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October 24, 2014

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4/16/01 The Genie Inside The Beltway
Every moment Iíve spent with a professional politician leaves me feeling empty and confused. Why? I think it has to do trying to follow a path of political gibberish, which has no meaning though it is designed to make you feel as though you got the answer you are seeking.
The politics of politics are very difficult to understand and even more difficult to manage. Yet somehow these political animals manage to exist in an environment that makes any episode of Survivor look like a walk in the park.
A recent project gave me a taste of the life of a Washington, D.C. politician and a whole new respect for anyone who can manage the gibberish, the doublespeak, the behind-the-scenes deal-making, the endless cocktail parties and meetings at the good olí boy club. It is a tireless life that is not easily lived, and one that requires finesse and more patience than most. To survive in D.C., one can have no enemies; yet to succeed, you must take a position without taking sides.
For almost two decades now, Eddie Fritts has been the strength behind the National Association of Broadcasters, known as the most powerful lobby in America. Amazingly, Eddie Frittís track record is so solid that he is like the Genie in the Bottle: Your wish is his command. In most cases the NAB board has chosen a direction for the NAB, a bill to pass, or ones to stop; and Eddie Fritts manages to grant their wish most of the time.
Over the years, Iíve challenged the NAB and Eddie Fritts on a number of matters ó in some cases, causing him a great deal of heat. (And there are likely to be more challenges to come.) Yet Eddie Fritts has always treated me with respect, often making me feel awkward about challenging him, because he is such a nice guy and an effective and convincing lobbyist. He understands and respects my opinion (though he often disagrees), and he is always a fair man.
In spite of industry consolidation, which has led to some differing agendas for Radio and television, Eddie Fritts has proven to its membership that the NAB is a prudent investment. He has managed to keep membership strong when many others are losing members along a road to ruin.
This week at the NAB convention, which is the third-largest convention in America, youíll have a chance to see Eddie Fritts in the hall. Chances are he will know your name, know something about you personally or your family, and he will make you feel like the most important person on earth. Thatís the charm of the man leading the NAB, and itís a sentiment you would hear from anyone ó the President of the United States, any Senator or Congressman in America, or anyone at the FCC. People love and trust Eddie Fritts.
When you see him, stop and tell him what a good job he is doing. Our industry is definitely better off as a result of Eddie Fritts.
ó B. Eric Rhoads

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