Blow Up the Playbook, Get on Creative Steroids and Completely Reimagine Radio


Radio guru, Lee Abrams, has spent 5 decades in the trenches reinventing Radio, TV News and Print. What advice does the creator of the Album Rock format, the designer of XM satellite programming, and a Grammy award winning producer have for Radio in 2021? “Blow Up the Playbook, Get on Creative Steroids and Completely Reimagine Radio.”


Reimagining radio sounds so simple, yet AFDI, “Actually F——-g Doing It”, an acronym Lee coined during his tenure at XM Radio, is so, so hard.  Lee Abrams is a firm believer the brilliantly executed Radio experience can prevail in the age of the growingly competitive Streaming market but only with radical AFDI.  Imagine if Spotify, Apple, or Amazon created amazing experiences…they haven’t…yet.


Lee’s 10 Tips for Making Creative Radio (which also happen to be the characteristics of Timeless Rock Bands)


  1. Attitude – Create a culture that encourages and rewards evolution and change.
  2. Eccentricity – Hire eccentric people. They are essential in the entertainment business.
  3. Innovation – The driver of everything you do.
  4. Swagger – Do it with a sense of confidence.
  5. Newness – Struggle to be the first.
  6. Create Fans, Not Users – Passionate fans come from connections.
  7. Competitiveness –Fight for success.
  8. Artful –Great art, creates commerce.
  9. Rebellious –Fight the Status Quo.
  10. Mass Appeal Intelligence –Don’t lie to the listener. Listener’s BS meters are on high.


Lee Abrams’ has a lot more advice for today’s radio programmers:


  • Study great stationsfrom the past and consider how you can re-create that magic on today’s terms.
  • Reclaim Core Artists and celebrate the music.
  • Lose the big voicesand outdated Star Wars SFX and use production to transport you listeners employing Theater of the Mind.
  • Up your creative batting average– in baseball a 300 hitter is star. Take more swings, listeners will only remember the good ideas.
  • Cleanse your station of all the outdated clicheslike “Twofer Tuesday” and “Block Party Weekends” and replace with new ideas and features.
  • Targeting young audiences, stop what you are doingand create new and mind-blowing experiences.
  • “Create amazing stations in sync with now, and young people will follow” Lee Abrams, on attracting young people to radio.


For those worried about the “Radio” versus “Audio” debate, Abrams says “Video” never replaced “Movie.” Hollywood made bigger and better films and “Movies’ are still cool today.

Abrams insists “All Radio has to do is create magic and it will be cool again.” Now, please “AFDI.”


Watch Part 1 of our webinar with Lee Abrams “Creating Amazing Radio” here:


Two articles that amplify on this thinking:


Ken Benson is a multi-award-winning contemporary radio and music television programmer. Today, Ken is a co-founder and partner of P1 Media Group, providing insights and strategies to leading media companies around the world. He can be reached at