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Daily Beast: Beck’s CEO Exits as ‘The Blaze Burns Down’

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Lloyd Grove writes in the Daily Beast:

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In what knowledgeable observers say is a sign of increasing turmoil in Glenn Beck’s troubled media empire, Beck’s longtime mentor and corporate executive, Kraig Kitchin, has quit as CEO of The Blaze.

Kitchin’s replacement, Stewart Padveen, a digital startup entrepreneur who joined Beck’s company last summer, will be the fourth leader of The Blaze since late 2014.

Kitchin, 54, who took over operations of Beck’s conservative-leaning subscription digital and cable television enterprise last June—after two previous CEOs abruptly left in the space of six months—is resigning along with two other senior executives: Jeremy Price, director of advertising sales, and Liz Julis, director of marketing…. Several other key employees, including at least two senior producers based in The Blaze’s shrinking New York operation, are expected to follow them out the door.

A source close to the situation predicted a “mass exodus” from the New York studios, which are housed in a largely unoccupied 35,000 square-foot space at Midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park, previously rented by Yahoo, under a 10-year lease costing Beck’s privately held company an estimated $2 million a year.

[…]

But according to multiple sources, Kitchin’s announcement comes out of frustration after continual friction with top Beck executive Jonathan Schreiber, the recently named president of Beck’s 14-year-old production company, Mercury Radio Arts.

According to multiple sources, Kitchin—who commuted from his home in Los Angeles to Dallas and New York—took the CEO job on an interim basis with the condition that Schreiber would agree not to interfere in The Blaze, an agreement that Kitchin realized was continually being breached. According to people familiar with the situation, Schreiber’s alleged meddling in Kitchin’s operation ultimately became intolerable.

[…]

Schreiber’s alleged intrusion is said to have also figured in the departure in June of then-Blaze chief executive Betsy Morgan, an experienced digital media executive who previously ran CBS News’s digital operations, helped grow The Huffington Post, and built TheBlaze.com into a news and aggregation site that–in November 2014– attracted 29 million unique visitors per month.

But by November 2015—according to figures from the Web traffic measuring service Quantcast—monthly traffic for TheBlaze.com had dropped to 16.4 million unique visitors, and traffic for the associated web site GlennBeck.com, had plunged from 4.4 million to 1.4 million uniques.

[…]

Besides a period of staff layoffs and turnover that continues to this day, and despite claims of profitability, that “history” apparently includes taking on more debt than the company’s principal owner was comfortable with.

At a staff meeting in New York last February, Beck exhorted his employees to pinch pennies and said the company’s debt was too high at $3 million—a figure sources said later grew to $5 million or more.

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