Last year, a prominent advertising executive listed Bob Pittman as one of 10 marketers who have “transformed American culture,” thus putting him in the company of P.T. Barnum, Walt Disney, Martha Stewart, Henry Ford and Oprah Winfrey.
Now, after what looks in hindsight to have been something of a trial run in few months, Pittman has taken the CEO chair at Clear Channel.
This move gives the big media company a visible top man who is familiar to the business and financial communities but who also is thought of as much in terms of innovative TV and online media as traditional radio.
The announcement also instantly makes Pittman one of the most prominent voices of the U.S. commercial radio industry in general.
Pittman famously helped start MTV — which earned him the place on that top 10 list — and later was a senior exec at AOL. He joined Clear Channel Communications last year as an investor and chairman of its Media and Entertainment Platforms business. Now he is taking on more responsibility, becoming the chief executive officer of parent company CC Media Holdings Inc.
This marks the first time a member of the Mays family is not at the helm of the San Antonio-based company, which was acquired in 2008 by a group of private equity companies lead by Bain Capital Partners.
Pittman said the chance to become more involved with the company had become “irresistible. We are so much more than just transmitters and broadcast towers — we leverage our local brands, personalities, strategic relationships and programming expertise to create unique experiences that forge real connections with consumers across our multiple platforms.”
The company said the move is an endorsement of the strategy Pittman brought to Clear Channel to bring a traditional “old media” company into the digital age. Pittman will oversee the company’s global media properties, including broadcast, digital and mobile syndication, media representation and outdoor.
Pittman’s appointment comes on the heels of the acquisition of digital music company Thumbplay in March and the launch of the new iHeartRadio digital music service, according to Clear Channel.
Mark Mays, the former chief executive officer of Clear Channel Media Holdings, will remain chairman. Mays announced more than a year ago that he would step down as CEO after working at the company for more than two decades. John Hogan, head of Clear Channel Radio, also will stay with the company, according to the announcement.
Pittman will remain a member of the Pilot Group private investment firm.