RAIN Summit Indy is around the corner, and we booked some phone time with keynoter Darren Davis, president of Clear Channel Networks. Following are excerpts from a conversation with the irrepressibly enthusiastic Mr. Davis.
We asked Darren Davis about the recent re-organization of Clear Channel, which shifted all the iHeartRadio teams into his management. He told us that the re-org finished a re-structuring that started earlier.
“I went to Bob Pittman [Clear Channel CEO] and John Hogan [previous CEO, now Chairman Emeritus] last fall and said, I’d like to put Premiere[Networks] back together. Premiere had a circuitous reporting structure — programming and sales were separated. The affiliate relations team was also separate. I wanted to make it a cohesive organization. Bob said that was a good idea, but here’s a bigger idea: Our opportunity is to put all the netweorks together, and find those synergies. We’re six months into that, and it’s going really well.”
“In Indianapolis we’ll talk about some of the changes I’ve seen here over 22 years, and where I think we’re headed in the next 22.” –Darren Davis, president Clear Channel Networks and RAIN Summit Indy keynote speaker
Davis inherited iHeartRadio’s programming, marketing, and branding teams at that time. More recently, the technical, product, and monetization teams went into his organization also, as previous leader Brian Lakamp was promoted into a different role.
Now that Clear Channel’s major network groups (iHeartRadio, Premiere Networks, Total Traffic and Weather, 24/7 News) have been vertically aligned, we were curious about the integrated advertising opportunities. Darren Davis had a lot to say on that subject.
“Right off the bat we found better ways to leverage talent, combine forces, and supercharge our efforts. We rolled out our targeted networks early on, into position for our advertisers. They make it easy for our sellers to succinctly tell the story of helping an advertiser’s brand. Eight months ago, if an advertiser was trying to attract country fans, for example, we’d say to them ‘We’ve got 120 country stations, and a bunch of web sites…’ Now we can talk about the iHeart Country Network, and everything included in it — 120 stations, plus coverage in our syndicated Country shows in Premiere Networks, plus our Country digital channels and websites. We’ve rolled out those targeted networks for Country, African American, Hispanic, Millennials, Moms, Dads, and a Holiday network. It has been really successful.”
Getting back to iHeartRadio, Davis primed us to expect new development of the app. “The [current] 5.0 version of the iHeart app has our registrations up, and is a much better product than before. People are finding their way through more easily. There’s always another version in the works, on web, mobile, and auto. There’s hardly a day when I don’t have talks about what that ‘next thing’ is.”
He also described the iHeart office as a hotbed of musical activity.
“We have concerts happening here in the iHeartRadio office. We have advantages that Spotify and Pandora don’t have. They don’t have artists coming through the office every day, or many times a day. We have an iHeart Theater in the building where acts perform a few times a week.”
“iHeartRadio is a music company.”
Darren Davis reflected on his long Clear Channel career, and his personal commitment to the company.
“I’ve been with Clear Channel for 22 years, since before we had websites. I’ve watched it grow from our first website all the way to what we have now. It’s finally all in one place, and everyone is on the same team with one goal. I expect to be here for another 22 years.”
“I want people to be excited working here. When they get a recruiting phone call from Apple or Google, I want them to chuckle and think, ‘I wouldn’t dream of going over there. I can’t imagine working anywhere but iHeartRadio.’ That’s been my experience. I can’t imagine not being here.”
In Indianapolis we’ll talk about some of the changes I’ve seen here over 22 years, and where I think we’re headed in the next 22.