Former Chief Innovation Officer at The Tribune Company
Lee Abrams was The Tribune Company's Chief Innovation Officer responsible for helping re-invent the scores of TV stations, cable channels and newspapers that are owned by Tribune, as well as to help create a new, open and modern innovation focused culture
Prior to 2008, Abrams was XM’s first employee as Senior Vice President and Chief Programming Officer. Lee Abrams, has been shaping the American radio industry for over three decades. During the past 40 years, he has brought unparalleled ratings and economic success to radio stations in over 200 markets, including 97 of the top 100. Winning 318 programming battles, while losing only 11. In 1993, Newsweek listed Abrams as one of America’s “100 Cultural Elite” for his contributions to creating the modern radio; and Radio Ink listed Abrams as one of the 75 most inportant radio figures of all time.
Abrams joined XM in June 1998 to help create the next generation of radio: satellite direct radio. With 150 stations to develop and program, Abrams is once again challenged to reinvigorate the radio landscape.
As a founding partner of Burkhart/Abrams, the Atlanta-based consulting giant, Abrams invented and built Album Rock, the first successful FM format. He also designed numerous other highly successful radio formats including the first Classic Rock format at San Francisco’s KFOG; the first FM Urban/Dance format at New York’s WKTU, the first New Age/Jazz format. In addition, he created the original blueprint for the NBC Source Network. His corporate clients have included every major broadcast group.
In 1989, Abrams joined ABC Radio Networks as an internal consultant and oversaw the revolutionary Z-Rock format, which was the first satellite delivered Superstation, as well as being the first “Metal/Hard Rock” format, and was instrumental in the launch of Radio Disney.
Musically, Abrams produced the Grammy-winning CD “Ah Via Musicom” by Eric Johnson, has appeared on several Alan Parsons Project CD’s, and worked with major labels and recording artists as a consultant. Among his clients have been great industry leaders, such as The Moody Blues, Yes, Iron Maiden, The Pointer Sisters and Capitol Records.
Abrams’ other media projects have included the redesign of Rolling Stone magazine, the launch of TNT Cable Network, MTV, American marketing and advisor to dozens of entertainment companies. In addition, Abrams has been the subject of feature articles in hundreds of consumer publications including Playboy, Esquire, New York Times, People, and The Wall Street Journal, and appeared as a guest on "The Apprentice" series with Donald Trump.
While at XM, Abrams was responsible for bringing timeless icons such as Bob Dylan, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, Tom Petty and others into the XM fold to create passionate original programming.
Recently Abrams created and is hosting the "SkyDives" series on cable superstation WGN AMERICA reaching 72 million homes.
At 58, Abrams resides in Chicago, and is an Instrument rated pilot.