Clear Channel's Pittman Talks Pandora
March 11, 2011

Clear Channel Chairman of Media & Entertainment Bob Pittman spoke Wednesday at the Credit Suisse Investor Conference in Miami, and dedicated much of his speech to explaining the differences between radio and newer digital technologies. According to, Pittman said, "Radio is quite different than playlists or music lockers. Typically people have had their radio they love and they’ve had their music collection. Things haven’t changed. They still have a music collection and they have the radio stations. One is programmed for them, one is where I program stuff myself and look through it and play it and have specific interests."

Pittman took multiple opportunities to differentiate radio from Pandora, noting that "What makes radio different than custom radio – a Pandora-like service, playlist, or music locker, Spotify, etc. – is that radio’s curated and dynamically changes. What that means is we have to do an enormous amount of research every week to understand who that tribe is we’re programming to and what their tastes are. And guess what – those tastes change every week." He continued, "So as you’re getting tired of a certain song, it begins to disappear. As you discover a new song, miraculously it appears and starts being played more and more. And every week, every month, every year the station is constantly changing in reaction to changing consumer tastes."

Pittman added that Pandora is essentially just a "playlist," similiar to what you'd make for your own iPod. "Remember how great it was for a while, but over time you got sick of listening to your own playlist. It burns out. That’s exactly what happens here, because what you’re going to find with Pandora, or even with our service as well, it’s a shortcut to create a playlist. You’re putting in a song. It creates a playlist. It’s a benefit – I’m not knocking it – it’s good, but it ain’t radio. You create a playlist and then the songs are put on constant shuffle, to use the iPod analogy, but it constantly shuffles songs that are the same group of songs," Pittman said. "And if your tastes change or you get tired of that new Lady Gaga song, it’s still there. And if a new song appears, guess what, it doesn’t show up there. So what you do is you go create another playlist – and another one."

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Mark Adams
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