Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Radio: Fumbles, Yourrrrrr OUT!
David "Fumbles" Rehr, you’re out!
Officially, it’s a resignation that was asked of you to make.
I hear they had to pry it out of you with the Jaws of Life.
You could say I’ve been predicting your downfall for years.
But I did call it on April 12. By then you were at the point of no return.
So many disasters in so little time.
Considering the irreparable damage Fumbles did to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) it’s hard to believe that he was in that post for less than five years.
Just to put it in perspective, his predecessor Eddie Fritz held the same position for 23 years.
Sure, I’d like to take some credit for the campaign to kick his ass out of the NAB – but I can’t. It was all Fumbles; all self-inflicted.
Now, he’s an accident going somewhere else to happen.
Fumbles joined the NAB as President and CEO in December, 2005 just around the time his left his former employer, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, for health reasons. They were sick of him.
Fumbles sold himself as an insider – as one who had the ear of then-President George W. Bush. Within a few months it was evident that Rehr knew Bush better than Bush knew Rehr.
He sold himself as a savvy lobbyist but proved to have absolutely no skill on Capitol Hill.
When the phone didn’t ring he knew it was FCC Commissioner Boy Kevin Martin. The Boy never returned Fumbles’ phone calls, e-mails, and letters even though they shared the same party and ideology.
In fact, Boy Kevin even went right over Fumbles’ head and mandated DTV transition PSAs when it was apparent that the NAB had no plan of action to promote the change from analog-to-digital. television transmission.
Fumbles, you leave behind a charred legacy of failure. Where does one begin?
Your failure to achieve multicast must-carry rights for TV stations?
Your failure to block the Sirius-XM satellite radio merger?
Your failed “white space” initiative to open up the broadcast spectrum for shared use by on-line devices?
Your failed campaigns to save radio from itself? Radio Heard Here? Radio 2020? Need I add more?
The botched streaming audio negotiations with the RIAA’s SoundExchange that gave the latter even more royalties than they asked for by 2015?
Let me add three more words: Performance royalty fees.
I’m running out of space. If you want more and have an hour to kill, go to the top of this page where it says “Search blog” and type in “Fumbles.”
Believe me. By the time you finish reading the rest of Fumbles’ follies you’ll be asking the same question: What took them so long?
Fumbles, you’ll be forever known as the one who escalated a business that was stuck in the past to go backward.
Your “resignation” comes with collateral damage.
Where does this leave your professional coat holder Dennis Wharton?
How about RAB CEO Jeff “Ka-Ching” Haley? How fast can that bum kisser get his head out of your butt?
And what of your digital radio buddies like iBiquity CEO Bob “Booble” Struble and poor Lyin’ Diane Warren of the HD Digital Radio Alliance? Is that demented party finally over?
I heard that your thisclose buddy Fred Jacobs took the news hard and spent the entire afternoon sobbing uncontrollably.
It remains to be seen if the NAB can ever recover from your lack of leadership.
Will the NAB board, which is dominated by old-line major market broadcasters, be able to identify a new CEO with the essential attitude and perception to lead old media into the 21st century?
The economics of the radio and television industry are remorseless, but I believe there are opportunities to marry old media to new and develop a 21st century “side door” revenue stream that will become highly beneficial to both our consumers and clients – and it will happen with or without the NAB. It’s up to that association to face up to today’s challenges or form another that will.
Let’s hear how Fumbles announced his departure.
"I have enjoyed leading America's broadcasters through this time of change and challenge," sayeth Fumbles in his shovel-ready farewell. "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."
Denial. From beginning to end.
P.S. Take your box of stuffed ducks and…. you know the rest.