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NEW YORK – Former MTV and AOL Time Warner top executive Bob Pittman has made a personal equity investment in radio giant Clear Channel Communications and will serve as its chairman of media and entertainment platforms, working closely with the company’s current management team to drive growth in its radio business.
In his new role role, Pittman will spearhead the development of “a comprehensive, integrated digital strategy for Clear Channel in the radio business,” the company said.
The former CEO of MTV Networks and former COO of America Online and AOL Time Warner has worked mainly as a media and technology investor in recent years and will keep his position as founding member of private equity firm Pilot Group. The Clear Channel role is a return to radio for him though as his first job was as a radio announcer at age 15. Via MTV, his resume also includes music experience that should help in his new position.
Financial details of his investment weren’t disclosed.
The reemergence of Pittman in a prominent industry role follows the recent comeback of another architect of the much-maligned AOL-TW merger, Gerald Levin. The former TW CEO recently joined Oasis TV as a senior adviser and will become the company’s chairman.
“With his background in music, radio and entertainment and track record of success in both traditional and digital media, Bob Pittman will be a terrific ally and contributor to Clear Channel in this new role,” said chairman and CEO Mark Mays.
Clear Channel Radio, led by its president and CEO John Hogan, will report to the recently unveiled operating committee of the board through Pittman.
“Both as a former operating executive and an investor, this is a dream addition to my portfolio,” said Pittman. “The Clear Channel radio stations, with 97 million weekly listeners and high quality programming, provide an ideal foundation for growing the core radio business and expanding those brands and that audience into new services and onto new devices.
He highlighted that the company reaches 12 million unique monthly visitors online, highlighting the opportunity to sign up new advertisers.
Richard Parsons, who was co-COO of AOL TW with Pittman and later head of the entertainment conglomerate before becoming chairman of financial services giant Citigroup, told The Hollywood Reporter he remains friendly with Pittman and knew he was open for a new challenge. “He was looking for something, but only if it really interested him and intrigued him,” Parsons said. “He wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t really intrigued and excited about it.”
Asked about why Pittman is a fit for Clear Channel, Parsons said: “Who better than Bob? He started out in radio, went to television and used that medium for the dissemination of radio content. And then he spent some time with [AOL and] Time Warner and doing more consumer content. So, he touched all the basis that you would want – from radio to TV to the Internt and direct consumer operations. And Bob is a smart guy and has an intuitive gift about where consumers are and what they want.”
Private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2008 led the buyout that took Clear Channel private.
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