How does Bob Pittman feel about the state of radio? The iHeartMedia CEO sat down with the New York Post’s On The Money writer Lydia Moynihan for an interview that covered radio going toe to toe with streaming, the future of events, and what keeps him awake at night.
Moynihan opened by asking why people still need radio in a world where all cars can connect to Bluetooth, to which Pittman replied, “Radio is as strong as ever.” Compared to Spotify and Apple Music, radio isn’t, “competitive with the music services – we’re synergistic. The consumer uses us both.”
“When people listen to the radio, they’re joining the world. With us, they’re looking for connection, companionship, and someone to hang out with, and that’s our purpose – even though we may also be playing music on some of our radio stations,” he said.
Next, Moynihan commented on how iHeart competes against companies with massive budgets like Apple and Spotify. She asked if ever Pittman planned to stop broadcasting and use the broadcasting spectrum for other purposes.
To this, Pittman talked more about another one of radio’s biggest strengths – reach. “90% of Americans listen to iHeart broadcast radio stations every month. To put that in context, the biggest TV network reaches less than 40% of Americans and the big streaming music services reach less than 30%,” he said. He also praised the company’s digital audio wing, especially with podcasts.
Throughout the rest of the interview, the duo discussed the future of live events. Pittman argued that no matter what trends the future holds, creating significant cultural experiences will always fans together to share their love for music and artists. On the subject of events, he also expressed his love for Burning Man and how it gives him his creativity.
When asked about what keeps him up at night when it comes to radio, Pittman closed by saying, “What keeps me up at night is what I don’t know. What is the unexpected that is lurking out there? Are there early warning signs that I am staring at, but don’t see? We can plan for the expected – it is the unexpected that requires enormous nimbleness and a wildly open mind to see and solve for.”