In an unexpected resignation, Shane Coppola is stepping down as Westwood One president/CEO, effective Thursday (Dec. 8). Coppola is also resigning as a director on the network’s board but will continue to consult the company and its board of directors through June 2007.
Coppola’s exit puts Infinity Broadcasting chairman/CEO Joel Hollander back in charge of WW1 on an interim basis, while continuing his responsibilities of running Infinity. Hollander, who ran the network from 1998-2003, will serve as interim president and CEO at the network until Coppola’s successor is named. Hollander is a director on the WW1 board; Infinity manages the network.
Meanwhile, WW1 said it is updating its fourth quarter 2005 financial guidance. The company now expects fourth quarter 2005 revenues to decline by a percentage in the low single digits from last year’s fourth quarter results, with a corresponding mid to high single digit percentage decrease in operating income before depreciation and amortization.
In explaining the revised guidance, WW1 said accelerated ad sales growth that occurred in last year’s Q4 “did not materialize as anticipated” during the corresponding quarter this year. For the full year 2005, the company expects a flat to low single digit percentage decline in revenues compared to last year, and operating income before depreciation and amortization to decrease by a percentage in the low to mid single digits relative to 2004.
President/CEO for WW1 since 2003, Coppola is widely credited with orchestrating Westwood’s purchase in 1999 of Metro Networks, the TV and radio traffic, weather and news service. His sudden departure comes at a time the radio industry and particularly the national and network radio business, has faced a tough market. Through the first nine months of the year, Westwood revenue dipped 4.6 percent. Due to the absence of the Olympics, third quarter revenue was down 6.0 percent.
Among the top contenders for the top position at Westwood is likely Peter Kosann, co-COO, who has risen quickly through the management ranks since he was brought on board under Hollander.
“We thank Shane for his leadership and contributions to Westwood One over the past three years,” Hollander said in a statement. “He leaves a strong foundation upon which to build as we move forward with the company’s vision and strategy for enhancing shareholder value.”
Coppola added: “Although I am saddened to leave my colleagues at Westwood One, I feel the time is right for me to pursue other professional opportunities. I look forward to assisting Joel and the Board, with whom I continue to have an excellent working relationship, in helping Westwood One expand and build on its solid reputation as a preeminent content provider.”