Change at the top at CBS Radio

Mason back as president and CEO as Hollander exits

CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves is putting his trust in a known hand to turn around his company's struggling radio unit.

In a reshuffle that took Wall Street observers by surprise, the CBS Radio unit said Monday that Joel Hollander has resigned as chairman and CEO after two years in that position. Former company executive Dan Mason has returned to CBS Radio as president and CEO, reporting to Moonves.

Mason will oversee CBS Radio's 144 radio stations as well as day-to-day operations of the division.

"Dan brings with him a wealth of diverse experience and a true passion for the radio business," Moonves said. "He is a well-known and respected leader within the industry and our company, and his perspectives on how radio can thrive and grow in our highly competitive media world are very exciting."

Said Mason: "Radio reaches more than 90% of the population of the United States, and there is no better medium to call our listeners to action and deliver results for our advertisers. The combination of our premier content with new technology applications will enable CBS Radio to move to a new plateau."

In an interview late Monday, Mason said he sees himself mainly as a content developer, even though CBS in a statement also lauded his track record of financial performance. "I am a programmer at heart," he said. "I want to develop strong programming."

His first priority will be to visit stations nationwide and listen to his people, Mason said. "I make very few corporate decisions," he said. "I am very much into letting stations be run autonomously. They all have individual challenges and opportunities."

While he said it was too early to discuss specifics, he signaled that digital applications and other technology he has seen in other countries might find their way to CBS Radio stations. He also emphasized that high-definition radio remains "a big initiative" at the unit.

Overall, he said he is "excited" to work with Moonves again and lauded his boss' "deep commitment" to radio.

Mason returns after serving as an adviser and consultant to CBS and other domestic and international companies in the radio industry for the past five years.

He served as president of CBS Radio from 1995-2002, at which time he said he felt like stepping back for a while.

CBS Corp. on Monday credited Mason with successfully integrating the original CBS, Group W, Infinity Radio and American Radio Systems stations by merging operations, "blending business styles and increasing profitability."

Radio, which until a few years ago grew at a solid and healthy pace in the U.S., has remained sluggish in recent years amid such competition as the Internet, digital music players and satellite radio.

In 2006, CBS Radio revenue slipped 7% to $1.96 billion after it lost Howard Stern to Sirius Satellite Radio. Operating income before depreciation and amortization declined 11% to $820 million.

The overall U.S. radio advertising market edged up just 1% last year after a strong fourth quarter to $21.67 billion, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Hollander joined the unit now known as CBS Radio in 2003 as president and COO.

"We want to thank Joel for all his years of service to our company and wish him the best in his future endeavors," Moonves said.

Before running CBS Radio, he served as president and CEO of radio programmer Westwood One from 1998-2003. During his tenure, the company acquired Metro Networks, a provider of traffic, news, weather and sports information, and developed and expanded partnerships with sports leagues, among others.

At CBS Radio, he had success last year with the return of comedic talk duo Opie and Anthony.