So Tribune just hired Lee Abrams. From E&P:
The Tribune Co. announced it has appointed Lee Abrams to the newly created position of chief innovation officer, effective April 1. In his new role, Abrams will be responsible for new projects across all the company’s divisions.
Abrams, 55, was most recently the senior vice president and chief creative officer of XM Satellite Radio where he oversaw development and talent. While at XM, he worked with Bob Dylan, Snoop Dogg, Quincy Jones, Willie Nelson, and Wynton Marsalis.
And a check on his own personal blog reveals that he likes B.S.:
And in his notice to Tribune employees, he also can’t help himself: “Please forgive this rambling introduction letter, but I am ecstatic with no-bullshit excitement and pride in joining The Tribune Company.”
Looks like foul language runs in the new Tribune family.
His full “I’m here!” message after the jump…
Please forgive this rambling introduction letter, but I am ecstatic with no-bullshit excitement and pride in joining The Tribune Company.
While my background is in steeped in “Rock n Roll”, I strongly believe that News and Information is the NEW Rock n Roll. Imagine it’s 1952. Music has existed for centuries and part of the fabric of our culture. While music was a hotbed of activity in the Black community, in mainstream America we were in a blase era of Mitch Miller and Patty Page. Thenâ€”Rock n Roll! It had a street level connection to the Post War American Spirit. Tapped into the pulse of the American way of thinking. It was based on: imagination, looking FORWARD, respecting but not praying to the musical playbook, moved fast…met the rhythm of America, worked at innovating–it was a mission to come up with the next cool thing, revolutionized the ‘look’ of people, etc… Now fast forward to 2008, News and Information has been around since the dawn of Man, but it’s a lot like where music was in 1952: Poised for a dynamic breakthrough that re-invest the media. The NEW Rock n Roll isn’t about Elvis or James Dean, but it IS about re-inventing media with the exact same moxie that the fathers of Rock n Roll had. The Tribune has the choice of doing to News/Information/Entertainment what Rock n Roll did to music..to be the Ray Charles, Dylan’s, Beatles and U2’s of the Information age…or have someone else figure it out, or worse, let these American institutions disappear into irrelevancy. I think Rock n Roll is the best choice. America needs a heartbeat, and we can deliver that on 21st Century terms. Rock n Roll musically is behind us. NEWS & INFORMATION IS THE NEW ROCK N ROLL
One thing that drives me nuts is Pop Culture’s evil cousin that I call Junk Culture. Terrorists don’t scare me…a dumb America is frightening. On a very personal level, it is important to me that I help Tribune fight ‘junk culture’. Smart re-invention that enlightens. Websites can be Disneyland for the mind; TV stations (especially news) can put the Kent Brockman cliche to rest and create a visual experience that intoxicates with brilliance and freshness; And Newspapers! We owe it to our culture to make sure they thriveâ€¦We can make America smarter. Not more elite…just smarter.
I realize I have a history in radio, but that’s behind me, nonetheless there’s a great radio analogy. In 1954 Radio was proclaimed dead. In fact, you can take stories from back then about radio’s death and substitute the word newspaper and you have 99% of the articles written today suggesting Newspapers impending death. Well, a couple of guys threw out the Arthur Godfrey playbook invented Top 40 Radio. Guess what. Radio went into a NEW golden age…bigger than ever…the soundtrack of the streets. TV? It got bigger and bigger. My point:
Yes, the Internet is huge competition, but there’s NO reason we can’t create the equivalent of Top 40…Not a hyper teen thing. But something that has the same dramatic impact across all demographics and lifestyles. It’s doable.
Soul. I hope I can bring that out in us. Soul is something that big companies rarely have. And having it not only improvers the spirit, but it’s a competitive advantage. Most media companies are soul-less.
If we have Soul, we have a dramatic intangible advantage.
Historically, the great companies had Soul. In the modern era, they do not. You know the ones that do. Those companies have FANS not just users.
Art. How unfashionable in today’s bottom line World. But we need to be artists. Media Artists. A great artist delivers something that lasts and touches people. If we approach EVERYTHING from mail delivery in the building to breaking stories with an artist Point of View, we will create lasting change. Artists create Quality. Quality lasts. Art enriches lives. We can/will re-define the art of brilliant media.
The economics. I am an economic dunce. My old company would give me free vacation days during budget season so I’d stay out of the process. I know the “buzz” is cutbacks, fear, paranoia etc…Hey—that’s part of the reality for survival. But I hope to encourage revenue growth in a different way. Simply put–If Tribune properties turn users into fans and we make intelligent moves to significantly (and dramatically) increase circulation and viewrship, the revenue WILL skyrocket. That I know. But I’ve also witnessed creative people being beaten up by the financial realities to the point where it’s taken their eye off the future and are operating under fear and nostalgia. How about channeling the fear into writing the future. Everyone will win…emotionally, creatively and economically.
Speaking of intelligent moves, that’s what change is all about.
Intelligent. Whoever buys Wrigley Field would be foolish to tear down the Ivy…There’s Ivy at Tribune media properties. But then again, there’s opportunity. For all of you Baseball historians, we need some Bill Veeck magic (Check the archives) in the Company. He’s the guy that put up the Ivy in the first placeâ€¦and created thousands of innovations that helped take “Baseball is dead. its an NFL World” to record attendance. Eccentric All The Way to the Bank.
If we can morph the Soul of Dylanâ€¦with the innovation of Apple and the eccentric-all-the-way-to-the-bank of Bill Veeck, the WORLD will be a better place. WE have that opportunity.
PASSION, CHARACTER AND MUSCLE: Passion is just that. Like Soul and Artâ€”intangibles that Joe Media Executive doesn’t “get”, but are secret weapons in the mission of enlightening people with our content.
Character is the need to LIVE outside the envelope (cliche–sorry). And Muscle is what we have. This company is bad ass big—-channeled right, that muscle can change the world!
Creative Batting Average. I hope to bat 400. That’s where of every 100 ideas I feed you, 40 are usable. But MORE importantly, I hope to raise YOUR creative batting average, with the goal being a COMPANY batting average that is SO far above the competioon, that the Tribune is THE Media All Star that is admired, loved and deeply respected, not for it’s history, but for the effects the high batting average has on Today’s fan, advertiser and the American street.
Average sucks. Best to be brilliantly good, or SO bad, it’
engaging. It’s that evil zone of average that American Media is stuck in. WE MUST not accept average. Fight it! It’s gotten to be accepted that average is fine. No it’s not…it sucks!
Theater of the Mind. We have to play there. We gotta deliver the magic that gets in people’s heads. As a kid I’d have dreams about comic characters that I’d read in the Tribune. We need to have such an impact on the imagination that people dream about us. Sounds spacy and obscure? It is. But once we impact the theater of the mind that lives in everyone’s head, with Internet, Print and TVâ€¦we have touched people on a level that they need and want to be touchedâ€¦but outside of a Star Wars epic, media hasn’t done in years.
I’m looking forward to meeting and bonding with everyone in the Company. Personally, this isn’t a gigâ€¦it’s a MISSION. And being based in Chicago is nice as my off duty passions include Chicago History, Lifelong White Sox Superfan(I guess I’m OK there since I understand Mr. Zell owns a piece), ephemera (I love print) and aviating! I grew up in suburban Flossmoor. I know we’re a global company, but my love for Chicago is life long.
If you have a chance, check my blog. http://leeabrams.blogspot.com Read all 108 posts. It’s generally aimless ranting about what is wrong with media. On April 1, I will cease writing it since now I’ll have the chance to actually help do something about it!
I REALLY look forward to April 1. I think you’ll find me a little out thereâ€¦but for the right reasons! I have complete empathy for what everyone doesâ€¦and a burning desire to help you/me/us Change the World and design the future. We can/will do that! (And have some fun along the way)