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NAB’s Baumann to Retire

Oct 6, 2003  •  Post A Comment

In a blow to the National Association of Broadcasters, Jeff Baumann, the association’s longtime executive VP of legal and regulatory affairs, last week announced he has opted to take early retirement, effective in February.
Mr. Baumann, 59, has served as NAB’s key liaison to the Federal Communications Commission since January 1984, when he joined the association as its general counsel. Before signing on at NAB, he was a top FCC staffer.
“Free, over-the-air broadcasters owe Jeff Baumann an enormous debt of gratitude for his years of exemplary service,” said Eddie Fritts, NAB president and CEO. “No CEO could ask for a better counselor.”
“This is a huge loss for the broadcasting industry,” added Preston Padden, The Walt Disney Co. executive VP, worldwide government relations.
Mr. Baumann’s departure comes as a particularly devastating blow to Mr. Fritts because the association’s other veteran lobbyist, Jim May, stepped down as NAB executive VP for government relations earlier this year to assume command of the Air Transport Association.
“[Mr. Baumann and Mr. May] were Eddie’s go-to guys, and now they’re gone,” said one source.
Sources said morale at the association has been on a downward spiral over the past several years, in part because infighting over media ownership deregulation has divided the industry.
But Mr. Baumann, who will turn 60 at the end of February, said he has long been planning to take early retirement, to travel with his wife, Betty, and maybe even get into the wine business.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Mr. Baumann said of his 20-year career at the NAB.