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Pittman, ‘Thinking Outside of the Box’

WSJ profile is recommended reading

The Wall Street Journal ran a good piece on Clear Channel head Bob Pittman. The article quotes former MTV chief Tom Freston saying Pittman is “drawn to the challenge of a turnaround and working on something that most people think is doomed.” It also quotes Joel Hollander, former CEO of CBS Radio: “He’s thinking out of the box and he has to be credited with that.”Among other key points:

“It is a challenge unlike anything else he has taken on. Whereas his involvement with both MTV and AOL occurred when they were fresh and new, radio is one of the oldest of old media. Its future was bleak even before the Internet and satellite radio came along, but now traditional radio faces an array of digital competitors in streaming music services, from Pandora to Spotify.”

“A marketer at heart, Mr. Pittman sees his challenge as shaking off radio’s fusty image and winning back advertisers who left for other media. He argues that, contrary to popular belief, listeners never deserted radio. … Mr. Pittman has been touring the country talking up radio and schmoozing advertisers with a series of ‘show business’ events.”

“Building a digital footprint is crucial. … Mr. Pittman’s plan is to make Clear Channel’s stations available free on as many platforms as possible.”

The story also discusses Clear Channel debt leverage and financial flexibility. For a view of how Wall Street sees Clear Channel right now, it is recommended reading (subscription).