Casting off a term that conjured the historical power of radio, Clear Channel has renamed itself by echoing the moniker of its successful new digital platform. It is now iHeartMedia.
It said the change reflects its success at becoming “a one-of-a-kind multi-platform media company with unparalleled reach and impact.”
Encompassed within that name are the company’s 859 radio stations; iHeartMedia Digital; content syndicator Premiere Networks, with 5,500 radio affiliates; the Total Traffic and Weather Network; its live music events and festival business; related companies, including RCS and Katz Media Group; and Clear Channel Outdoor, which will retain that name.
The company said in the announcement, “iHeartMedia reflects both the success and the cultural impact of the iHeartRadio business formed three years ago and the evolution of the company's major local radio station brands and franchises to include mobile, social and events.”
The company said iHeartRadio “has become the dominant national consumer brand among the company’s assets,” yet Pittman also emphasized the continuing importance of radio: “iHeartMedia was created by the strongest broadcast radio stations in the country, and we will continue to build this company the same way on the country¹s strongest radio stations. We are especially excited because our digital platform extends the reach and impact for our wildly popular on-air personalities and it’s a platform that only iHeartMedia provides.” Just last week, Pittman – perhaps with today’s announcement in mind – told a Radio Show convention audience that “there is no franchise in the world better than a radio station.”
Pittman today emphasized radio’s return on investment: “In a world where 2x ROI is judged as successful, Nielsen has shown that radio delivers 6x ROI on average. It's because we combine the power and predictably of mass reach with the immediacy and relevance of live programming and the unique and powerful engagement that consumers have with their favorite radio stations and personalities.” He said the company’s opportunity is to “use all of these industry-leading assets together in new ways.”
He described iHeartMedia as “the largest mobile media company in existence” -- more than 60% of its broadcast usage is out of home, he said -- and highlighted the firm’s “massive consumer reach and influence across our platforms … we know how to program the live content people want to hear, see and share right now.”
You can read the full text of the announcement here.
Cynicism about the company's corporate history and financial situation is hard to shake. One observer on Twitter reacted to the news: “Clear Channel is now iHeartMedia. New name, same crippling debt.”
The earlier name was a riff on the term clear-channel stations, referring to a class of AM signals that were, and still are, protected from interference to ensure a broad geographical footprint. The radio roots of the company called Clear Channel date to 1972 in Texas; and over the ensuing decades the firm grew to become the largest U.S. radio company as measured by both station count and revenue, thanks to numerous phases of acquisitions made possible in part by the easing of federal broadcast ownership regulations.