NAB to ‘Move Swiftly’ to Replace Exiting Rehr

The NAB intends to act quickly in replacing David Rehr, who last week resigned abruptly from his nearly $700,000-a-year position as president/CEO of NAB, one of the most influential lobbying organizations in America. Rehr, 50, who holds a Ph.D. in economics, did not announce what his immediate career goals would be.
While the NAB’s board of directors intends to meet this week to develop criteria for what it wants in a new leader, Joint Board chairman Jack Sander tells Radio and Records, “We want to move swiftly to make this hire. We are looking for the best person in America.” Sander adds that the NAB will hire “smartly and, hopefully, quickly.”
Once the criteria are developed, says Sanders, the NAB expects to craft a list of “the best candidates to do the best possible job for local broadcasters. We want somebody who knows our industry and knows about broadcasting. If they are not in broadcasting already, we want someone who can get up to speed quickly. We have people on staff who can help them get up to speed.”
Sander, a television executive with Belo Broadcasting, tells Radio and Records that the single-biggest problem facing the radio industry is the looming Performance Rights Act now pending on Capitol Hill. “The performance tax would be very, very damaging to local radio stations across the country.” He indicated that the NAB will not likely back off of its current tack of not negotiating with record labels over fees. “Why we would support labels over Ma and Pa stations is beyond me,” says Sander.
While he stresses that the aggressive performance tack carried out by David Rehr was on marching orders from the NAB board and its members, he adds, “As broadcasters, we always have to be smart, listening as well as talking.” He points to Radio Board members such as Commonwealth Broadcasting CEO Steve Newberry and Beasley Broadcasting CFO Caroline Beasley as part of the leadership team that serves as the hearts and minds of radio broadcasting. “I don’t see any fundamental change [coming] in our strategy,” he says. “That is board-driven, membership-driven.”
Rehr’s aggressive style occasionally rubbed political Washington the wrong way and left some members of Congress grumbling, wishing for the return of the less combative days of Eddie Fritts, the NAB top dog for nearly 23 years until he was ousted in a Phil Lombardo-led coup that began during the NAB convention in Las Vegas in 2004 and ended with Fritts’ departure in the fall of 2005. (Lombardo, CEO of Bronxville, N.Y., TV operator Citadel Communications, was then Joint Board chairman.)
“If there is a loss of luster, then we will fix it,” said Sander. “We want to be in the real world at all times.” He noted that “there are tons and tons of issues that we tackle every day, some of them more high-profile than others, but the reputation of the NAB is paramount to us doing business.”