The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 December 2007

Even Fans Find Imus 2.0 Dull And Lifeless


Mounting Complaints About New Imus Show


Three weeks into his resurrected program, Don Imus 2.0 is doing a great job in at least one area: racking up complaints.

Sure enough, those who weren't fans the first time around aren't finding much to write home about this time, either. But the real surprise is how even longtime cheerleaders are also finding the new program underwhelming, to say the least.

Topping the grievances:

A largely- neutered Imus that has clearly been ordered to steer clear of controversy this time around. Obviously, the I-Man knows he must comply with this directive, under penalty of cancellation.

Continuing technical problems that are the result of the new program's focus on television, via RFD-TV, rather than making WABC-AM / New York the priority.

A ridiculous hit list of supposed "foes", which includes anyone who didn't sufficiently "support" Imus after his termination earlier this year. This week, Tom Brokaw found himself the target of the I-Man's silly personal vendetta campaign. Say what you will about Brokaw, but he must have been shaking his head in disbelief. How is this good radio?

Too many supporting cast members this time, some of whom add little to the show's content. Why is the room full of additional people? Are they there to prop him up, or keep Imus out of trouble?

His show is out of touch with "nearly every trend in America." Call it the crust factor.

A forced softening of Imus's harder edges, with a new tendency to suck-up, rather than be the nasty curmudgeon heard previously.

A weird new habit of featuring frequent and lengthy music segments during what is supposed to be a morning talk show. Is this used as filler? This is an especially common complaint.

Your Radio Equalizer hates to say I Told You So, but this outcome was predicted in a November newspaper interview:

Imus' new bosses at WABC promise that drive-time listeners will get the I-Man of old.

"I don't think he will change his personality," said Phil Boyce, vice-president of programming for the station. "He's smarter than that. I told him to get in there and do great radio and don't be afraid to do the kind of radio you feel like doing."

But Brian Maloney, who runs the industry blog, "The Radio Equalizer," doesn't see that happening.

"He won't be within 10 miles of controversy," he said. "He's going to turn it into dullsville public affairs programming and have him stick with fluffy interviews. I'm sorry, but younger audiences just aren't into boring radio."

To be fair, Imus still has some die- hard fans, but whether they are enough to keep the show alive remains to be seen. Though Arbitron did record a listenership spike on Imus's first day back (using new PPM technology), no further data is yet available. After so much publicity leading up to Day One, it's not surprising there was a bump up.

Overall, this has to be seen as a disappointment. Did ABC / Citadel really believe a neutered Imus would attract a large audience and advertiser base? With even longtime fans voicing disappointment, one wonders about the network's thought process going into this deal.

UPDATE: After just three weeks back on the air, Don Imus is already taking at least a full week off, with a substitute host in his place, according to the New York Radio Message Board, citing fill-in talker Mark Simone. With his fledgling show having recently moved to WABC, does that really seem like a good idea?

UPDATE: Via today's Page Six, Al Roker is the latest person on Imus's hit list to defend himself.

UPDATE: An Imus fan site has linked to this post, see their comments below.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • Having been a fan of Imus for nearly 30 years, I can honestly say that racking up complaints is fine by him (besides ratings). Back in his 1.0 days, he coined the phrase we're not happy until you're not happy.

    Steering clear of controversy is an obvious issue at this stage. In fact, on the first or second show, I was worried that this his producer, Bernard McGuirk, would have been silenced this time around; I am glad his mic is back on. In time, the rough edge of Imus, I predict, will also come forward. It is, of course, Christmas week, a time he was always less caustic than other times.

    You are right: technical problems are an issue. Imus used to (rightfully) chide MSNBC reporters who referred to video during their segments, because he always called it a radio-show, first, and TV second. The sooner this is resolved, the better.

    Hit List? Makes sense to me; people like Tim Russert, whom Imus said was one of the few people he would trust to care for his son, abandoned him. Yeah, I would have such a hit list, too, in his place. (In some ways, doesn't Mr. Imus top your hit list?)

    As for too many supporting cast members, the show presently has one more than before. Tony Powell seems to be the fifth wheel, with the return of long-time friend Warner Wolf. As for Karith Foster, she takes the place of Tracy Burgess (WFAN Traffic reporter), so for head-count she's a wash.

    Tom D'Antoni's review is predictable, since Imus has been friends with Sen. Joe Liberman for over 12 years now. It's pretty hard to imagine Mr. D'Antoni saying anything positive about anyone who is friends with the senator. That he believes that Imus is out of touch with trends is not exactly news to long time fans.

    A weird new habit of featuring frequent and lengthy music segments during what is supposed to be a morning talk show. Is this used as filler? - A common complaint? You point to a post made on Dec 6th (ironically on a website whose domain name pays homage to the days when WABC was 'music radio 77'); yet Imus always had live acts, for years. Again, this is new only to people who were never fans before.

    Brian, if Don Imus' ratings aren't where they were before his firing, your predictions will certainly be vindicated. On the other hand if ratings are sufficiently high to keep his ad revenue flowing, he'll last.

    Let's see a couple of books, and then we'll know.

    By Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike, at 21 December, 2007 21:46  

  • Dearest Mr. Baloney,

    Sorry to dissapoint you once again, but Imus fans are thrilled to have him back on the air --he'll be back on a cable near you soon so you'll be able to enjoy the show in high definition. When is it again that your show will be on? That's what I thought. Be careful, Santa is gonna bring you coal again for having a negative attitude.

    Check your facts closely and you'll find that not only are his fans still with Imus, his crew (and even the last remaining MSNBC employees who are able to read and write -- shoutout to Bigfoot!) are with him as well.

    Didn't your mother teach you to not believe everything you read in the papers -- Brokaw will be on Imus' new show, along with anyone else that IMUS chooses to invite.

    Imus fans -- alive and well and happy to have Imus back.

    By Blogger Phyllis, at 21 December, 2007 21:53  

  • Brian,

    You are absolutley wrong that imus is boring. I was never a frequent listener before his firing, but, this time around, Imus is the perfect way to wake up in the morning (I live around Boston so its not like I have much choice anywyas. Felon anyone?).

    I do agree that the technical difficulties are a problem, and I think Imus should just do the show from the studios of WABC.

    I actually like the music, and I believe this is nothing new. I'd like to see all those "common" complaints you are talking about.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 December, 2007 10:52  

  • Brian,

    As usual you always have something to say about Imus. And it is never a good word. The reason it never is good is because you didn't like him to begin with when, in your words was Version 1.

    Imus has been on the air for three weeks. Deals are happening even behind your back that will spread Imus everywhere. And he will prevail again.

    Tell me what radio program at 6AM EST is even close to being this informative and funny! Do you think Boomer and Craig are funny with Sports for 4 hours? How about NPR, there is an exciting station to listen to. NOT!

    I believe that all you want is more attention on your goofy blog by doing this.

    And as far as the Brokaw, Russert, Matthews situation. Sometimes people are too afraid of their reputations to involve themselves by not supporting a friend when they are down. Support is different then defend. Even Imus didn't defend what he said.

    So come January 2nd watch for some interesting news and changes. But please stop your incessant rants and opinions on John Donald Imus.

    In the scheme of things you are very insignificant in the Imus ordeal. We the I-Nation just don't like gits like you.

    By Blogger Bruce, at 22 December, 2007 12:09  

  • The new IMUS show is fantastic. I know those of you who don't watch and didn't watch, probably won't watch. But putting aside your obvious negative, normal bias against IMUS, you are dead wrong, and even more boorish than IMUS is boring.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 December, 2007 12:47  

  • Imus has been boring for years. It's just more obvious now that he's taken over the slot of a more interesting show. Sigh. Frankly, I'm delighted Mark Simone will substitute for a week. HE can be entertaining. ( The Sliwa/Simone combo is also good. It would be fun to have them, too!)

    By Anonymous NYConservative, at 22 December, 2007 14:45  

  • You have no idea what you are talking about---and you are going to find out that Imus has many, many fans and supporters. It's obvious to me that you don't "get Imus" and you miss the point...also obvious that you didn't watch the old show; Imus frequently had musical guests on. I am thrilled that Imus is back and he'll be back as long as he wants to be. Long Live Imus!

    By Anonymous Imus Supporter, at 22 December, 2007 16:57  

  • My name is Kathy Bennett; I had to publish under the choice "anonymous" in order to get this to work. I just wanted to let you know that I disgree with you regarding Imus and that he and his affiliates will definitely have the last laugh. Just wait until January and you'll see. Mark my words---Imus is alive and well and his show is just the best. It's obvious you never even saw the old show. Imus is an icon and he's the best on radio and on television!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 December, 2007 17:00  

  • Ridiculous. Complaints about Imus being too radical, too outspoken and now, complaints about a "neutered Imus" He cannot win in some people's eyes. It's beyond crazy people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22 December, 2007 17:02  

  • Re: UPDATE

    First off, the only thing unusual about Christmas week is that there is a substitute host. Long time fans (such as myself) know he always takes off Christmas week, and in the past played Best of Imus in his stead.

    Obviously, with but 3 weeks in the can (owned by Citadel, that is), and much of it with the technical difficulties we all agree need to go, a substitute host is best.

    Mark Simone is a great host, and seems to thrive on fill-ins.

    Tell me Brian: if Imus pulls at least as good ratings as he did previously, will you find something positive to say about him?

    By Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike, at 22 December, 2007 23:54  

  • I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. I've barely been able to listen the last few weeks. I've been a fan for over 10 years but this new "2.0" version is dull and boring.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 December, 2007 02:03  

  • Dull and boring? Are you nuts? If you saw Friday's show (I bet you didn't) you would know that the show was hilariously wonderful.

    Imus was funny and grouchy, the music was great, Warner was excellent -- EVERYBODY did a fabulous job, the new people too.

    If you didn't see it, okay. If you did and didn't think it was a great show, then you should have asked Santa for a sense of humor for Christmas because the show is good and getting better each day -- what show do you think is better? Imus is the best.

    By Blogger Phyllis, at 26 December, 2007 14:15  

  • Huffington Post pointed out

    "His show is the polar opposite of nearly every trend in America...both politically and stylistically. Period."

    Mainly Imus is now a 23.4%er, a wing nut. Brian, rejoice (he's on your "team" now) as I stated a month ago, he will fail because he bacame a wing nut, and people are running from wingnuttery and conservatism, its a hated and failed ideology.

    Maloney, you agree with Huffington Post? You linked to their article on Imus, being out of touch politically

    As usual my points are valid and taken into consideration by reputable sites like Huffington post. Funny, how the person who everybody loves to insult on here (me) is correct almost every single time

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 26 December, 2007 14:35  

  • As usual your points are lies and half truths. You’re a liar mop that’s all get over your self.

    You will never amount to nothing. Maybe you can be a union steward at your theater and all the kids will listen to you. Behind your back they are laughing at you saying “Can you believe this loser still works in a theater. What a loser”

    By Blogger pf1, at 27 December, 2007 01:01  

  • Look, if I wanted to listen to a show where the host sounded like a combination of Dick Clark and Timmy from South Park, I would turn on Imus. Every once in a while, I do turn him on. I think my personal best is 75 seconds. After that, I go "arrrRRrrRarRRaraaarR" for a few minutes to get the sound of this buffoon out of my head. Then I turn on ANYTHING else.

    I hated Kuby for his racism and glib slander. Curtis was the "You talkin to me?" part of it. I am glad Kuby is gone, but I truly cannot stand his replacement.

    First Bob Grant with his fogginess, now Anus in the Morning with his Timmy impersonation. You gotta wonder what's happened to Phil Boyce.

    By Anonymous Longtime ABC Listener, at 03 January, 2008 00:47  

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