Gordon Smith said on Wednesday that he is stepping down as president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters at the end of the year. He’ll be succeeded by the trade association’s chief operating officer, Curtis LeGeyt.
Smith, who has led NAB since 2009, will continue in an advisory and advocacy role through Dec. 31, 2024.
More from Deadline
The role is one of the most prominent lobbying posts in Washington, even with changes in technology and consumer habits, as NAB member stations are fanned out throughout lawmakers’ districts across the country.
“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 said in a video message to members.
Smith served two terms in the Senate as a Republican representing Oregon, and after his defeat in 2008 to Jeff Merkley, Smith went into private practice before he was tapped as head of the trade association. He still has about two years remaining on his NAB contract, but Jordan Wertlieb, president of Hearst Television and chairman of NAB’s Joint Board of Directors, said that Smith worked with broad leadership on a succession plan.
Smith, 69, indicated in the video message that he wanted to spend more time with his family and church as well as tend to a large food processing enterprise in Oregon.
“I look forward to time with them, doing things grandfathers ought to do,” Smith said.
In August, Smith was initially thought to have suffered a stroke, but he said in a later statement that it was averted due to the quick discovery of a blood clot.
Among the legislative accomplishments during his tenure was the Music Modernization Act, which streamlined music licensing. NAB also continued to fight against efforts to establish a performance royalty for artists and record labels when their music was played over the airwaves.
The Covid-19 pandemic has sidelined one of the trade association’s biggest revenue generators, its annual April show in Las Vegas, but the next event is currently scheduled for October.
LeGeyt has been with NAB for almost 10 years, and was previously senior counsel to then- Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who is now the president pro tem of the Senate. LeGeyt led efforts to reauthorize key legislation including the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act Reauthorization, as well as a measure to reimburse stations $1 billion for costs incurred following a landmark auction of broadcast spectrum.
In a statement, LeGeyt said, “To represent the broadcast industry and the local stations that bind our communities together in a moment of such tremendous change across the media landscape is a privilege. Our stations’ role in communities across this country has never been more important, and I look forward to working every day to ensure their ability to grow and thrive.”
Best of Deadline