The Gordon Smith era at the National Association of Broadcasters will end soon, and the Curtis LeGeyt era will begin.
Smith, the president/CEO of NAB, announced he’ll “transition to an advisory and advocacy role” effective Dec. 31. That role will last until at least the end of 2024.
Chief Operating Officer Curtis LeGeyt has been named the next president and CEO effective Jan. 1, 2022.
In 2017, the NAB announced a contract extension for Smith’s contract through 2023, so the timing of the change is something of a surprise.
“It has been my great honor to give the lion’s roar for broadcasters – those who run into the storm, those who stand firm in chaos to hear the voice of the people, those who hold to account the powerful — and to stand with those of the fourth estate who have the hearts of public servants,” Smith stated in a press release.
He posted a video message in which he mentioned his role as a husband, father and grandfather, a businessman and a church lay minister. “Many of these things I have put on hold for the last quarter century to give public service and to be among broadcasters.”
Smith called his NAB role “a great honor” and said, “Broadcasters have etched marks in my heart that will never go away.”
He joined NAB as president and CEO in November 2009, succeeding David Rehr. A Republican with a business background, he was a two-term U.S. senator from Oregon who had a reputation as a political moderate and pragmatist, a reputation that he retained in his time at NAB.
LeGeyt (“leh-JET”) has moved up the NAB’s lobbying and policy structure since 2011. Prior to assuming his current role as COO about a year ago, he served for five years as NAB’s executive vice president, Government Relations.
With a new Democratic administration in Washington, it probably doesn’t hurt that LeGeyt’s roots are on that side of the aisle.
Before joining NAB, LeGeyt was senior counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and he has donated to various Democratic candidates, according to online sites that cover campaign finance. He worked on the staff of the 2008 Obama for America presidential campaign.
Some in broadcasting had speculated that former broadcaster and member of Congress Greg Walden, another Republican from Oregon, might succeed Smith.
NAB Joint Board of Directors Chairman Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television, called Gordon Smith “the ultimate statesman, bringing people together from both sides of the aisle to discuss ideas, find common ground and lead NAB to success on countless fronts.”
Wertlieb said Smith will hold a special advisory role through 2024, including lobbying.
When he was in the Senate, Smith served on the Senate Commerce Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Finance Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee. Smith has credited his work on Commerce and as chairman of a Senate High Tech Task Force as fostering his interest in new media and new technology issues.
He also worked as an entrepreneur and attorney, directing his family company, Weston, Ore.-based Smith Frozen Foods.
Smith has written publicly about mental health and his family’s experience with suicide.
Smith had a health scare in August of 2020 from which he quickly recovered.
Issues with which the NAB has dealt during Smith’s tenure include the regulatory burdens on broadcasters when compared to “new tech” platforms; navigating the nation’s digital TV migration; lobbying against proposals to place new performance royalties on radio stations; and efforts to advocate for radio’s place in the dashboard.
The new incoming leader LeGeyt has led NAB’s legislative advocacy efforts.
NAB said his work included the permanent reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization (STELAR), inclusion of $1 billion in RAY BAUM’s Act to reimburse stations impacted by the spectrum auction repack, and successful passage of the Music Modernization Act.
A list of all past NAB presidents is at bottom.
Here is a sample of Radio World coverage of Gordon Smith’s tenure:
Thumbs Up for Gordon Smith (2011)
Gordon Smith Says Biden Won (Nov. 2020)
PAST NAB LEADERS
Here is a list of NAB’s leaders over the years:
Eugene F. McDonald, 1923–1925 (founding president)
Frank W. Elliot, 1925–1926
Earle C. Anthony, 1926–1928
William S. Hedges, 1928–1930
Walter J. Damm, 1930–1931
Harry Shaw, 1931–1932
J. T. Ward, 1932–1933
Alfred J. McCosker, 1933–1935
Leo J. Fitzpatrick, 1935–1936
Charles W. Myers, 1936–1937
Neville Miller, 1938–1944
J. Harold Ryan, 1944–1945
Justin Miller, 1945–1951
Harold Fellows, 1951–1960
Leroy Collins, 1961–1964
Vincent T. Wasilewski, 1965–1982
Eddie Fritts, 1982–2006
David Rehr, 2006–2009
Gordon Smith, 2009–2021
Curtis LeGeyt, to start Jan. 2022