WASHINGTON – Cumulus Media, which syndicates radio stars Don Imus, Mark Levin and Michael Savage, among others, is having some ratings issues of its own – on Wall Street.
On Friday, Cumulus shares were trading at 41 cents, down from $5.45 in September 2015 when Chief Executive Lew Dickey left the company. In early 2014, a share was selling at $64.04.
It is threatened with delisting by Nasdaq and is facing the distinct possibility of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Current Chief Executive Officer Mary Berner, who led Reader’s Digest through bankruptcy proceedings, is receiving bonus payments on a quarterly basis instead of the typical end-of-year cycle.
Still, the company reports it is making progress in its “multi-year turnaround,” having reached a financial inflection point driven by ratings share growth, stabilization of the operations, and sustained outperformance against peers despite a tough market environment.
Cumulus owns hundreds of radio stations and syndication company Westwood One.
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Private equity firm Crestview Partners has adopted a poison pill to stop a predatory investor from a takeover.
Dickey has reportedly raised a $209 million investment fund after leaving the board last March.
Cumulus has been out of compliance with its rule of maintaining a minimum $1 per share price for 30 consecutive days since February. Its market capitalization has also been below $5 million for that period. The company has until Oct. 2 to regain compliance. To do so, Cumulus would have to reach the $1 per share threshold for at least 10 consecutive business days. If it fails to meet that mark, the company can be granted an additional 180 days.
The company lost $510 million in 2016 and is carrying $2.4 billion in debt.
Cumulus owns several of the nation’s largest radio stations, including KABC in Los Angeles and WABC in New York.
While radio programming remains popular, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, more than 90 percent of the Americans surveyed said they had listened to radio via an online or broadcast form in a given week.
But revenues for political talk radio have taken a hit compared to other formats such as music and sports as a number of major advertisers have also been fleeing the programs of political radio hosts under pressure from left-leaning activists who have been complaining to ad buyers. Nevertheless, advertising during political shows costs less than spots airing during non-political programs.