Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Effective April 1, I will be heading to Chicago. My new email (After April 1) will be:

Heard a lot of rumors about why I am leaving XM for the Tribune. There is only ONE reason: A remarkable opportunity. I guess I have this thing for danger. Going with FM at a time when FM was literally housed in closets playing Doctors Office music...Going with XM at a time when no-one said people would pay for radio (almost 20 million are FYI)...and now going to a business that some say is on life support. I think Randy Michaels, myself and the people I'll be working with are pretty good media surgeons...with high confidence that we'll do our part to help create a renaissance and a new level of health, happiness, well being and prosperity with the people and brands of Tribune. Lofty words, but that’s the plan. THAT'S why I am leaving XM. It has NOTHING to do with: Mergers, Firings, or any other high drama. The Tribune mission is an opportunity that you just can't pass up.

Leaving XM is hard. There are way, way too many memories (bad, good, strange, whacked and funny) to reminisce in this forum, but I can’t think of a place I've been that has been more memorable and magical. There WILL be a book.

The upside for me is now I can listen to XM as a fan...without a legal pad.

Ad astra per aspera


At 7:31 AM, Anonymous KJones said...

Lee, Congratulations and Good Luck. This blog will be missed, but you've clearly stated your reasons for not continuing with it, and that is to be respected.

Thanks for all you've done to make XM what it is today.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Joe Shelby said...

I guess my only concern is that you seemed to be a powerful, charismatic force for XM and its approach to music programming, and that without you batting for XM's DJs/managers, more of Sirius's (in my opinion) weaker channels will survive the merger than XM's.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Jason said...


Your blog has been very inspirational. I am one of the many to whom XM is something special.

I am a country music fan, and I bet that we will be reading about XM in the country music history books some day. It came just when genuine country needed it. Good karma for you and Ray Knight.

God bless.


At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Shannon West said...

I smiled when I saw the words "for awhile" in the title. New adventures always take up time and energy so stopping by to blog is harder but I will miss your insights and creativity in real time, which is what blogs have over books. But don't backburner the book! We're waiting....

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have closely followed your career since WQDR. You are the primary reason I subscribe to XM. Best of everything in your new opportunity. I echo the apprehension expressed by Joe Shelby above. You may be gone from XM, but your work will live on.
God Bless.
Bill Enloe III

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous raindog said...

Mr. Abrams,

I'm a free lance reporter, who, BTW, covers the Tribune in its new life, and I've been reading your memos to staff on your vision for change.

I thought I'd comment in a purely gratuitous -- and perhaps unwelcome -- way, as I believe there are some fundamental flaws in your view that the the newspaper business is akin to the rock and roll revolution. This is not just sniping; perhaps this can be of help.

You R&R analogy is seductive but a non sequitur IMHO, because:

People's day to day activity generally breaks down into two categories: intellect and affect.

For the most part people's actions are motivated by affect -- what makes them feel better -- even though they may believe they're rigorously intellectual about decisions.

That being the case, you're mixing apples and oranges with the R&R analogy. Newspapers trade in intellectual activity for the most part. R&R is pure affect. You will not be able to make newspaper reading a primarily affective experience. That's what comic books are for.

The Internet is giving newspapers a run for their money because its' Face Book and other popular sites empower the largely powerless people out here struggling against Leviathan and juggernaut economics.

Now, that said, there are other ways to appeal to a larger audience with newspapers, and that's taking the strong suits of both Internet's appeal and newspapers' traditional strenghth.

Hence, I think newspapers shouldn't "dumb down" into entertainment outlets, but empower readers with sharp, pithy, incisive writing that stands out in its empowering quality.

Many people hunger for the ability to express themselves in a growing polemical and partisan world. This is where newspapers can make a contribution consistent with their nature. One might also postscript each hard news story with a short analysis by the reporter (or a separate analyst) which could point out logical contradictions, predictable rebuttals and solecisms in the story's protagonists, etc.

One might also introduce another empowering feature in which each major story is appended with a promise to revisit coverage of it in a certain time period.

There all many such innovatons possible here -- but all trade on a newspaper's traditional strength and the public's hunger for relevance, voice and empowerment.


Mike Corrigan

P.S. I do think, however, your most recent posting ideas about "touching nerves" is the right approach

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck, Lee, from an XM fan who has worked in every medium. Your job will be particularly big on the newspaper side, where the mantra is "We can't do that." You'll be astounded by the attitudes and the petty politics.

At 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck! I look forward to reading how you get on at Tribune. It's an inspiration to see you try new things. If you need an asisstant...I'm in the area!
Erin Forfa

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous DonBeno said...

Are you going to gather all the Tribune employees at your house, get a big bonfire going and have them throw out the old playbooks?

Lee, Good Luck.
Welcome back to the Windy City!


At 5:31 PM, Blogger Chad said...

Having wanted to work at XM's since its launch, I was finally lucky enough to get a gig 6 months ago. You really built something magical. I hope we dont fuck it up! Thanks

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Dr.Alvaro Gaynicotche said...

Hi,Lee! Second post from downunder Uruguay. Your posts on this blog were inspirational for my FM radio show.
Let me tell you that I have printed lots of your reasonings to learn while reading them at bed ,bathroom, even on the beach.
That's supposed to be a newspaper!! we cannot say good luck!...cause you're gonna make it anyway on The Tribune.
Kind regards from Montevideo

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts to stick in your pocket:

--Please respect the traditions of the established station(s) you encounter. WGN's as much a part of Chicago as Wrigley and the wind. There's a reason. Learn what it is, then act. Not the other way around.

--Re-think your opposition to hiring people who are currently out of work. Just as the stock market right now is a buying opportunity, the job market is a hiring opportunity. People are available who still have a lot of magic in them (I'm not pitching. I'm locked up).

--Platforms will matter less and less, and will soon be undifferentiated. I became an XM listener and a too-heavy satellite radio stockholder in the '90's because of the distinct differences between platforms. Before long, a superior platform will no longer be a competitive advantage. Sticks, satellites, the net, it really won't matter. It'll all be about what you got.

--Get over your feeling about ballsy voices. If they're phony, kick them out. But if they're natural, you gotta know the ladies love 'em. Still.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Rick said...

Hi Lee
Well, back when I was 18, I had a the pleasure to meet and hang with you and Chris Squire, after the "Tormato"
tour show in Atlanta back in 1977 'I believe..we ended up
at the former stage managers home after the show.
Sipping on Brandy, smoking Dunnhills and slamming down iced coffee, we stayed intol the early AM. Even listed to
"Fish out of Water" with Squire sitting next to me at the table while I listened to Chris and Steve Dove tech talk.
There was another time (around 1980)when you asked me to pick up Chris and his (former wife) Nikki Squire at ATL airport for you because you had meetings at the NMR convention downtown. Wow, So I gladly borrowed Dick's company car from 96 rock and picked them up at the airport.
My reason for commenting, is because I never got to thank you for allowing those surreal moments to happen WAY back when I was at 96 rock. Hope you are well, and congrats on your recent weightloss and your move to "The Tribune"
Cheers RM

At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


BTW, Lefsetz had an intersting post today--again calling Ethel out for being just awful--he literally said how it made you hate the music-please someone put me in a time machine so I can listen to Rick Lambert's passionate, knowledgable, surprising, and yes, familiar Ethel.

Hope you're doing well--you are already sorely missed. Can't wait for the tell-all. Especially the chapter on Ethel and the chapteron how XM stopped caring about sound quality.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you think you could post a few tid bits on how you lost the weight? Maybe specific diet tips, specific foods, mental tools.

just curious--I can see it now--Lee Abrams, diet guru.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm (), VietNam

I like this blog is so cool

Anyway, It's nice to see your blog

God Bless you

Thanks for sharing. Again

At 5:07 AM, Blogger Mr.galle said...

Hello, this brog is nice!!
I already link to this page.
If you don't mind. Please link to my blog this URL

At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should have stayed in radio:

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

XM is going down the toilet, with or without Lee at the helm. But it will certainly happen faster now that he is leaving.

Already XM has begun to kill channels , dumbing down their programming to match the utterly awful drivel that populates the Sirius airwaves.

So sad to watch this as the whole point of satellite radio for me was creative programming and things you CANT hear on FM. No one needs 200 channels of FM like programming. What we need is good quality underground shows produced by people that really love the music, art, comedy that they are presenting.

What a shame.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous R. Anthony Botti said...

Good Day, Mr. Abrams.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go easy on me in the book buddy.

Crystal McKenzie

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous ai4i said...

Beyond Jazz and Fine Tuning were two channels you spoke of with pride. We see what has happened. You knew when to bail.

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous ai4i said...

You spoke of Beyond Jazz and Fine Tuning with such pride. We see what has become of them. You knew when to bail.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Hey man,

Why not start this blog up again?

You are a successful person who communicates well. I've learned a lot form this blog.
Even if you take the radio angle out of it, there is a lot of value in your posts.

I'm also eagerly awaiting the book about XM you talked about writing.
I hope you get around to it!


At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee. I just want to say that I learnt recently that you were one of the primary reasons I fell in love with XM.

When I first bought into XM I knew I was getting satellite radio, digital broadcasts, commercial free stations and genres that I might not even have had interest in.

Lee, I didn't know that I would be exposed to music I'd never heard before and love it. I didn't know that people who were passionate had a medium to program music. XM opened my eyes to music in a way that was as monumental as when MP3 technology was created. I fell in love with music just like I had when I was growing up.

I sense the change now, it feels like Clear Channel. I'll say only this, thank you so much for the effect you had and the experience you helped create.

I wish you only the best.

At 10:49 PM, Anonymous bath mateus said...

So nice your posting.
Everything looks good in your posting.
That will be necessary for all. Thanks for your posting.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger Jason said...

The book man....the XM book...WE WANT IT!!!!



Post a Comment

<< Home