Saturday, September 8, 2018

Indy Radio: Despite Ratings, Cumulus Fired Tom Stemlar

Despite overseeing two of the top-rated radio stations in the city, Tom Stemlar is out as Cumulus Media’s Indianapolis market manager.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, Stemlar lost his job Aug. 27 and was replaced by former iHeartMedia Cincinnati Region President Chuck Fredrick.

Cumulus operates three stations in Indianapolis: Classic Rock WJJK 104.5 FM 104.5, Country WFMS 955 FM, and CHR WYRG 93.9 FM.

“When I departed Cumulus Indianapolis on Aug 27th, it had the No. 1 and No. 2 rated stations in Indianapolis, was a powerhouse on the Indy Media landscape, was stocked with talent both on and off-air, and was positioned and poised for even further growth,” Stemlar told IBJ via email. “Those were some of the objectives we had when I started at Cumulus three years ago, and I’m very proud of what we accomplished and where Cumulus Indianapolis stands today.”

Chuck Fredrick
Local radio advertisers told IBJ they were surprised by Stemlar’s departure.

In July, according to Nielsen Media, WJJK-FM  was tops among all listeners in the market with a 7.9 share. WFMS was ranked No. 2 among all listeners in July with a 7.7 share, ahead of WFBQ 94.7 FM (Q-95), iHeart Media’s classic rock station, which was No. 3 in July with a 6.9 share.

WJJK and WFMS also did well in key demographics that attract advertisers.
Tom Stemlar

Under Stemlar’s leadership, WFMS earlier this spring reached the top spot among listeners in this market for the first time since November 2013.

WYRG-FM hasn’t done as well. Despite changing its format from old school hip-hop to top 40, the station has failed to gain much traction with local listeners.

Stemlar told IBJ he was at a loss to explain his firing. Cumulus officials declined to comment on the firing.

Sources in the local industry said lagging advertising sales likely contributed to Stemlar’s firing. June and July were brutal months for ad sales for the vast majority of stations in the Indianapolis market, they said.

According to Miller Kaplan, a research service that most stations subscribe to, year-over-year radio advertising in the market was down 15 percent in June and 23 percent in July. One radio source told IBJ that June and July made up the worst two-month period this market has seen in several years.

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