Clear Channel's Bob Pittman may build radio a bigger pie


Charles Warner, a blogger at Media, says that Bob Pittman is very adept at running winning media enterprises, with a long track and successful record in radio under his belt. But his greatest talent, one that may benefit all of radio, is in expanding the pie.

Warner said that the trade press generally gave Pittman a very warm welcome as he returned to the radio medium, but noted that most of the articles did not see him as a “radio” hire – in fact, he called radio the “Rodney Dangerfield of media” – instead ascribing his hire to his background in digital media. He suggested that this was an off-base analysis.

Warner cited Pittman’s success as a programmer at individual stations, and in multiple formats. But it was Pittman’s actions after he started to climb the ladder and moved into the operation of a group of stations that most impressed Warner.

“The Pilot Group investment fund, of which he is the founding partner, purchased a relatively small radio group, Double O Radio,” explained Warner. “So what did Pittman do to try to increase profits for the group? He didn’t cut expenses drastically, he didn’t try to program the stations himself, he didn’t cut rates in order to try to get a higher share of market revenue for his stations; instead he did the smarter and much harder thing – he tried to increase the size of the radio revenue pie.”

Pittman pitched radio as one of the best media bargains around before specifically pitching his own group. And this was the exact same model he pursued for AOL – he pitched the internet first, and AOL second.
The happy result for each medium is that the Pittman approach floats all boats, and Warner thinks he can pull it off again. He concluded, “So, radio is lucky to have him back where his heart, and now his money, is. He will increase the size of the radio revenue pie and the rising tide will lift all radio boats.”

Warner’s essay appeared on Huffington Post.

RBR-TVBR observation: The Clear Channel Pittman hire is already expanding the profile of radio. Huffington Post, where we found the story this article is based on, generally only delves into radio if a talk show host says something outrageous. It was nice to find a positive, business-related story there for a change.

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