The National Association of Broadcasters has named Gordon Smith, a former two-term Oregon Senator currently with law firm Covington & Burling, as its new president.
Smith replaces David Rehr, who resigned in May. NAB chief operating officer Janet McGregor has been serving as acting president in the interim.
Smith is described as a moderate Republican who also has good relationships with Democrats. He is a former member of the Senate Commerce and Finance Committees and knows all the broadcast issues. He is also tapped into new media issues as former chair of the Senate’s high-tech task force.
Jack Sander, former NAB joint board chairman, had told Multichannel News following Rehr’s resignation that the board would be looking for someone who could hit the ground running. Smith can do that, and has “the Wow! factor,” which NAB was also looking for, one source said.
“I think we are going to look for someone who either understands our business or has the ability to understand our businesses very, very fast,” Sander said in May. “We do not have time to have a six-month or eight-month learning curve about our business.”
The NAB was also looking for someone who could make key connections on the Hill, something Gordon comes already equipped with.
According to his online bio, “Smith grew up in Pendleton, Ore., and later in Bethesda, Md., where his father, Milan, served in the Eisenhower Administration. After serving on a church mission in New Zealand, he graduated from Brigham Young University and Southwestern University School of Law.”
According to a source, in recent weeks the candidate pool had been whittled to two, with former Republican FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy making the short list, along with Smith.
According to NAB, which announced the hire last Friday, Smith will officially join Nov. 1, but will be introduced at this week’s NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia.
“As radio and television stations embrace new technologies and new business opportunities, I look forward to articulating to public policymakers the unique and positive role played by local and network broadcasters in the fabric of American society,” Smith said in a statement.
“We conducted an exhaustive search to identify the very best individual to lead a great trade association,” added NAB joint board chairman Steve Newberry. “We’re convinced we have found that person in Gordon Smith.”