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Apple hires terrestrial radio exec to helm iTunes Radio ad sales group

Michael Pallad, formerly senior vice president of National & Network Sales at radio conglomerate Cumulus Media, has begun work at Apple as the head of iTunes Radio's international advertising sales force, according to a new report.

Pallad started work in Cupertino on Dec. 2 and will report to Todd Teresi, vice president of Apple's iAd unit, according to AdAge. Pallad is still listed by Cumulus as a member of the company's executive team, but his personal LinkedIn page has been updated to reflect the move.

According to his Cumulus profile, Pallad has been involved in radio sales since 2003 and left the company as the leader of "all sales operations for Cumulus Media Networks and the company's national sales platform." Cumulus is the nation's second-largest owner of AM and FM radio stations and operates large syndicated radio brands like ABC News Radio, CBS Sports Radio, the American Country Countdown that attract more than 150 million weekly listeners.

AdAge believes Pallad's hiring signals an expansion of Apple's ambitions for advertising on the nascent iTunes Radio platform, which already attracts top brands like Nissan and McDonald's with deals that cost a minimum of $1 million per year.

Adam Shlachter, a senior vice president with global marketing agency DigitasLBi, told the publication that the move "seems like a big bet for [Apple] on going after the radio advertising audience," and that Pallad's experience and industry connections "will only help to continue to make the case for [iTunes Radio] as a viable alternative" for advertising dollars.

Apple launched iTunes Radio alongside iOS 7 in September, and within its first month grew an audience of 20 million users who streamed more than 1 billion songs, though the service's "stickiness" has not yet been established. Despite being branded a "credible threat" by Pandora CFO Michael Herring, one study showed that less than 10 percent of those who used Apple's streaming service then abandoned the alternatives.