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David Rehr Resigns As NAB President

Posted at 2:10 p.m. ET

Q&A With David Rehr

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NAB President David Rehr announced his resignation Wednesday, but is expected to remain for a transition period until early June. Janet McGregor, NAB chief operating and financial officer, will take over day-to-day running of the orgnanization until they can find a replacement.

"I have enjoyed leading America's broadcasters through this time of change and challenge," Rehr said in a statement. "Our efforts to educate America about the digital television transition have been enormously successful, and our effort to reinvigorate radio through the Radio Heard Here campaign is positioning radio broadcasters well for the future."
"David made a significant contribution and has been extremely dedicated to making NAB a stronger organization," NAB Joint Board Chairman Jack Sander said in his own statement. "On behalf of the board of directors and our member stations, we thank him for his leadership and wish him well in the future."

Rehr was hired as a connected Republican and a good fund-raiser, but he has conceded he made some missteps in connecting with Capitol Hill, a criticism that was echoed by some lobbyists and board members.

Then Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens had another choice in mind and made it clear he was not happy with Rehr.

Rehr was also said to have lost an opportunity to take ownership of the industry DTV transiton call center operation after a meeting with Obama transition team staffers, who pushed for more industry participation. The cable industry volunteered to motorman that industry effort.

A search committee has been formed to find a new candidate.

"The smart thing to do would be to put Eddie Fritts back tommorrow," said one industry source, Fritts ran the association for more than two decades before being replaced by Rehr, who joined the association from the National Beer Wholesalers in 2005.

Back in 2005, when Republicans ruled the roost, Rehr was the kind of Republican, K-Street connected lobbyist that GOP leadership had been pushing to fill association vacancies, suggesting that the party's influence in the town was not reflected in the leadership of the lobbies that needed to work with them.

Rehr had been with the beer association since 2000, and in the mid-1990s he was named one of the town's top lobbyists. He had to try to fill the shoes of Fritts, who helped take the group from one that a legislator famously referred to as unable to "lobby its way out of a paper bag" to one of the most effective in town.

NAB had suffered some defeats recently, including the issue of allowing unlicensed devices to share TV channels, its failed attempt to block the XM Sirius merger, and what some saw--and others didn't--as too absolutist a position on per-performance fees for radio airplay.

More than one source on background said that the choice of Rehr had also represented a move toward a board-driven, rather than a staff-driven organization.

The change in leadership comes just as the majority of broadcasters will be trying to make the switch from analog to digital