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On the heels of Entercom securing full control of podcast studio Cadence13 and buying podcast creator Pineapple Street Studios, the company has just brought a new chief marketing officer on board. Paul Suchman says he’s a “huge fan” of audio mediums, especially podcasts and AM radio. More importantly, Suchman has deep ad agency expertise and understands how marketers think, which could go a long way to help elevate the audio medium on Madison Avenue.

Schulman comes on board at radio’s second largest company as brands are scrutinizing the effectiveness of their media mix and questioning areas where they may have overinvested. At the same time, some media channels are “under siege,” Suchman says. TV viewership is declining, even as prices are going up, and digital and social have huge brand safety and efficacy issues. “All of that presents a huge opportunity for audio to grow its share of the media mix,” Suchman told Inside Radio in an exclusive interview. While new to the medium, based on initial conversations he’s had with advertisers and agencies, Suchman says he’s seeing “more and more brands, advertisers, content creators and agencies more open and excited about radio and audio conversations than they ever have before. And that’s just fantastic.”

Like his new boss, Entercom President & CEO David Field, Suchman believes radio is “undervalued” by advertisers, based on its low cost, high reach and effectiveness. “Audio is a critical part of the media mix in the modern age. You have massive reach coupled with very focused targeting and highly personal delivery.”

No stranger to Madison Avenue, Suchman was Managing Director of BBDO and worked at WPP’s Ogilvy New York and Los Angeles offices, Agency.com and Lippincott. Agencies today are “under a lot of pressure” to deliver value to their clients, he explains, many of which have brought duties traditionally done by their agency in-house. “I don’t believe that audio/radio has been as much of a go-to tool in the agency toolkit as it needs to be, as it should be and it can be right now,” he says. Part of that is on the industry, which he says hasn’t consistently invested in promoting itself to advertisers and agencies. “There are exceptional players across the audio and radio industry that are doing that,” he says, singling out iHeartMedia and Spotify, among others. “We have an amazing story to tell, both an industry story and an Entercom story,” one where the main characters are scale, products, innovation, ROI and, increasingly, data and analytics to measure campaign performance and deliver ROI. 

Suchman succeeds Ruth Gaviriawho exited in January. He says he was attracted to Entercom by “the vision and the innovative thinking” of Field and his executive team, along with the company’s ecosystem: a local presence in the top 60 markets, scale, “a killer digital strategy,” a growing portfolio of podcasts, the launch of a sports digital network, live events and the company’s Advanced Audio data and analytics products. 

He believes there is a “perfect storm” forming that can help propel audio to a higher place in the media world, pointing to the fact that people are spending more time in their cars, while smartphones and Bluetooth technology are creating new listening opportunities. And the industry finally has the ability to demonstrate its impact on purchase decisions. 

“We're at the beginning of a really good long run-up for audio,” he predicts. “What radio offers that other mediums cannot is it’s so personal, so deeply engaging, it creates this powerful intimate opportunity for brands that other mediums simply can’t. Audio has the opportunity to be the break-out media. And that's the story we need to tell to advertisers.”