With only two weeks to go until Mark Mays is scheduled to step down, Clear Channel Communications has yet to name a successor as CEO. Mays will remain as Chairman of the Board of parent company CC Media Holdings, so it may not be imperative that the new CEO be sitting at his/her desk at the beginning of January.
Clear Channel recently made a major addition to its executive staff with the hiring of Bob Pittman as Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms. Pittman, “The Father of MTV,” is charged with overseeing development of “a comprehensive, integrated digital strategy” for the company’s core radio business and other media platforms. But while he is focused on the media strategy and operations, the company will still need a chief executive.
Best known for Clear Channel Radio, which includes Premiere Radio Networks, and its billboard sister, Clear Channel Outdoor, CC Media Holdings/Clear Channel Communications owns several related businesses as well. A quick list: Katz Media Group (the largest media rep firm); Clear Channel Total Traffic Network (providing traffic information to radio and TV, plus direct to vehicles); Clear Channel Satellite Services (uplink and distribution); Twelve Creative (production services); Clear Channel Communications News Networks (radio news networks in Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida); Critical Mass Media (research); Inside Radio (radio trade publication); VIERO Revenue Management Solutions (media sales software); and RCS (broadcast software). So, the new CEO will have more to deal with than radio stations.
RBR-TVBR observation: Hiring Pittman took care of the media operations side in a big way, so we’re expecting to see someone with primarily a Wall Street background as CEO. Clear Channel and its private equity owners have done some remarkable financial maneuvers the past couple of years to stay ahead of the vulture funds hoping (and trying hard) to push the company into a default on its huge debt load. The new CEO will have some breathing room there, but more balance sheet work will be required no later than 2012.