“Disassociating from Podcast Movement” – that is the official word from Cumulus Media following the convention’s handling of an unscheduled appearance by conservative radio and podcast host Ben Shapiro at the annual confab late last month in Dallas. The acrimonious split means Cumulus has cancelled its sponsorship plans for Podcast Movement 2023.
The Daily Wire, whose ad sales are handled by Cumulus, made a first-time appearance at Podcast Movement with a booth on the convention floor in Dallas. It had already raised eyebrows as an anomaly in a room of exhibitors that features several left-leaning producers. But a full-fledged backlash ensued with the drop-in by Daily Wire cofounder Shapiro on Aug. 24. Podcast Movement organizers called their decision to sell The Daily Wire booth space a “mistake.” Conference organizers issued an apology the next day in a series of Twitter posts for selling exhibit space to The Daily Wire and for allowing Shapiro on the show floor, despite not being registered for the event.
Now Cumulus is firing back. “At Cumulus Media, our tenet is that Every Voice Matters and we support conferences and trade events where differing political viewpoints can be expressed and received with respect,” the company said in a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon. “As such, we were dismayed and disappointed by Podcast Movement’s handling of the reaction to our partner, top podcaster, and conservative talk leader Ben Shapiro’s mere presence at Podcast Movement.”
The Cumulus Podcast Network has been The Daily Wire's advertising sales representative since 2016. Additionally, its flagship radio show, “The Ben Shapiro Show,” has been nationally syndicated through Westwood One since 2019.
Cumulus says it waited to end its relationship with the event after “giving the leaders of Podcast Movement sufficient time to appropriately address their misstep.”
Podcast Movement organizers said that attendees and others in the podcast industry that called them out over the incident were right. “In nine wonderful years growing and celebrating this medium, Podcast Movement has made mistakes. The pain caused by this one will always stick with us. We promise that sponsors will be more carefully considered moving forward,” the organization’s statement said.