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. According to Arbitron, ARB -0.42% weekly listening has grown in the past decade to 242 million people from 224 million.
Mr. Pittman has been touring the country talking up radio and schmoozing advertisers with a series of “show business” events. He recently co-hosted a cocktail party for advertisers with consulting firm Medialink, featuring a performance by Stevie Nicks. Plotting a promotional blitz for its digital site iHeartRadio, Mr. Pittman splurged on a two-day concert to showcase “the power we have.”
"I said, ‘Why act like a start-up?’ We need something that blows everyone’s mind," he said.
To capture bigger advertisers who have traditionally seen radio as purely a local medium, the company is using its scale to pitch for national business. For American Express Co.’s AXP -0.99% Small Business Saturday event to promote local shopping, Clear Channel crafted a national campaign with customized ads in 150 markets. It isn’t an easy goal. While Clear Channel has built a national infrastructure, each campaign has to be painstakingly stitched together.