Former Sen. Gordon Smith takes helm at NAB


The National Association of Broadcasters has named Gordon H. Smith as its new President and Chief Executive Officer, replacing David K. Rehr, who left during the summer amid growing tension with the NAB Board.

Smith spent two terms in the Senate as a Republican Senator from Oregon, and was a member of the key Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, a panel which will once again occupy much of his attention as he pursues his new responsibilities.

Smith will be unveiled at the NAB Radio Show in Philadelphia this week, and will meet NAB board members at a Dallas October gathering.

“I am honored to have been selected as NAB’s new president and consider this an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Smith. “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.”

NAB Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry commented, “We conducted an exhaustive search to identify the very best individual to lead a great trade association. 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.”

Besides working in politics, Smith practiced law and ran Smith Frozen Foods, owned by his family and now worth $50M annually. He is currently employed with DC law firm Covington & Burling.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell wins the prize with quickest letter of congratulations, that we saw anyway, saying, “I congratulate the members of the National Association of Broadcasters for selecting former Senator Gordon Smith to lead their association. I have had the pleasure of working with him for several years on communications issues and I know first-hand that he is highly intelligent, thoughtful, principled, and possesses a high degree of integrity. I look forward to working with Gordon in the coming months and years on the many issues facing broadcasters and American consumers.”

RBR/TVBR observation: This Mr. Smith has been to Washington, and during his years on the Hill, he developed a reputation for reaching across party lines which should serve him well in his new capacity.

He was swept out of office in the second wave of Democratic victories in federal legislative elections in 2008, even though he had been tacking toward the center in an effort to keep that from happening (particularly regarding his position on Iraq).

Just for fun, we went back into our archives to see voted in the September 2003 Resolution of Disapproval from Byron Dorgan (D-ND), which purported to disintegrate Michael Powell’s ownership deregulation package and force the FCC to start over from scratch.

While there were broadcasters on both sides of that issue, most industry insiders prefer less or no deregulation to being regulated. And Republicans have been pushing dereg since Reagan came into office. But a lot of Republicans voted for this resolution, most notably Trent Lott (R-MS), who became a co-sponsor.

Could Smith have had an inkling way back then, almost exactly six years ago, that he was destined for the big office that the NAB? You might think so when you consider that when the roll was called, Smith [drum roll please: brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-dit!] was absent.