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Bob Pittman Quickly Puts His Internet Expertise to Work For Clear Channel.

March 1, 2011

by Ed Ryan

You have to think that radio traditionalists may be having a problem with the latest move by Clear Channel. It's a push pull kind of situation right now. Radio people are in the business of programming radio stations so enough listeners will lead to gobs and gobs of advertising revenue. Smart radio people also realize the need to stay ahead of the Internet curve. Consumers want more than a pre-programmed music station filled with (don't kill the messenger) way too many commercials. Models such as Pandora and Slacker are popular. The unknown is revenue. Can this model create gobs and gobs of money? We shall see.

The latest Clear Channel move, obviously has Robert Pittman's paw prints all over it. And, the announcement they made yesterday was so important to Clear Channel it triggered a very aggressive triple-pronged high-octane get-the-word-out campaign. (See how the New York Times played it HERE.) Clear Channel wil use technology from Thumbplay to do much more than its iHeartradio service was providing. iHeartradio focused on providing listeners with access to all 750 Clear Channel Radio stations. If the consumer was interested in a service that provided more, iHeartradio fell short. Now, with the addition of Thumbplay, Clear Channel may be able to compete more with the likes of Pandora and Slacker. It will allow listeners to create their own radio stations.

Thumbplay touts millions of songs, the ability to import from iTunes and create playlists, therefore listeners are no longer locked in to listening to what a Radio station plays. They can have both. And as consumers lean more toward creating their own playlists and themed stations, iHeartradio becomes another player in that space.  Pittman says “The acquisition is a key element in Clear Channel Radio’s aggressive digital strategy. He says when you add Clear Channel’s promotional power to reach 228 million people on a monthly basis, and you have a combination nobody else can match.”

Michael Robertson who recently launched told Radio Ink this was a smart move by Clear Channel. "All the significant growth opportunity is in the digital side of the audio business. Traditional radio station companies must acquire the expertise if they're going to compete in the digital realm. Seems like a savvy move by Clear Channel."


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