National Association Of Broadcasters Vet Dennis Wharton Retiring As Chief Spokesman

The National Association of Broadcasters is restructuring its marketing and communications operations as veteran spokesman Dennis Wharton plans to retire on July 1 after a 24-year run.

Wharton will remain a consultant and senior adviser to the NAB, a Washington-based lobbying organization known for staging events like the NAB Show. The massive confab is one of the largest annual conventions held in Las Vegas.

“Dennis is a fervent advocate for local broadcasting and his dedication to NAB and the broadcast industry cannot be overstated,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said. “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.”

As Wharton transitions to his new role, the NAB plans to merge its communications and marketing groups into a new Public Affairs Department led by Michelle Lehman, EVP of Marketing since 2006.

Ann Marie Cumming, SVP of Communications and an NAB staffer since 1994, will step into Wharton’s role as chief spokesperson. Her deputy will be Zamir Ahmed, VP of Media Relations.

Wharton was previously a journalist and Washington bureau chief for Deadline sister publication, Variety.

In an e-mail to the NAB Board of Directors on Monday, Wharton called his retirement a “bittersweet moment” and described his tenure at NAB as “the privilege of my professional life.”

The NAB Show’s 2020 edition, planned for April, was canceled due to COVID-19 but then replaced with a virtual event, NAB Show Express, slated for this month. The organization has not announced any updated plans for its annual New York convention, a newer spinoff held each fall.

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