The boss who oversaw the National Association of Broadcasters’ evisceration of the FCC’s low-power FM radio service, Eddie Fritts, stepped aside as president last year, and considers the squelching of LPFM one of his greatest accomplishments. The new NAB chieftain is David K. Rehr, former chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

NAB President David Rehr, GOP Palm-Greaser ExtraordinaireWhen Rehr was selected to replace Fritts, the NAB pointed to his significant and unabashed lobbying and fundraising skills – Rehr made the NBWA political action fund one of the ten biggest spenders in Washington and currently doles out more than twice as much cash as does the NAB. Rehr was also a “Bush Pioneer” in 2004, raising more than $100,000 for his second campaign, and has extremely close ties to Republican congressional leadership and the K Street Project.

drehrThe NAB State Leadership Conference took place this week in Washington. Rehr mobilized the troops: broadcast executives received “color-coded issue (and corresponding talking-point) cheat sheets” and “what is in effect an issue order form so that they can record their lobbying progress on key issues, with places to check off the legislator’s response.” The NAB has recently added staff to its in-house lobbying crew as well.

Eddie Fritts made broadcasters one of the most powerful special interests in D.C. by leveraging his membership’s control of the airwaves to influence politics. The airwaves remain a potent weapon, but Rehr’s an expert in the accumulation of cash. Couple the two and the result can’t be healthy.