iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman and TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison engaged in an exclusive nine-minute video conversation that debuted during the opening segment (sponsored by Doctor Asa) of TALKERS 2023, the 26th annual edition of the talk media industry’s longest-running and most important conference held June 2 at Hofstra University. In it, Pittman candidly and directly addresses key existential issues pertaining to the talk radio industry as it faces daunting forks in the road. Harrison, who has known Pittman since he was a 20-year-old music director at WMAQ, Chicago in the mid-1970s, asks the chief of radio’s largest firm such questions as, “Do you still have the same passion for radio as I remember you having when we were kids in the business?” “What are iHeart’s intentions for news/talk and sports talk radio within the realm of the company going forward?” “How can radio remain true to its roots and mission as an audio medium and theater-of-the-mind without missing the opportunities provided in a multiplatform environment?” plus more. Pittman says that this is a “golden moment” for both radio and the larger field of audio in which it is and will remain a major player. He pointed out that “25% of iHeart’s stations do not play music” and that more and more shows on the company’s music stations are “actually talk shows that play little or no music at all.” He reaffirmed the company’s awareness that personality plays an important role in the presentation of music and it is its intention to pivot back in that direction. He candidly addressed the divide between the coastal elites who influence the direction of national media but are largely out of touch with the heartland and the rest of real America. The video is now posted and can be viewed here.