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Clear Channel Hires Sprint Nextel Exec to Lead iHeartRadio Marketing

Custom Stations to Remain Commercial-Free Through First Quarter of 2012

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Radio giant Clear Channel has named Bob Stohrer to a newly created position of CMO-digital, where he will lead all marketing activities for the company's digital radio service iHeartRadio.

Mr. Stohrer was most recently VP-corporate marketing at Sprint Nextel, where he oversaw marketing of the prepaid mobile phone group, which operates brands such as Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile. Before that Mr. Stohrer was CMO for Virgin Mobile USA, which was acquired by Sprint Nextel in 2009.

Bob Stohrer
Bob Stohrer

"I'm incredibly excited for the opportunity to build on the momentum that the iHeartRadio brand has already and ultimately create something that transcends the digital music space," Mr. Stohrer said in an interview Friday.

Clear Channel initially launched IHeartRadio as a mobile app and web service that live-streamed hundreds of the company's radio stations. But in September, the company added the ability for users to create custom stations, like Pandora and Spotify.

"I think Spotify and Pandora are just one piece of iHeartRadio," said Bob Pittman, CEO of CC Media Holdings, Clear Channel Radio's parent company. "What you have here is an all-in-one product, where you can seamlessly go between radio stations and your custom stations."

Clear Channel recently announced that its custom stations would remain commercial-free through the first quarter of 2012 as it determines how best to incorporate marketers into the service. Mr. Stohrer didn't disclose specific monetization ideas but said that the company has the luxury of exploring nontraditional advertising partnerships because of the scope of its business.

"Unlike our competitors, we're not in this transactional advertising space where we're selling a single product," Mr. Stohrer said. "We really have the opportunity to be inventive and connect consumers to brands in a way that 's meaningful to both parties."

Mr. Stohrer said at the core of any marketing strategy will be two things that Pandora and Spotify lack: Clear Channel's radio stations and their on-air personalities. Live music events will also continue to be key for user acquisition, building on the iHeartRadio Music Festival, a two-day event in September that featured performances by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Coldplay and others.

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