Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

He’s Back: Bob Pittman Named CEO of Clear Channel

Longtime media and Internet exec Bob Pittman has been named CEO of radio broadcast and outdoor advertising giant Clear Channel, the company announced today.

Pittman — who has been chairman of Clear Channel’s media and entertainment platforms after making an investment in the company less than a year ago — will join the board of directors of CC Media Holdings, Clear Channel Communications and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, as executive chairman.

Clear Channel’s holdings include a huge parcel of radio stations across the U.S., along with a number of digital properties and a big global outdoor advertising business.

Pittman — the former MTV wunderkind who started in radio at 15 years old as an announcer at a station in his native Mississippi — has not been in a top job like this one since he resigned from the then-AOL Time Warner as its COO in the midst of the botched merger mishegas almost a decade ago.

Since then, Pittman has been doing a range of things, including making canny investments in a variety of Internet start-ups such as Zynga and DailyCandy, and even in a high-end tequila company via the Pilot Group, a New York-based private investment firm.

He made his own investment in Clear Channel last year and has since upped his involvement, which resulted in the latest move to CEO.

“I swore I would never work like this again, but when something gets me this stimulated, I knew I wanted to get into it again,” said Pittman, in an interview with me yesterday. “I think this company has everything it needs to be a great media company in the new media landscape.”

That will include a range of new initiatives, including recent partnerships with Facebook and more.

“We want to move like an entrepreneur and have the assets of a big media company,” said Pittman. “I am an addict for this challenge.”

Here’s the official press release from Clear Channel:


Appointment Underscores Clear Channel’s Evolution to a Fully Realized, Integrated Media, Digital and Entertainment Enterprise

Media Pioneer Will Oversee the Company’s Global Media Properties, including Broadcast, Digital and Mobile, Syndication, Media Representation and Outdoor

New York, NY — October 2, 2011 — CC Media Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: CCMO), a leading global media, digital and entertainment company, announced today that Bob Pittman will become its Chief Executive Officer. Pittman joined Clear Channel in November 2010 as an investor and the company’s Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms. Pittman will join the Board of Directors of CC Media Holdings, Inc. and Clear Channel Communications, Inc.; in addition, he will join the Board of Directors of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc., as its Executive Chairman. These appointments are effective immediately.

In his new role, Pittman will oversee the company’s businesses, which include:

Clear Channel Radio, which serves 150 cities through 850 owned radio stations and an additional 100 cities and 4,000 stations through its syndicated Premier Radio Networks products. Clear Channel Radio also includes:

* Clear Channel Digital, which develops and operates iHeartRadio, the free, industry-leading digitalradio product that combines access to all of Clear Channel’s live broadcast and digital-only radio stations as well as user-created Custom Stations. Clear Channel Digital also develops the companion digital products for each radio station brand, including strong social components;

* Media Services for the radio, media, digital, mobile and music industries, including Total Traffic Network, a groundbreaking programming and technology service delivering real-time traffic data to vehicles via in-car and portable navigation systems, broadcast media, wireless and Internet-based services; The Katz Media Group, the leading media representation firm in the US for radio and television stations; and RCS, which provides scheduling and broadcast software for radio, internet and television station in addition to research studies that aid the media and music businesses.

Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, which is one of the world’s largest outdoor advertising companies with close to one million displays in over 40 countries across five continents. Clear Channel Outdoor includes:

* Americas Outdoor Advertising, which owns or operates nearly 190,000 displays across the United States, Canada and Latin America including operations in 49 of the 50 largest markets in the United States. The Americas businessconsist of various types of displays that include billboards; street furniture; transit displays; the Clear Channel Airports division, which is the premier innovator of contemporary display concepts and currently operates more than 260 airport programs across the globe; mall displays; wallscapes; and spectaculars including Spectacolor, a market leader in spectacular sign displays, with displays located in New York’s Times Square. The Company has been a leader in the development and operation of digital displays and networks across many of its U.S. markets.

* International Outdoor Advertising operates across Asia, Australia and Europe with displays across nearly 30 countries. The International business consists of street furniture and transit displays, billboards, mall displays, wallscapes and spectaculars. Clear Channel International’s street furniture division operates over 3,500 municipal advertising contracts worldwide.

Pittman will also remain a member of Pilot Group, LLC, a New York-based private investment firm.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to express how delighted I am that Bob has accepted this position,” said Mark Mays, Chairman of Clear Channel Media Holdings. “He has been an invaluable contributor to Clear Channel Radio since last November, and he is the perfect person to take Clear Channel to the next level. I look forward to his leadership of our company.”

“Bob Pittman brings a long history as a brilliant innovator and brand builder — from his days as a very successful radio programmer, creator of MTV and CEO of MTV Networks to his work helping to drive the phenomenal growth of AOL and his successful investments in other digital, media and technology companies. He has already generated a renewed sense of confidence and direction not only at Clear Channel, but across the entire radio and media landscape,” said Scott Sperling, Co-President of THL Partners.

“I’m thrilled we were able recruit Bob into the CEO role at Clear Channel. He is the perfect fit to lead this incredibly powerful media platform. He embraces creativity, and has given employees the motivation and freedom to innovate, take risks and succeed,” said John Connaughton, Managing Director of Bain Capital. “He thinks big, is not afraid of change and is intensely focused on driving new businesses, expanding our creative talent and maximizing the full value of Clear Channel’s extraordinary assets, ideas and people.”

Pittman’s appointment comes on the heels of several industry-leading achievements by Clear Channel Radio this past year. In March, the company acquired digital music company Thumbplay for its state-of-the-art technologies as well as its technology and product teams. Last week, Clear Channel hosted the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the largest live concert event in radio history, which marked the official launch of the New iHeartRadio, which combines more than 850 of the nation’s most popular live broadcast and digital-only radio stations from 150 cities with user-created Custom Stations. iHeartRadio was one of the few highlighted new products at Facebook’s f8 conference on September 22nd, where it was recognized for its technology and cutting-edge social integration.

Additionally, Clear Channel has demonstrated its unique national promotional capabilities through significant relationships with record labels and social media leaders, and forging relationships with partners like Microsoft, Facebook, Zynga, Toyota and HP that reach further and deeper than advertising.

“Over the past year, I’ve had the unique opportunity to look at the Clear Channel people and assets up close and have found myself increasingly drawn to the company, to the point where the chance to get even more deeply involved has just become irresistible,” said Pittman. “I know first-hand that we have great people and the assets that allow them to do great things. 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.”

Pittman continued, “I look forward to continuing to work closely with John Hogan and the Clear Channel Radio team to grow our company as we strengthen relationships with our consumers, advertisers, artists, labels and partners, nationally and locally — and I’m excited by the opportunity to work with Ron Cooper and William Eccleshare to help them make the most of our outdoor advertising potential by tapping into Clear Channel’s assets as a whole. I believe we have the technologies, the physical infrastructure, the content and, most importantly, the people to market to consumers better than any other media company in the world.”

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work