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David Rehr, Outta Here

NAB president/CEO suffered from one liability from the outset: he wasn't Eddie Fritts

David Rehr has resigned as president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters. Whether he jumped or was pushed isn’t of much consequence to me but look for plenty of backbiting in the days to come as people who didn’t like his ever-sunny style and non-broadcast background make him the fall guy for all that ails radio and broadcast at large right now.

That would be unfair. Rehr is a professional association exec and capable enough at that job, in my view. He brought some fresh air to the halls of the association, too. But many in the industry will find it hard to accept any CEO at NAB who isn’t a broadcaster, like Eddie Fritts was, who understands the needs of radio, like Eddie Fritts did, and was truly exceptional at navigating the hallways of power and lobbying, like Eddie Fritts was.

Beyond that, Rehr also never quite overcame a hesitancy some in broadcasting felt about him as an outsider, I think. He also has been victimized by a terrible economic situation.

But if Rehr’s tenure is judged by history to be less than successful, it’s not entirely the fault of others, either. He tended to make his fights public and loud; so when he lost them, as in the Sirius XM merger case, everyone knew. That contrasted with the image of NAB from the Eddie days of a lean, effective lobbying machine.

It will be interesting to see if NAB takes a less confrontational stance in its debate with the record labels now as well.