The new head of the National Association of Broadcasters is a former Republican U.S. senator from Oregon and entrepreneur.
Gordon H. Smith of Covington & Burling LLP becomes president/CEO, succeeding David Rehr. The announcement comes a few days before the organization’s radio convention in Philadelphia, where he’ll make his first appearance with broadcasters and speak. NAB said Smith will be introduced to the entire NAB Board of Directors at a meeting in Dallas in mid-October.
Smith, 57, was in the Senate from 1996 to 2008. Committee assignments included the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel that oversees broadcast-related legislation. He also served on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to NAB.
“He has been widely respected as a pragmatic lawmaker able to successfully reach across party lines,” the trade association said in its announcement, adding that, “Smith’s role on the Commerce Committee and as the Chairman of a Senate High Tech Task Force helped foster his interest in new media and new technology issues.”
NAB Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry cited Smith’s 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.”
NAB said Smith attended college at Brigham Young University, received a law degree from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles and practiced law in New Mexico and Arizona before returning to Oregon to direct the family-owned Smith Frozen Foods business in Weston, Ore., now a $50-million-a-year company and one of the largest frozen foods companies in America. He’s a former president of the Oregon state senate as well.
Smith was defeated for reelection in 2008 by Democrat Jeff Merkley.