Lee Abrams is an American media executive who has held a number of posts for large and influential companies, and is generally credited with developing the Album Oriented Rock format employed by hundreds of radio stations across the country.
In the 1970s as FM radio took off Abrams worked as a consultant to these stations. His main innovation was the "Superstars of Rock and Roll" format designed to appeal to a demographic of white males aged between 12 and 24. Along with his partner Kent Burkhart he introduced the format to more than 100 stations across America. This format eschewed black music such as soul music in favour of white rock acts such as Led Zeppelin. This led to narrowcasting .
Most recently he was the chief innovation officer for the Tribune Company (2008–2010) but prior to that founded XM Satellite Radio and served as Chief Programming Officer at that company until his departure in 2008, founded and ran notable radio consulting company Burkhart/Abrams, served as an internal consultant for ABC Radio, and helped develop nationwide radio formats such as Z-Rock and Radio Disney.
Additionally, he has been involved on the recording side of the music industry, producing Ah Via Musicom for guitarist Eric Johnson and appearing on several Alan Parsons Project CDs. He has also consulted and managed acts such as Yes, The Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, Iron Maiden, and Bob Seger.
On October 15, 2010, Abrams resigned from Tribune Company following revelations that he wrote an email to staff with a link to a video that some within the company considered offensive.
That same day, New York Times public editor Arthur S Brisbane published an editorial questioning his paper's use of anonymous sourcing as one of the "load bearing" elements of the story, particularly as it was a "sensational episode" in a story about a competitor.
On October 19, 2010, Forbes reporter Jeff Bercovici published an email from Abrams defending himself including some specifics not included in mainstream coverage. Notably, that the video was from parody site The Onion and that it had been previously shown at a Chicago Tribune sales meeting to a positive reaction.
- Martin, Richard (October 2004). Would You Buy the Future of Radio From This Man?. 12.10. Wired. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Fred Deane (June 9, 2006). "Up Close with XM Satellite Radio SVP & Chief Creative Officer Lee Abrams". FMQB. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Pulley, Brett (October 15, 2010). "Tribune Co. Executive Abrams Resigns After `Offensive' E-mail With Video". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Brisbane, Arthur S. (October 19, 2010). "Unnamed Sources in Tribune Story Lead Weigh on Readers’ Trust". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
- Bercovici, Jeff (October 19, 2010). "Tribune’s Lee Abrams Defends Himself: "I Will Not Stop Pushing"". Forbes. Retrieved 2010-10-15.