The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 September 2005

Imus Show Faces Shaky Future

Wagons Circle Around Imus

Stations Plan Show's Removal, More Internal Problems

Crusty Kerry-supporting "cowboy" curmudgeon Don Imus could finally be facing the music for his jerky antics.

Somehow, Imus has been able to combine acerbic behavior with a mumbling, often incoherent performance and sagging ratings.

Who else gets away with this?

The Radio Equalizer's long been baffled by endless industry tolerance for the King of Broadcast Egos. Now there are signs his luck may finally be running out.

He's just been cancelled by Richmond, Virginia's WTOX-AM, to be replaced by a local talk host.

And the Boston Herald's Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa report he may be also on the way out at WTKK-FM, which has a strangely New York-centric lineup for a Beantown station:

Is 96.9 FM Talk ready to send morning man Don Imus back to the ranch?

Rumor has it the conservative yak station is fed up with the cranky cowboy's tired schtick and might send him packing next April when his contract with WTKK-FM is up.

And there's already buzz on the radio wire that Imus ``will be available'' when his gig at 'TKK is up.

``I don't see how that's possible,'' station GM Matt Mills told the Track. ``We'd obviously like to renew his contract when it ends in April. We plan to do that.''

Now, we know Imus fans won't be surprised to hear that there's no love lost between the talk station and its 5:30-to-10 a.m. yakker.

In fact, last St. Patrick's Day, the Big Apple blarneyman balked at blowing into Boston for 'TKK's annual ``Kiss Me I'm Imus'' live broadcast for advertisers and listeners. And it wasn't until station management got on the blower to Imus' syndicator, Westwood One, and talked tough that Imus finally showed at Fenway's .406 Club.

Ratings-wise, ``Imus in the Morning'' isn't exactly a powerhouse for 'TKK in that all-important male 25-54 age group.

In the last five ratings books - Spring 2004 to Spring 2005 - the perennially PO'd morning man weighed in after WEEI's sports yakkers Dennis & Callahan; Howard Stern's strippers-on-parade on WBCN; and all-news WBZ-AM. Classic rock WZLX even beat him a few books back.

And after the recent housecleaning at Providence's WHJJ-AM, it's hard to believe he'll be sticking around in Rhode Island much longer, either.

The Radio Equalizer previously covered the I-Man's legal and professional troubles here.

In other Imus news, the New York Daily News reports this:

Morning host Imus of WFAN (660 AM) yesterday expressed sympathy for and frustration with Sid Rosenberg, his former sports guy who resigned from WFAN Monday morning.

Rosenberg, who received treatment earlier this year for multiple gambling and substance addictions, made a paid appearance in Atlantic City Saturday, then failed to show up for his scheduled gig on the WFAN Giants pregame show Sunday.

Although there was no official word on whether his absence was due to a relapse, management reportedly gave him the choice of resigning or being fired.

"I know something about this [addiction]," said Imus, a veteran of alcohol and drug problems.

"I tried to help him as much as I could. We all did. But in the end, you have to want to help yourself."

Rosenberg returned to the Imus show after rehab, but lost that gig when he made a crude remark about singer Kylie Minogue's breast cancer. He remained co-host of the midday show with Joe Benigno, the gig he quit on Monday.

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  • The subtitle of this piece, referring to Sid Rosenberg, has little to do with the overall point. Yes, Sid was a part of the Imus show, but after the foolish comment about Ms. Minogue, he was removed. The downward spiral of his life after that has little to do with Imus, unless it can be shown the show lost ratings after his removal (and some have said as much).

    Imus has been a fixture for three decades, and in that time his support for candidates changes about as often as temperment. Somehow I doubt Sen. Kerry really relished Imus' endorsement which more often than not consisted of comments to the effect "I support Sen. Kerry... for now." To have heard the I-Man rant against the Senator for bypassing his ranch on his whistle-stop tour -- complete with references of the sick children who were disappointed to see the Seantor's train roll on by -- is hardly the kind of press any candidate wants.

    Yes, his ratings are down now, but why should he worry? He's rich, he still draws a fairly considerable audience (both radio and TV), he draws A-List guests, and in spite of your snipe, he is really is providing for sick children.

    By Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike, at 15 September, 2005 09:18  

  • ...a mumbling, often incoherent performance and sagging ratings. Who else gets away with this?

    Larry King.

    By Blogger BF, at 15 September, 2005 09:24  

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