Robert Pittman
Pittman at 2018 Interbrand Best Global Brands Summit
Robert Warren Pittman

(1953-12-28) December 28, 1953 (age 70)
Jackson, Mississippi, United States
Known forMTV
SpouseVeronique Choa Pittman

Robert Warren Pittman (born December 28, 1953) is an American businessman. Pittman was the CEO of MTV Networks and the cofounder and programmer who led the team that created MTV,[1] and is the cofounder of iHeartMedia and Casa Dragones Tequila.[2] Pittman joined iHeartMedia's predecessor company Clear Channel in November 2010 as an investor and the company's Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms, was named CEO in 2011 and chairman in 2013. Pittman led Clear Channel's transformation into iHeartMedia, Inc. in September 2014 to reflect its new multiplatform business and expanded mission. Pittman has also been the former chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor, CEO of AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate and Time Warner Enterprises, and COO of America Online, Inc. and AOL Time Warner.

Pittman 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 is genuinely an entrepreneur. In giving him its first 'Media Visionary" award, advertising publication Adweek[3] referred to him as a "jack of all media" and former MTV executive Tom Freston referred to him as "the wonder boy of branding".


Early life

The son of a Methodist minister, Pittman was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but raised in Hattiesburg and Brookhaven, where he attended Brookhaven High School and became a radio announcer at the age of 15 to earn money for flying lessons. He was an announcer in a number of cities and then successfully programmed radio stations in Pittsburgh, Chicago (WMAQ AM 670 and WKQX FM) and finally at the NBC flagship station, WNBC (AM), in New York when he was 23. 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 50 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 three types of jets.

MTV Years

At Warner Amex, he oversaw the creation and growth of MTV and the transition of Nickelodeon from a failing network geared to preschoolers to the highest-rated channel 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-Warner Communications' 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.[1] During his tenure at MTV, the network was criticized harshly for its initial reluctance to play videos from African American artists.[5] During Pittman's tenure, MTV responded to this criticism by Rick James by actively soliciting and championing videos by Black artists, including Michael Jackson and Tina Turner, and later launched Yo! MTV Raps to introduce rap music to the MTV audience. During Pittman's time at MTV the channel also launched what became an extremely successful live event business—broadcasting the entire groundbreaking Live Aid global concert for Ethiopian famine relief on June 13, 1985, and launching the MTV Video Music Awards show in 1984. 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] In 2023, Grunge Magazine named Pittman "One of the Unsung Heroes of Modern Pop Music," someone who made "contributions to popular music that were utterly, ridiculously game-changing"[7] for the innovations he made to the music industry and popular culture as a co-founder of MTV. Pittman also received a 1984 Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Award in recognition of MTV's impact on fashion and popular culture.

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). The company was founded in 1986, and it was initially bankrolled by MCA to handle the record labels of the company.[8] As described in the October 15, 2020, episode of his podcast Math & Magic, in 1987 this joint venture company built an equity stake in the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency with the goal of acquiring the company, but – after briefly discussing joining forces with Sir Martin Sorrell, founder of WPP, lost to him just as he was beginning to build his company. In 1989, Pittman 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] Pittman and his team grew Century 21 Real Estate through a strategy that 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 and CEO 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; and continued the mission of making the Internet as easy for consumers to use as the telephone or television. During Pittman's tenure, AOL had almost 50% of all Internet traffic in the U.S. and pioneered the development of digital advertising. 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.[12]

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 Group previously owned and sold investments including Thrillist, which is now part of Group Nine Media and in which Pilot Group is still a minority investor; DailyCandy, sold to Comcast Ventures for a reported $125 million;[13][14] IdealBite, which was sold to the Walt Disney Company; and entertainment research company OTX (sold to Ipsos America).[15] Pilot also owned and sold significant minority investments in David's Bridal and Nutrisystem, and owned and sold the Barrington Broadcasting television group to Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2013 for $370 million and its radio station group Double O Radio to a variety of regional radio station groups including Town Square Media. Pilot and Pittman have also held various minority positions in digital content and technology venture companies including social gaming company Zynga, in which Pilot was an early investor; Huffington Post and Facebook. In April 2018, Pilot Group sold its stake in Casa Dragones tequila brand to BDT Capital Partners LLC — Warren Buffett's banker—which is taking the lead investor role and providing capital to take Casa Dragones to the next level—although Pittman, as the co-founder, maintained his personal stake and remains on the board.

Clear Channel Media Holdings, Inc. and iHeartMedia, 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.[16] 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 iHeartRadio digital radio platform. At this time, the company was burdened with $20 billion in debt as the result of a 2008 leveraged buyout. In September 2014, Pittman led the company's transformation to iHeartMedia, Inc. to better reflect the company's multi-platform focus. Today Pittman is chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc., with multi-platform assets across broadcast radio; digital; podcasting; mobile; social; data; and live events. Under Pittman's leadership the company's debt was significantly reduced—from $16.1 billion to $5.75 billion—and the company emerged from restructuring in May 2019.[17] At that time, T. Rowe Price referenced the company as one that had been revived by disruptive change. iHeartMedia, Inc. is now the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher globally, and in October 2018 closed its acquisition of podcasting pioneer Stuff Media, LLC, the leading for-profit publisher of entertaining and informative podcast content, which includes the HowStuffWorks (HSW) brand and content.[18] Pittman 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 in conjunction with the launch of the New iHeartRadio.[19] The company has since expanded its national tentpole live events platform to include the nationally televised iHeartRadio Music Awards; the iHeartCountry Festival; iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina; the iHeartRadio Podcast Awards; iHeartRadio ALTer Ego and the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour. In December 2016, the company launched its two new on demand subscription platforms, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access.

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 Postʽs media business expert Charles Warner dubbed him “best radio programmer ever”[20] 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.[21] Pittman retained that designation in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, and was also named Radio Ink's 2019 Radio Executive of the Year.

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.[22][23] He is also on the boards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and is a former board member of the non-profit Lupus Research Alliance, the New York City Ballet, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, New York University Medical Center and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Pittman has also served on the boards of companies including Electronic Arts, Atari Games, Excite, 3DO, MTV Networks, America Online, HFS/Cendant/Realogy and AOL Time Warner.

Pittman was one of the minority owners of the New York Mets, holding a 4% stake in the baseball team,[24] before selling his interest to Steven Cohen in 2020.

Awards and honors

Pittman's many honors include: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial's 2000 “Ripple of Hope Award”[25] for his commitment to civic and community affairs and his contributions to the advancement of education; receiving the Broadcasters Foundation of America's 2016 'Golden Mike Award'; induction into the Advertising Hall of Fame and the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame; received Adweek’s first Media Visionary award in 2013 and 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"; received the "Star of Hope Award” in January 2014 from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi; was 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. In October 2012, he was awarded the Henry A. Grunwald Award for Public Service by Lighthouse International. He also received the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award in 1990;[26] 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.

"Math & Magic" podcast

On May 4th, 2019, Pittman announced his podcast "Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing."[27] The show is produced by iHeartRadio.

Personal life

Pittman married Sandy Hill, a merchandise editor at Mademoiselle, in July 1979; they divorced in 1997. They have one son. Pittman married Veronique Choa in 1997. They have two children.


  1. ^ a b Cuff, Daniel F. (March 23, 1990). "BUSINESS PEOPLE; Time Warner Adviser Named Chief of Unit". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Beauty and the Brains Behind Casa Dragones Tequila". Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "MTV Founder Bob Pittman Is Our First Media Visionary". December 16, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Allen, Jamie. "MTV: Rewinding 20 years of music revolution - August 1, 2001". CNN. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "1983 SPECIAL REPORT: "MTV DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BLACK ARTIST"". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
  6. ^ "10 Marketers Who Transformed American Culture". September 6, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Floorwalker, Mike (May 29, 2023). "Unsung Heroes of Modern Pop Music". Retrieved May 30, 2023.
  8. ^ "Pittman And MCA To Form Joint Co.; Record Label First". Variety. September 3, 1986. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Wanted at AOL: Another Bob Pittman". Bloomberg. July 18, 2002. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  10. ^ "Six Flags Theme Parks, Inc". Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  11. ^ "LA Times coverage of Pittman as Century 21 CEO". Los Angeles Times. August 2, 1995. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  12. ^ Harmon, Amy; Kuczynski, Alex (January 12, 2000). "MEDIA MEGADEAL: THE CULTURES; A Bridge Builder For Corporate Culture". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  13. ^ Kumar, Vishesh (August 6, 2008). "Comcast Sets Deal to Buy Daily Candy". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  14. ^ "Comcast to Buy Daily Candy for $125 Million". DealBook. August 5, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  15. ^ Wrap Staff (January 28, 2010). "Ipsos Buys Online Research Firm OTX". The Wrap. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  16. ^ "A media veteran joins Clear Channel". The New York Times. November 15, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  17. ^ "iHeartMedia Successfully Completes Restructuring Process". Bloomberg. May 2019. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  18. ^ "iHeartMedia to Buy HowStuffWorks Podcasting Parent for $55 Million". Variety. September 13, 2018. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  19. ^ "Breaking News". USA Today. September 23, 2011. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  20. ^ Warner, Charles (March 23, 2011). "Bob Pittman Is Just What Radio Needs". HuffPost. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  21. ^ "40 Most Powerful Issue One Week Away". Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  22. ^ "Robin Hood Foundation Governance". October 9, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  23. ^ "Public Theater Board of Trustees". Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  24. ^ Brian Costa (March 20, 2012). "Meet the Mets (Minority Owners): Bob Pittman, Kenneth Lerer". Wall Street Journal.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  27. ^ "Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing with Bob Pittman". Podchaser. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
Preceded byBarry Schuler CEO of AOL 2002 Succeeded byJonathan Miller