Pittman: Local Matters


The iHeart CEO was asked a question about localism during the Thursday night earnings call. Pittman frequently talks about how radio is the listener’s companion. An analyst asked if companionship meant being local, and did iHeart’s emphasis on technology get away from being local, harming audience levels.

Pittman said being local matters a lot and companionship is very important. “The number one job of programmers, no matter where we’re using them from, is getting integrated into the local community and talking about things that are relevant and interesting to the people.”

And, Pittman pointed out that getting integrated into the community doesn’t always mean there has to be a host sitting in every studio. “We have taken some of our best talent — Elvis Duran, The Breakfast Club, Bobby Bones, Ryan Seacrest — and put them on multiple stations, because we find that they can integrate themselves into the community. And the quality they provide is a ratings enhancer and also enhances that companionship relationship with the consumer. We continue to do that, and we have a lot of great talent in this company whose names you might not recognize, but are equally as powerful in the community they’re in. And our job is to continue to look for that and continue to serve the community. To the listeners, it is local. It will continue to be local. That’s probably the most important relationship to have.”


  1. The point is quality. Do we still have local broadcasters that can take content of specific interest to their individual markets and make that at least as interesting and captivating as any national story delivered by a well-equipped national talent?

  2. Local really! Those syndicated shows can relate to their audience if they are not from. For example the breakfast Club those guys are not from my city which is Detroit, so how can you relate to us?

  3. Radio, as a broad generalization, is now bereft of effective local talent.
    As a result, many attempts to localize would be met with questionable results, along with amped-up expenses.
    What, in the past, has made radio a particularly unique medium has been the capacity of a local market to claim local personalities as their fave-raves – regardless of the content that is being supplied at any given time.
    More and more of those listener-opportunities are being eliminated, and systematically so. And it shows.
    What else can owners and managers expect from such paltry and degrading treatment of their local audiences?

  4. If someone hates Trump’s guts so much that they go into a rage hearing anything about him in their day. And they hear the latest about him from a jock that’s 1000 miles away, is that not local? It’s local to the Trump hater because that’s their biggest interest (or at least high interest). On the other hand they could hear something about their local mayor doing something uninteresting and could care less. Is that local? Or just something boring to them? I think the today’s actual definition of ‘local’ is…..’of local interest’. That can come from anywhere.

    • Pat, for the last 70+ years, the terms “syndicated” or “national” personality are defined as just that– syndicated or national programming. Local programming or content is defined by a broadcast eminatimg from a LOCAL personality!
      Please do not be pulling a Pittman here, trying to re-define the English language. Lol.

    • Pat, by your definition of the term “local”, reports of a town’s food bank shortages are not local news, the bond issue to purchase resuscitators and epipens for the county fire and rescue district is not a local story, but the latest Kanye West gossip is local news and so is the dirt on the former “royals”.

      I don’t know who you are, but the opinion and attitude you hold, multiplied in the minds of corporate broadcast executives, is at the heart of radio’s crisis of respect and survival.

  5. In fact, if an iHeart sales rep went into an agency or even a direct account, and tried to represent syndicated or voice-tracked content as local – as Pittman is doing – that rep would look like a fool. Or worse.

  6. Seriously, does Pittman think everyone is stupid?? He references syndicated/voice-tracked iHeart personalities here, maintaining that they are “local” to the listeners. Huh??? What???
    Someone needs to buy Pittman a dictionary, so he understands the meaning of the words “local,” “syndicated”, and “voice-tracked.”


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