Joel Hollander Biography

Chair and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Radio

Born c. 1956, in New York, NY; married Susan; children: two. Education: Earned degree in broadcasting from Indiana State University, c. 1978.

Addresses: Office —CBS Radio, 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.


Began career at radio station in Daytona, FL, c. 1978; held advertising-sales positions at several New York City-area radio stations after 1980; WFAN-AM, sales manager, 1987-91, and general manager, 1991-98; chief executive officer, Westwood One, 1998-2003; named president and chief operating officer, Infinity Broadcasting, June, 2003; chair and chief executive officer, January, 2005— (renamed CBS Radio, December, 2005).


Joel Hollander has spent his entire career in radio, and in 2005 reached the pinnacle of the profession when he was named chief executive officer and board chair of Infinity Broadcasting. He succeeded the legendary Mel Karmazin, who had built Infinity into a powerhouse with 180 stations, many of which dominate their local markets in ratings and advertising revenue. Later in 2005, in a nod to some corporate reshuffling, Hollander's company became CBS Radio.

Born in the mid-1950s, Hollander grew up in the New York City borough of the Bronx, the son of a formalwear store manager. He planned to study

sports medicine when he enrolled at Indiana State University, but switched to broadcasting. His roommate, future Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas, knew someone at a radio station in Daytona, Florida, and that became Hollander's first post-college job. At the station, he produced shows, wrote copy, and even sold ads. "It was small, so I learned how to do everything, " Hollander recalled in an interview with Robin Kamen for Crain's New York Business.

Hollander excelled in advertising sales, and worked for several New York City-area stations after returning to his hometown in 1980. In 1987, he joined a turnaround team at Emmis Broadcasting, which was in the process of changing over a Queens-based country music station to a 24-hour-a-day all-sports format. The concept was a new one at the time, and industry analysts were initially wary, but WFAN-AM emerged as a terrific success after it went on the air in August of 1987. Within a few years, its all-sports format was being replicated in other radio markets across the United States.

Hollander served as sales manager of WFAN, and when the station was sold to Karmazin's Infinity Broadcasting in 1991, he was made its general manager. Just over a decade after going on the air, WFAN was grossing $55 million annually, which made it the most successful radio property in the United States. In 1998, Karmazin promoted Hollander once again, this time to become chief executive of Westwood One, which was part of the CBS Radio group. (CBS Radio and Infinity Broadcasting merged in 1997, and operated under the Infinity name until 2005). Westwood One was a company that provided programming, such as college football games and nationally syndicated talk-show programs, to radio stations around the country.

Westwood One was not doing very well at the time, but Hollander managed to turn it into a major industry force in just a few short years. He helped develop programs for political pundits Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham, oversaw the acquisition of Metro Networks, and increased its automated music format services, which beam content to stations via satellite. Karmazin, impressed once again by Hollander's talents, elevated him to president and chief operating officer of Infinity Broadcasting in June of 2003.

Infinity was the second-largest radio group in the United States when Hollander came on board. Its biggest revenue stream came from controversial "shock jock" Howard Stern, whose show went out in syndication to 27 stations across the United States. Stern and his vulgar jokes, industry analysts theorized, brought in an estimated $100 million a year in ad revenues for Infinity. But in the fall of 2004, Stern announced he was leaving terrestrial radio when his current contract expired, and was signing with Sirius Satellite Radio. The move—by one of the highest paid radio personalities in the country—was considered a turning point for satellite radio and, some said, the beginning of the end for terrestrial radio.

Hollander became responsible for dispelling those concerns when he became chair and chief executive officer of Infinity in January of 2005. The company was still on solid ground, he told writer Dorothy Pomerantz at the end of the year, not long after Stern's last day with Infinity. "When you're replacing someone who's been on the air for 20 years, it takes some time, " he explained. "Will it take 24 months? I don't think so. We live in a society where people want quick answers, whether it's Wall Street or sports or politics. You have to be patient."

Stern's defection was only one part of the problem at Infinity, however. Over the past five years, radio had undergone a period of major consolidation. Nearly every station was owned by one of the big players, such as Infinity or its nearest rival, Clear Channel, and while radio had grown into a $21 billion-a-year industry and pleased Wall Street investors with its enormous profit margins, listeners were straying. Music formats had become too homogenized, some asserted, and the reliance on automated formats meant that many stations lost their local identity.

Hollander's solution to keep listeners from jumping to satellite radio was a multi-pronged approach. He introduced a new format in several top markets, which featured a much more extensive musical playlist, and okayed the development of Visual Radio, which could send content to cell-phone users. The company, which jettisoned the "Infinity" moniker and reverted back to CBS Radio name in December of 2005, also made radio history by launching the first podcasting radio station in the country. Listeners of KYOURadio in San Francisco can submit their own podcasts for broadcast. The term refers to individually created playlists of multimedia files, which can be played back over a computer or downloaded into mobile devices.

Hollander was also bullish on the possibilities promised by high-definition radio, which would gave broadcasters additional bandwidth for extra, specially targeted programming. "If you build the content and it's good, people listen, " he told Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Tribune about his company's commitment to the millions of remaining terrestrial radio listeners. "It's like Field of Dreams , if you build it and it's good, they come. If you build it and it's not good, they don't come."

Hollander is married and has two children. He and wife Susan's four-month-old daughter, Carly Jenna, died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in 1993. The Hollanders established the CJ Foundation for SIDS in her honor, which raises awareness of SIDS, which is sometimes called crib death. The Foundation holds an annual radiothon, hosted by Hollander's longtime radio colleague Don Imus, and provides grants for SIDS researchers.



Chicago Tribune , October 19, 2005.

Crain's New York Business , November 30, 1998, p. 19.

MediaWeek , May 2, 2005, p. 22.

New York Times , May 16, 2003, p. C4.

Time , March 13, 2006, p. A6.


"No Stern? No Problem, " , http://www. (April 23, 2006).

Carol Brennan

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