The sweeping change underway at Tribune Company today took another giant leap forward as the media giant announced the appointment of music and radio industry icon Lee Abrams as Chief Innovation Officer. Abrams will be responsible for innovation across Tribune’s publishing, broadcasting and interactive divisions, and will assume his duties April 1. He is the first person to hold the position in the company’s 160-year history.
“There is a remarkable opportunity for Tribune to design the future of American media with passion, intellect, and imagination that meets the spirit of the 21st century,” said Abrams. “We have the resources to pioneer a new age of information and entertainment that re-invents and enlightens—and that is exactly what we are going to do!”
Since 1998, Abrams has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer at XM Satellite Radio, overseeing the development and programming of more than 100 radio stations. At XM, Abrams developed programming with such diverse artists as Bob Dylan, Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.
“Lee is the most formidable creative thinker in the media business today,” said Randy Michaels, Tribune’s president of broadcasting and interactive. “He invented the modern FM radio format, got satellite radio off the ground when no one gave it a chance, and managed to advise on the redesign of “Rolling Stone” magazine and the launch of TNT Cable Network in his spare time. Lee’s going to pump new life into our content, re-energize our brands, and get people thinking and working together like they never have before.”
Abrams, 55, was the founding partner of Burkhart/Abrams, the Atlanta-based consulting giant, and is credited with inventing album rock, the first successful FM format. He pioneered the radio “morning show” and gave Howard Stern and Steve Dahl their first major market jobs. Abrams has also been a marketing and content consultant to MTV, Swatch and Coca-Cola.