Former AOL topper Harrison will head new initiative

Clear Channel Radio is making a significant investment in its online operations in a bid to compete more aggressively in the thriving Internet music space.

Radio giant lured AOL Music topper Evan Harrison to head the new initiative, which will bring Clear Channel into competition with hire’s old employer and other big players such as Yahoo! Launch.

Company’s looking to greatly expand its stations’ Web sites to include musicvideos, online-only stations and other exclusive content.

It’s all intended to bring more dollars from the booming Internet advertising space to Clear Channel, which is facing troubles in the largely stagnant radio biz and thus far hasn’t competed aggressively online.

“My focus is going to be on beefing up the programming so we can attract more online advertising,” Harrison explained. “We have over 100 million listeners each week, many of whom have a devout relationship with their local station that can translate online.”

Currently, only about 200 of Clear Channel’s 1,200 stations even offer an online feed of their radio broadcasts.

Harrison is hoping to produce new content that can be scaled across Clear Channel’s network, such as taping in-station appearances by artists and broadcasting them on numerous stations’ Web sites.

New programming will let Clear Channel profit from online audio and video sponsorships, the fastest-growing part of the Internet ad market.

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