Former RAB CEO Gary Fries Passes


The message about the death of former RAB CEO Gary Fries was passed along Friday morning by his son Todd. “I want to thank everyone for there support and prayers. This morning at 12:13am Arizona time my father peacefully passed away. In leaving this world for a better place, he did it in typical Gary fashion. His determination and heart astounded the entire hospice staff. In their process they would most likely had notified the family on Saturday that it would be soon, but in typical Gary mentality he proved them all wrong going until Friday. For this particular group of people I thought it might put a small smile on your face to know that he left on his terms.”

The family respectfully suggests that any memorial donations be made to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, with the mission to improve the quality of life and maintain the personal dignity of men and women in the radio and television broadcast profession who find themselves in acute financial need due to a critical illness, accident, advanced age or other serious misfortune. Please send donations to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, c/o James B. Thompson, President, 125 W. 55th Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10019-5366, or a charity of your choice. Services are pending, and will be private in Nebraska.

A statement from the current RAB President and CEO Erica Farber:

Former RAB CEO Gary Fries

“It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of our friend and colleague, Gary Fries. Gary served the RAB and industry for 14 years and during his tenure as radio’s leading advocate he provided tremendous leadership and guidance. Under his direction, 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.

Upon his departure from the RAB, he left with the title of President Emeritus and continued to hold a seat on the RAB Board to his very last day. With a large physical presence and a strong personality he always made his presence known. On a personal note, Gary and I partnered together on many initiatives and I always found a welcoming partner and friend.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time.”

Gary Fries was the CEO of the RAB from 1991 to 2006. He was 76 years old. Comments have been pouring in about Gary Fries from his many friends and colleagues.
“We all knew Gary as a terrific person and a first rate professional. His leadership of RAB and the radio industry is marked by his many accomplishments and successes. He will be remembered for advancing radio’s image and effectiveness.”
Eddie Fritts

Former NAB CEO 

“Gary was one of the giants of our industry. One of the truly good people and someone who dedicated his entire life to the business. A wonderful man.”
Jeff Smulyan

“I had the pleasure of personally working directly with Gary for many years and always knew that he represented the business side of radio in a focused, professional manner. The RAB staff respected his leadership and I did as well. We shared many laughs together and many radio people will miss Gary.”
John David
Executive VP of Radio


“Few people who enter the radio business can match the passion for it that Gary brought for his entire career. He knew how it worked, why it worked, and what it could do for advertisers. His accomplishments at the station and group, network and trade association level are many and significant. Gary’s leadership at the RAB came during one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of the medium, and yet his vision and commitment inspired not only his amazing staff but all of us as client stations, as well. As a result, the RAB helped foster unity in the industry, grew dramatically, and became a model for innovation and service for similar organizations worldwide. How’s that for a legacy? And how lucky I was — and we all were — to have had the chance to work with, learn from, and share a few laughs with such a kind and respectful man. We’ll miss him.”

David Kennedy


“Accomplished radio broadcaster? Yes. More importantly a super human being always at the ready to promote our industry and give a teaching hand up to those who needed it. Thanks Gary for your unselfish contributions to Radio and your friendship. Rest In Peace.”
Bill Stakelin

“Gary was a true leader and a close personal friend. While he was the head of the RAB the radio industry went from 9 billion to 20. He was a very active and charitable board member of the Broadcasters Foundation.”
Jim Thompson
Broadcasters Foundation of America


Joe Bilotta

“As Chair of The RAB at the end of Gary’s tenure, we enjoyed many off the record conversations about the industry, the inevitable move away from traditional structures and the cadre of personalities involved in industry leadership. I was honored to give the farewell speech at the RAB dinner honoring him for a great body of work. Rest In Peace my friend.”
Joe Bilotta


“Gary Fries served the radio industry with dignity, integrity, and vision as radio broadcaster as well as head of the RAB for 14 years. He will be missed by many but leaves a lasting legacy.”
Deborah Parenti
Radio Ink


  1. Linda Todd Gary jr and Brian, In Springfield we were family there for each other. I hope you can feel my arms around you now. Know that Gary feels no pain now. He may be hanging out with Kathie

  2. Gary had a big impact on radio and was calling on the industry to embrace the internet wayyyyy back in 1999 when many owners and operators were skeptical about it. He was a forward-thinking visionary and saw great things for our medium. I learned a great deal working for him at the RAB.

  3. Gary Fries made a positive and meaningful difference in my career and in my life by introducing and connecting me to his son Todd.

    Todd & Linda, my thoughts and condolences to you and your family.

    Gary Fries a true Media/Broadcast MVP and Champion‼️

    Tony Yoken (proudly CRMC)

  4. I had the pleasure of working for Gary and can say without hesitation there was no more passionate advocate for Radio. His leadership in spearheading the RAEL initiative allowed the marketing team and me to become cheerleaders for Radio, bringing more dollars to the industry. Rest in peace, Gary. You did a GREAT job.

  5. GARY and Linda were dear friends to Sue and me and the ties we had together will remain in our hearts.
    The industry was made stronger by his leadership at the RAB when it was most needed.
    Linda is a very special mother, wife and friend to all she knew.
    All our love,
    Jim and Sue Champlin

  6. Gary was the consummate ambassador and marketeer for Radio. He stepped in at the perfect moment and did an amazing job for the industry.
    May your journey home be of peace and joy. God bless….


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