Tim Armstrong is stepping down as CEO of Oath, the digital-media arm of Verizon that includes AOL, Yahoo, TechCrunch and HuffPost, on Oct. 1. He will be replaced by K. Guru Gowrappan, who has been COO at the company since April. Before coming to Oath, Gowrappan was global managing director of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group. Armstrong, who will be staying on as an adviser through the end of the year, has been with Verizon since its 2015 acquisition of AOL, where he had been CEO. He was named CEO of Oath, which was formed when Verizon bought Yahoo! and combined it with AOL, in 2017. While Armstrong had planned to turn Oath into a competitor for digital advertising dollars with Facebook and Google, Verizon management has taken a more conservative approach to use wireless subscriber data to boost Oath’s ad revenue, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Oath CFO Vanessa Wittman and communications chief Natalie Ravitz are also rumored to be leaving the company.
iHeart Media is raising its profile in the podcasting business with the acquisition of Stuff Media. Stuff Media CEO Conal Byrne will join iHeart Media and will head up the combined entity’s podcast division. iHeart Media, which is estimated to have 5.6 million monthly viewers according to figures from podcast audience measurement company Podtrac, is second only to NPR’s 15.8 million in audience numbers. The addition of Stuff Media will add another 5.3 million monthly listeners to iHeartMedia’s total. While the price of the transaction is said to be $55 million, iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman would not comment on the subject. While podcasting’s audience figures have more than doubled over the last five years, its advertising revenue still lags far behind traditional radio. While the Interactive Advertising Bureau says that podcasts drew $313.9 million in ads in 2017, ad spending on radio is expected to hit $14.41 billion this year.
Fox News is firming up its lineup for “FOX Nation,” the streaming service that the network says will launch in the fourth quarter of this year. Among the service’s content, which Fox says will offer “everything from deep dives into the issues of the day to daily short and long-form programming” will be two entries helmed by Tomi Lahren. At 9:30 a.m., she will appear on “First Thoughts,” and at 5 p.m. will present a “Final Thoughts” segment. The network says that the programs will focus on “top issues of the daily news cycle” through the prism of Lahren’s “unique take on everything from politics to pop culture.” Almost all of the regular Fox crew—from Sean Hannity to Jeanine Pirro—are set to appear on the service, though the network had few specifics as to scheduling or program formats.
Missoula Independent, alt-newsweekly owned by Lee Enterprises, informed staffers of shutdown by email. “This is to give you notice that we are closing the Missoula Independent as of September 11, 2018,” the email said. “As of that time, the offices will be closed and you are not to report to work or come into the building.” The paper’s staff had unionized last April. Along with firing the staff, Davenport, IA-based Lee Enterprises, which acquired the paper last year, also deleted the publication’s archives. In contrast, when the Village Voice was shuttered last month, owner Pete Barbey, made a point of saying he would keep on staffers to digitally archive its content. Lee Enterprises chalked up $567M in fiscal 2017 revenues from its nearly 50 newspapers in 21 states.