WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) announced today that Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of Communications, is retiring effective July 1. Wharton, a 24-year veteran of NAB and the longest-serving spokesman in the organization's history, will continue to serve as a senior adviser to NAB, according to President and CEO Gordon Smith.
"Dennis is a fervent advocate for local broadcasting and his dedication to NAB and the broadcast industry cannot be overstated," said Smith. "Journalists, broadcasters and colleagues alike value his extensive insight on industry-related issues and appreciate the enthusiasm and good humor he brings to his work. We wish Dennis all the best and are fortunate to have him stay on as an adviser to NAB."
Wharton joined NAB in 1996 as vice president, Media Relations and subsequently was promoted to senior vice president in 1997 and executive vice president in 2006. He has overseen NAB departments that include Media Relations, Research and Public Service. Wharton joined NAB after a 16-year journalism career in Ohio and as Washington bureau chief for Variety, where he covered legislative and regulatory issues related to broadcasting, cable and Hollywood movie studios.
In an e-mail to the NAB Board of Directors last night, Wharton called his retirement a "bittersweet moment" and described his tenure at NAB as "the privilege of my professional life." Wharton wrote that he has been "in the catbird seat for countless moments in broadcast history" over 24 years, including the launch of HDTV, radio performance royalty fights, "wardrobe malfunctions," and media consolidation battles. He said he is most proud of the unparalleled public service of local broadcast stations, which has been on prominent display during the COVID-19 crisis.
Wharton praised the NAB Board, his co-workers, local broadcasters, state broadcast association executives and reporters who covered NAB through the years. He reserved special gratitude for colleagues on the NAB Communications team, which he has overseen for more than two decades.
NAB also announced today it will merge the association's Communications and Marketing Departments into a new Public Affairs Department that will be led by NAB's Michelle Lehman. The Public Affairs department will serve to positively position NAB and the broadcast industry through strategic communications, media and digital outreach, marketing and research to support NAB's advocacy efforts, events and member-focused initiatives.
Lehman has served as executive vice president of Marketing since joining NAB in 2006. In this role, she advances the association's brand before key audiences and implements marketing, advertising and grassroots campaigns to address specific legislative and business challenges facing the broadcast industry.
The National Association of Broadcasters is the premier advocacy association for America's broadcasters. NAB advances radio and television interests in legislative, regulatory and public affairs. Through advocacy, education and innovation, NAB enables broadcasters to best serve their communities, strengthen their businesses and seize new opportunities in the digital age. Learn more at www.nab.org.
Read the full announcement here.