Following a battle with cancer, former RAB CEO Gary Fries passed away September 22 at the age of 76.
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Gary Fries,” said RAB president and CEO, Erica Farber, in a statement. “Gary and I partnered together on many initiatives and I always found a welcoming partner and friend.”
Fries served as head of the RAB for 14 years.
During his tenure, “the RAB increased its membership and introduced and advanced numerous sales training programs. He spearheaded radio to the forefront in media accountability, playing a dominant role in the development of RAEL working with advertisers, agencies and broadcasters to further the industry’s understanding of how radio advertising works. He also encouraged radio to embrace electronic data interchange, urging the industry to adopt electronic invoicing,” Farber said.
Fries spent his entire career in radio—and more than a half-century working in the industry. He held a part-time sales job at Stuart Broadcasting’s KFOR Radio in Lincoln, Neb., while still in college. Before he was 25, Fries had propelled himself into radio management at KRGI Grand Island, NE.
Other executive stops include president/COO of Transtar Radio Network, president of Unistar Radio Networks, president/COO of Sunbelt Communications’ Radio Division, VP of ITC Communications and VP of Multimedia Broadcasting.
Up until his death, Fries retained the title of president emeritus and held a seat on the RAB board of directors. Fries also served as Arbitron’s liaison to small markets, where he helped lead efforts to update and improve its radio diary service. He also served as board chairman of the Bayliss Foundation. In 2006, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association. Fries had been living in Phoenix.