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Pittman Likes the Sound of Radio

“In my mind, when you look at radio, you’re looking at the future.”

Bob Pittman, former CEO of MTV Networks and former COO of AOL, can’t understand the negative talk about “America’s companion.”

“It’s frustrating for me, as it is for all of you, to hear people talk about radio as if there’s something wrong with the business,” he said at the Radio Luncheon, where he was keynote speaker. “In my mind, when you look at radio, you’re looking at the future. All you have to do is look at the consumer.”

Pittman said a good consumer business is about two things: convenience and branding. And radio offers both.

In America, a country that prefers convenience, immediate accessibility of a product is a must. That’s why radio’s got the goods: it’s mobile, it’s easy to use and it has lots of choice, he said.

“We beg people to do the work for us … and the heart of radio is doing the work for the consumer,” Pittman said.

Radio certainly offers consumers the convenience, but it excels at the branding.

“I think there’s probably no better brand-builders in the world than radio programmers,” he said.

Why should stations focus their energy on strengthening their brand? Because brand buyers are not shopping anymore, he said.

Though radio continues to come in second behind television in terms of usage, it’s a respectable second. Pittman posted charts that showed media usage by Americans within the last 24 hours: TV, 89.9 percent; radio, 74.2 percent.

“If TV is America’s hobby, then radio is America’s companion.”

Most people would probably have placed the Internet before radio but the Internet still doesn’t come close to radio.

“Radio remains strong … usage remains strong year after year,” he said. “These are the facts. And somehow what’s being written [about radio’s decline] does not reflect these facts.”

This story includes information gathered for the NAB Daily News, ©2008 NAB.