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iHeartMedia But What About Radio?

Lance's Line RadioInsight Blog
IHeartMedia IHeart Media Clear Channel Entertainment Radio Bob PittmanClear Channel Media + Entertainment is a thing of the past.

The company was founded as San Antonio Broadcasting Company in 1972 by Lowry Mays and Red McCombs with the purchase of a San Antonio station that today is Country “KJ97” KAJA. Following the purchase of 1200 WOAI in 1975 the company took the name of the term for the 50kW AM stations without any other signals allowed to broadcast enabling coverage over wide areas at night. After using the deregulation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to gradually swallow up competitors such as Jacor and AMFM, Clear Channel had established itself as the largest operator of radio stations by a wide margin.

It wasn’t until 2008 when the company launched the iHeartRadio streaming platform and app. That led to multiple concerts and award shows utilizing the iHeartRadio brand nationally. And just six years later the streaming platform has become so important to the future of the company that it is becoming the primary name and function of the newly minted iHeartMedia, Inc.

With over $20 billion in debt IHearMedia needs to deliver a new story to investors. Out with the old stodgy radio name, in with the new hip digital media name. Look at how the name change is being spun:

Even CEO Bob Pittman said as much, telling the Los Angeles Times, “We have a company that’s doing progressive stuff, and yet we’re named after AM radio stations.

But what happens to the 800+ radio stations IHeartMedia operates? While some of them could be used to help pair down the very high debt the company owes, the company has shown no rush to do so. Instead of selling off WALK AM/FM out of the Aloha Stations Trust, the company opted to trade them for 29 additional stations.

The radio stations and Premiere Radio Networks will continue to serve their purpose producing local and national content for distribution. No matter how much reach the company cites as having, it requires the radio side for the bulk of it. Plus all those HD subchannels serve a great purpose allowing iHeartMedia from having to pay internet royalty rates for their programmed streams.

The Clear Channel name is not completely extinct as it remains in use at the outdoor display advertising company spun-off from the media company in 2005.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

4 Comments

  1. Profile photo of joseph_gallant


    Some of the subsidiary companies might be renamed “iHeart” as well (i.e., iHeartNetworks instead of Premiere Networks, etc.)

  2. Profile photo of homerjay


    “Might” doesn’t go very far out on a limb. They might not, too.

  3. Profile photo of Sami Dee


    Hmmmm…could this explain the whole royalty hike scare back in 2007 for independent internet radio broadcasters so that CrookChannel can have all the internet broadcasting access to themselves?

  4. Profile photo of Curt Schwarzwalder


    The internet radio royalty loophole is why every iHeart format is on an HD subchannel on exactly one of their stations. I’m sure the All-Michael Jackson channel is not on KOLZ-HD2 Cheyenne, Wyoming because it has particular local appeal there!

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