The National Association of Broadcasters has named Gordon Smith, a former two-term Oregon Senator, as its new president, according to a source familiar with the selection.
Smith replaces David Rehr, who resigned in May. NAB COO Janet MacGregor 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, 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, said one source.
Rehr had been a beer industry executive before joining the association, and conceded that he had felt like an outsider at the outset of his tenure.
"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."
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 Friday morning, Smith will officially join Nov. 1, but will be introduced at next week's Radio Show in Philadelphia.
"I am honored to have been selected as NAB's new president and consider this an opportunity of a lifetime," said Smith in a statement. "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."
"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. His background as a lawyer, a statesman, and as an entrepreneur -- coupled with his extensive knowledge of broadcast issues from having served many years on the Commerce Committee -- make Gordon eminently qualified to represent the interests of free and local broadcasters in Washington."