Pittman: Internet does not compete with radio and television


Bob Pittman may be known to most of the world as an Internet visionary, but he was a broadcaster first and he told the NAB Show Radio Luncheon yesterday that it is frustrating to hear people talk about radio as if there’s something wrong with the business. “Radio is mobile, it’s easy to use, it has a lot of choice,” Pittman said. Repeating comments we’d heard him use previously when talking about new media, he said what makes a great consumer business is convenience and brand – and “radio wins on both counts.” The one-time radio programmer noted, “I think there are probably no better brand builders in the world than radio programmers.”

Despite all of the hype about the Internet replacing broadcasting, Pittman, who is currently an investor in radio and TV groups as well as new media, insisted “the Internet is not television or radio.” People still turn to broadcasting for entertainment, while they use the Internet to manage their lives.

As far as advertising is concerned, Pittman says the Internet is a replacement for print, not television. He cited usage data to demonstrate that newspapers and yellow pages get “way more” ad spending than their consumer usage deserves. He predicts a market share shift over the next 5-10 years and says that ad spending should not go just to the Internet, but to radio and television as well.

Pittman’s radio roots were noted again a few minutes later when NAB Radio Hall of Fame inductee Larry Lujack said the one regret of his career was that he had long ago turned down a job offer from Pittman. “I should have grabbed onto his coattails and let him drag me to unimaginable wealth,” the original “Super Jock” said.

The crusty personality was true to his reputation. “I suppose I’m supposed to thank every idiot program director and moron general manager I ever worked for, but that’s not going to happen,” Lujack said. He did, however, thank six former bosses who didn’t fire him, but said all of the others were the same – “they all tried to stifle me.”

But there was no one to stifle Lujack yesterday as his recollections of past career battles drew laughter and applause. In his typical gruff manner, Lujack asked why the NAB didn’t give him the honor 30 years ago so he could have enjoyed it for a few decades instead of only near the end of his life. “Thank you for this award which I so richly deserve,” he concluded.

NAB President David Rehr and his RAB counterpart, Jeff Haley, kicked off the Radio Luncheon by jointly announcing the “Radio Heard Hear” campaign that Rehr had referred to the previous day. “We will reach every person in America,” Rehr said of the new campaign to promote radio. “Radio is in a position of strength for the future,” declared Haley.

RBR/TVBR observation: Unfortunately, Bob Pittman is not drawing up media plans for major advertisers, so he is not in a position to enforce his view that every good media plan must include radio. In time his analysis that the Internet is not the best place for advertising to brand new products and remind consumers to buy may well be proven. He says TV is best for branding and radio best for reminding, and just reverse those for #2 in each case. In the meantime, though, radio is the cut of choice for many of those media planners wanting to increase spending allocation to the Internet and other new media. That may be foolish, but RAB, the reps and big groups have their work cut out to try to stop such thinking.