his work to help broadcasters in their times of greatest need, through the Broadcasters Foundation of America (BFOA). I had the privilege of serving with him on the BFOA board and witnessing firsthand his unwavering dedication to the men and women of the broadcast industry, giving back to those who have given so much to our communities across the country.

“We extend our deepest condolences to Phil’s family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. His legacy will live on, and he will be deeply missed.”

Phil Lombardo was 88. He founded Citadel Communications in 1982, before ultimately completely divesting itself from the TV business by selling its remaining stations to Nexstar Media Group last year.

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Media Business

Warner Bros. Discovery Halts Merger Talks with Paramount Global

Skydance Media continues to perform “due diligence” on a potential purchase of the company.

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Warner Bros. Discovery has ended talks with Paramount Global about a potential acquisition after stock prices for both companies dropped to a 52-week low.

A report from CNBC claims WBD broke off talks after spending several months exploring a potential takeover of the company. The report added that Skydance Media continues to perform “due diligence” on a potential purchase of the company.

A previous CNBC report claimed WBD CEO David Zaslav and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish had discussions about a potential merger late last year. The talks then heated up in January, but have since cooled as Warner Bros. Discovery stock dropped 10% last week after it failed to reach targets for earnings and revenue. The company’s stock price has nearly been cut in half in the past year and is trading at 52-week lows.

Meanwhile, Paramount just implemented widespread job cuts, eliminating the roles of 800 inside the company as its stock price also has dropped. It will release its financial results on a Wednesday earnings call.

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Media Business

Cumulus Saw 11.4% Drop in Revenue in 2023

“We were able to offset some of the effects of the weak national advertising climate through strong execution in our key focus areas.”

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Cumulus has announced its 2023 operating results, and while there were gains in some areas, overall, the company saw a decline in total revenue.

In 2023, the company saw $844.5 million in total revenue. That represents a decline of 11.4%, and a decline of 10% when you compare it to other non-politically dominant years.

However, the company did see a 2.9% year-over-year increase in digital revenue, with that sector rising to $146.4 million. Digital revenue accounted for 17% of the company’s total revenue. Cumulus directly attributed the uptick to an increase in audience growth from its relationship with the NFL and its primetime package with Westwood One.

In total, the company recorded a net loss of $117.9 million, compared to a $16.2 million net income in 2022.

“While 2023 was a tough year across the media landscape, we were able to offset some of the effects of the weak national advertising climate through strong execution in our key focus areas. Specifically, we grew our digital businesses, meaningfully reduced fixed costs, and improved our balance sheet,” said Cumulus President and CEO Mary Berner.

“Looking ahead, though national advertisers are expressing interest in increasing their radio buys, as of yet, ad demand remains choppy, reducing our visibility into the rest of 2024. That said, our industry-leading performance during similarly weak macro environments gives us significant confidence in our ability to navigate through this one and rebound strongly when the advertising market improves.”

Cumulus reported total debt of $675.8 million at the end of the calendar year, with a net debt of $595.1 million.

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Media Business

iHeartMedia Adds David Pigue and Sophia Gonzalez to Government Affairs Staff

Pigue had previously worked for Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on various policy issues. Gonzalez comes to the company after serving as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA).

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iHeartMedia has added David Pigue as Senior Director of Policy Counsel and Sophia Gonzalez has been named Manager of Government Affairs.

Pigue had previously worked for Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on various policy issues. Meanwhile, Gonzalez comes to the company after serving as the Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA).

Additionally, the Washington D.C.-based division promoted Jessica Marventano (Executive Vice President) and Sara Morris (Vice President of Government Affairs) at the company, as well.

“David and Sophia together bring a wealth of experience in areas of key importance to iHeartMedia that will be of tremendous value to iHeart’s work in Washington on behalf of our more than 860 local radio stations as well as the company’s industry-leading digital and podcasting platforms,” Marventano said, according to Inside Radio.

“Our company is deeply appreciative of iHeartMedia’s Government Affairs team and their hard work on behalf of our company as well as on issues of critical importance to the broadcast radio industry,” added Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman. “I congratulate Jessica and Sara on their promotions, and welcome David and Sophia to the iHeart team.”

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