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Robert Pittman (media executive)

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Robert Pittman (media executive)

Robert W. "Bob" Pittman
Pittman on July 20, 2011
Born (1953-12-28) December 28, 1953 (age 60)
Jackson, Mississippi, USA
Nationality USA
Occupation businessman
Known for MTV
Spouse(s) Veronique Choa (graphic designer)1997 - Present

Robert Warren "Bob" Pittman (born December 28, 1953), is an American businessman and the founder of MTV.[1] On October 2, 2011, Pittman was named President and CEO of Clear Channel Communications.[2] Pittman has also been the CEO of MTV Networks, AOL, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate and Time Warner Enterprises, and COO of America Online, Inc. and AOL Time Warner.

He has also been a radio and TV programmer, marketer, investor and media entrepreneur who has had multiple careers in a number of consumer-focused industries. According to Sean Parker, Pittman is the only media mogul who’s genuinely an entrepreneur.


Early life

Son of a Methodist minister, Pittman was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but raised in Brookhaven and became a radio announcer at the age of 15 to earn money for flying lessons.[3] He was an announcer in a number of cities and then successfully programmed radio stations in Pittsburgh, Chicago and finally at the NBC flagship station, WNBC, in New York when he was 23 years old. He also produced and co-hosted a music video and news show in 1978 that ran on NBC's O&O television stations. He did learn to fly, and has been a pilot for almost 40 years: He now has over 6,000 flight hours; currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot's license for airplanes; and is rated for helicopters and 3 types of jets.

MTV Years

At MTV, he oversaw the creation and growth of MTV and the transition of Nickelodeon from a network geared to preschoolers to one aimed at older kids as well as overseeing the launches of VH-1 and Nick at Nite, and led the initial public offering for MTV Networks and its expansion into international markets.[4] Under Pittman's leadership, MTV became the first profitable cable network; then-Time Warner Co-Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ross also noted that MTV became the most profitable basic cable network during Pittman's tenure there.[5] For his development of the MTV brand, Advertising Age selected Pittman in 2010 as one of the ten most influential marketers who transformed American Culture.[6]

Quantum Media and Time Warner

After MTV, Pittman founded Quantum Media with MCA (one of the company's ventures was the Morton Downey Jr. show, an early television shock talk show), and in 1989, he bought out MCA, sold the assets to Warner Communications and became senior advisor to Warner Communications CEO Steve Ross just as Warner was merging with Time Inc. to create Time Warner.[7] In 1990, Pittman was appointed President and CEO of Time Warner Enterprises, the new business group of Time Warner, and in 1991 became Chairman and CEO of Six Flags Theme Parks where his team oversaw the revitalization of the Six Flags brand, taking attendance from 17 million to 25 million using a “classic second-place strategy” with their “Bigger than Disneyland, closer to home” positioning of the brand.[8]

Century 21 Real Estate

After Pittman led a process that led to Time Warner selling a controlling interest in Six Flags to Boston Ventures in 1995, he left to join Century 21 Real Estate as CEO. Pittman and his team grew Century 21 Real Estate through a strategy which included brand-building and national marketing, a new franchise sales organization, and the early adoption of the Internet as a lead-generating tool.

America Online and AOL Time Warner

While at Century 21, Pittman met Steve Case and joined the board of directors of America Online, Inc.; he joined the company as president of AOL Networks in 1996 and later became President and COO of America Online Inc. While at AOL, Pittman led the operating team that moved AOL from 6 million members to over 30 million; took the company profitable; introduced mass market advertising as a revenue source; and continued the mission of making the Internet as easy for consumers to use as the telephone or television. The company’s most memorable ad of that time had the tagline “America Online: So Easy To Use, No Wonder It’s Number One”. After AOL merged with Time Warner in 2001, Pittman became the Co-COO (and eventually COO) of the combined AOL Time Warner before leaving the company in 2002.[9]

Pilot Group

Pittman joined a number of his longtime operating team colleagues when he co-founded Pilot Group LLC, a private investment firm based New York in 2003. Pilot and its members have controlling investments in Thrillist, TrialPay.

Pilot Group previously sold investments that include Stereogum and IdealBite, and in August 2008, Pilot Group sold DailyCandy, its initial investment, to Comcast for a reported $125 million.[12][13] In January 2010, International market-research firm Ipsos acquired OTX Research from Pilot.[14]

Clear Channel Media Holdings, Inc.

In November 2010, Pittman took on the role of Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms for Clear Channel and made a personal equity investment in the Company. In this role, Pittman worked to leverage the Company's media assets and spearhead the further development of a digital strategy for Clear Channel Radio, particularly with regard to its New iHeartRadio digital radio product. Pittman also played a pivotal role in developing the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the biggest live concert festival in radio history, the first of which took place in Las Vegas on September 23–24, 2011.[15]

Bob Pittman is Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings and Executive Chairman of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, and originally served as Chairman of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment Platforms from November 2011 – October 2012. In this role, Pittman oversees all of the company's global media properties including broadcast, digital and mobile, syndication, media representation and Outdoor.

In conjunction with this position, Pittman also maintains his role as Founding Member of Pilot Group and continues his activities as a venture investor; in an indication of his continued interest in emerging technologies and businesses, he also serves on the board of live social video company Airtime. With his return to radio, Huffington Post’s media business expert Charles Warner dubbed him “best radio programmer ever”[16] and in 2011 he was ranked by Radio Ink magazine as the "Most Powerful Man in Radio." "Never before has anyone taken the number one slot on the list in their inaugural year," stated Radio Ink Publisher/CEO B. Eric Rhoads.[17] Pittman retained that designation in 2012.

Recent years

Pittman is a philanthropist, building community and philanthropic projects into businesses he managed from Live Aid at MTV to educational efforts using the Internet at AOL. He is former chairman of the non-profit Robin Hood Foundation, which fights poverty in New York City, and still serves on the board; and is former chairman of the New York Public Theater. He is also on the boards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Alliance for Lupus Research and the New York City Ballet. He is a former board member of Electronic Arts, Atari Games, Excite, 3DO, MTV Networks, America Online, HFS/Cendant/Realogy, NYU Medical Center, and AOL Time Warner.

Pittman is one of the minority owners of the New York Mets, holding a 4% stake in the baseball team.

The following link is a recent Q and A with Pittman in The Hollywood Reporter:

Awards and honors

Pittman's many honors include: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial’s 2000 “Ripple of Hope Award”[18] for his commitment to civic and community affairs and his contributions to the advancement of education; induction into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1999; Cablevision Magazine's "20/20 Vision" award for the 20 people who have had the greatest impact on the cable industry; selection as one of Advertising Age's "10 Marketers Who Changed American Culture” and "50 Pioneers and Visionaries of TV" and recognition as one of Business Week magazine's Top 25 Executives of 1998. He was also named one of Life Magazine's "Five Original Thinkers of the '80s"; recognized as the eighth of Life Magazine's "50 Most Influential Boomers"; included in Time Magazine's 1984 Man-of-the-Year issue "Seven Others who Succeeded"; named Success Magazine’s “Pioneer of the New American Start-Up” in 1989; received the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence and the 1984 Council of Fashion Designers of America award; Performance Magazine’s 1982 “Innovator of the Year” award for his work developing MTV and Billboard Magazine’s “Radio Program Manager of the Year” in 1977. He also received the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate award; International Teleproduction Society’s Lifetime Achievement International Monitor Award and The President's Award and an Honorary Doctorate from Bank Street College of Education the school's highest honor for his many contributions to the advancement of education.

Personal life

Pittman married Sandy Hill, a merchandise editor at Mademoiselle and mountaineer, in July 1979; they divorced in 1997. They have one son.[19] He married Veronique Choa, a graphic designer, in 1997; they have two children.


External links

  • Bloomberg/Lessons from media pioneer Bob Pittman
  • "AOL banks on new CEO Pittman's Midas touch"
  • Buzzco & MTV. From Frederator Blogs September 2, 2007
  • Bob Pittman. From Frederator Blogs September 5, 2006
  • The museum of broadcast communications
  • Media Megadeal: The Cultures; A Bridge Builder For Corporate Culture
  • "Robert Pittman Begins a New Music Channel"
  • "Comcast to Buy Daily Candy for $125 Million"
  • "Comcast Sets Deal to Buy Daily Candy"
  • A Guide To New Food Sites
  • "What Will Stimulate Spending? Advertising!"
  • "10th Anniversary of the AOL-Time Warner Merger"
  • "Bob Pittman, Joe Einhorn, and Justin Shaffer"
  • "Invierte en agave creador de MTV"
  • "Tasting Table Is The Daily Candy For Foodies"
  • "10 Marketers Who Transformed American Culture"
  • "Forget Pandora, Will Clear Channel Crush Sirius?"
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