Brad Polston is out as iHeart Media’s local market manager after 14 months of leading the cluster of radio stations that includes WFBQ-FM 94.7 and WNDE-AM 1260.
Polston, whose last day was Jan. 11, said the parting was “mutual.”
“We were just headed in different directions,” said Polston, who also told IBJ that he hasn't yet determined his next career move.
Longtime advertising exec Brett Beshore, 49, was named to replace Polston.
In addition to Q-95 and WNDE, the local iHeart cluster also contains alternative rock station WOLT-FM 103.3 and hip-hop station WZRL-FM 98.3, which signed on the air in early 2017. It was formerly Radio Disney until iHeart bought it.
Most recently, Beshore sold billboard advertising as the regional president of Adams+Fairway Outdoor Advertising in Indianapolis.
“There are no major changes planned,” Beshore said Tuesday morning. “We have very strong brands and we’re in pretty good shape ratings-wise. We’re just going to operate at a higher level. We intend to make this the dream place to work in broadcasting, both on-the-air and in sales.”
Beshore will be making his second tour of duty with iHeart Radio. From 2009-11, he was vice president and market manager for iHeart’s Hudson Valley, New York cluster. In 2011, Radio Ink Magazine named Beshore “General Manager of the Year.”
Beshore moved to iHeartMedia affiliate Clear Channel Outdoor in Indianapolis in 2011 and stayed there when Adams+Fairway bought the local division of Clear Channel Outdoor last year.
A source close to situation described Polston’s departure from iHeart as “sudden.”
In Polston’s tenure, WFBQ’s audience share has increased by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage while WOLT has had a small decline in audience size, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. WNDE, a sports and news-talk station with a smaller audience, had a slight increase in audience size during Polston’s tenure, according to Nielsen.
But two sources close to iHeart said there was corporate unrest about ad sales at the local cluster.
Last month, WNDE canceled its local morning sports talk show, “Flagrant Foul,” hosted by Don Stuck and Dave “Gunner” Gunn. A source close to the station said that was a decision made by iHeart corporate officials and was not favored by Polston.
Polston said he’ll miss working “with a great staff” at the local iHeart cluster of stations.
“I think it’s a great cluster of stations. They have great people there,” Polston said. “Those people in that building are simply a fantastic group of individuals, and I wish them the best.”
Polston, a 50-year-old Indianapolis native, had more than 20 years of experience in the media industry. Before joining iHeart, he was general manager for Comcast Spotlight in Indianapolis. At Comcast, Polston said he was in charge of the cable television’s local sales and marketing arm.
Prior to that, Polston held a variety of sales management positions for Comcast in Colorado, Utah and the Baltimore region. In total, he was with Comcast for 23 years.