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"FOCUS, BUSTER," SAYS BERNER, AS CUMULUS STOCK SLIDE CONTINUES

Mary Berner, who was tapped to replace Lew Dickey at Cumulus Media in late September, has failed to stop the precipitous stock slide, Claire Atkinson writes in the New York Post.  Cumulus shares, which had lost 80% of their value this year before the CEO turnover, dropped nearly 39% last week, closing at 46 cents Friday.

Berner was most recently the CEO of Reader’s Digest Association, where she built Allrecipes into a big digital site before the company filed for bankruptcy. She’s supposed to roll out a turnaround plan by mid-December. But just two weeks into her tenure, she’s already getting a no-confidence vote from Wall Street.

“Mary Berner is a bit of an unusual choice. Radio needs to look forward, and she’s looking even more backwards,” one debt-holder told Atkinson. “The most logical thing is to break it up and sell it.”

There’s growing speculation that Berner could sell Westwood One and major-market stations to pay down some $2.5 billion of debt as Dickey aggressively bought up stations.

On the plus side, Cumulus has more than $100m in cash and no major debt coming due until 2019.

Also undetermined is the future of NASH. Under Dickey, Cumulus made a big bet on country-music brand, which it extended to radio stations, TV and a record label with Scott Borchetta.

Berner efforts at morale-boosting have included giving staffers sweaters bearing a “Ghostbusters”-like logo with the phrase “Focus Buster,” insiders said.

The company, which is moving to New York, earned two downgrades last week from Macquarie Capital and RBC Capital. Wall Street is increasingly concerned that Q3 results on Thursday (11/5) will be abysmal.

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