Engler, Clear Channel Communications part ways

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Rich Engler, a man whose name is still synonymous with rock 'n' roll concert promotion in Pittsburgh after 30 years, apparently has parted company with Clear Channel Entertainment Pittsburgh, where he served as president and CEO.

He would not comment on the development, nor would Clear Channel officials.

Engler was a drummer who got his start in the business three decades ago by offering other local acts the shows his band, Grains of Sand, couldn't play. He started an entertainment agency called Go Attractions, which booked such 1970s icons as Lou Reed and David Bowie.

By 1973, he was doing well enough on his own that he got a call from local promoter Pat DiCesare. The following year, they formed a partnership, DiCesare-Engler, drawing record numbers -- more than 40,000 people at $10 each -- to Three Rivers Stadium for a five-hour concert topped by Eric Clapton, The Band and Todd Rundgren.

And for 25-plus years, the stars kept coming, from The Who to Paul McCartney, earning what DiCesare has been known to refer to in passing as "millions."

One of the partnership's proudest accomplishments was taking the Stanley Theatre from a dying movie house to an award-winning rock 'n' roll venue. In 1983, DiCesare-Engler sold the Stanley to the Cultural Trust, which converted it into the Benedum Center.

But a more substantial change occurred in 1998, the year DiCesare-Engler was acquired by SFX Entertainment, which retained the name DiCesare-Engler and kept Engler on as president and CEO.

Engler remarked at the time, "We had 25 great years, and I hate to make it sound like it's the end because it really isn't. It gives us the firepower, if you will, to do a lot of things that in the past we were reluctant to do."

Two years later, on Aug. 1, 2000, SFX was sold to Clear Channel Communications Inc., one of the nation's biggest broadcasters, for a reported $3.3 billion in stock. At first, they continued to operate as SFX, but in July 2001, the name became Clear Channel Entertainment, by which point the corporation owned an estimated 80 percent to 85 percent of the U.S. concert market.

Ed Masley can be reached at emasley@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.


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