The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

07 March 2008

Troubled Citadel-ABC Radio Moves Forward With Imus Plan


Imus Expansion Highlights Short-Term Thinking

Does Don Imus really represent talk radio's future, or its past?

If you lean toward the latter viewpoint, you're not alone. But within what's left of the radio industry, this fossil talker is somehow seen as fit for stations nationwide, even in cities that rejected him decades earlier, if they ever carried him at all.

At 67 years old (68 in July), is this really an appropriate time to launch the crustmeister nationwide? Especially given lukewarm ratings results since his New York City return, where he once maintained a large audience, the timing is curious.

And yet, financially- troubled Citadel- ABC Radio is busy plugging Imus into places where his potential is shaky at best, including Atlanta:

Not surprisingly, Citadel, owners of the 106.7 signal, announced they are going to switch to oldies on Eagle after the NASCAR race Sunday.

So say hello, hello, to the Beatles, the Supremes and the Beach Boys. Say goodbye, goodbye to Toby Keith, Johnny Cash and Faith Hill.

And although his name was not included in the release, Don Imus will be joining True Oldies 106.7 as a syndicated host. (Oh, and NASCAR fans, no worries: the races are staying on 106.7.)

Yes, at least there, Imus will be heard on an oldies station, rather than a news/ talker. But how at this point in his career could he become newly- established in a competitive media market like Atlanta's?

Sure, much of this is about cost- cutting: the new oldies station will have no local presence anywhere in its lineup. It's also about talk radio's dried- up talent pool, however: after years of wiping out any trace of promising, up- and- coming personalities, the industry (not just Citadel) seems determined to milk every last drop out of a few tired dinosaurs.

Age alone isn't the issue, actually: Rush Limbaugh ten years from now will probably sound considerably younger than Imus does now, while Bob Grant is still a pleasure to hear at almost 79 years of age. Imus is 67 going on 107, that's the difference.

But this wouldn't be a good time to syndicate Grant, so why does Citadel believe it can shove Don Imus down the throats of radio listeners nationwide?

And what does the entire industry have against developing future talent? Imagine if a major- league baseball team canned its youngest and most promising players in the name of budget cuts. That might not hurt them for a year or two, but how well would that work over the long term?

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

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  • Awww, Brian. You know that 10,000 hamburgers to go bit is off the HOOK! And watch out! Moby Worm will eat your school! Ha-ha-ha!

    By Blogger Brady Bonk, at 08 March, 2008 19:19  

  • Imus lost his relevance years ago, and I agree, it's not age, as Bob Grant is still extremely relevant. Imus is spent. Curtis and Kuby were beating him in the ratings in NYC when we was down the dial. Citadel is clearly out to destroy ABC.

    By Blogger PRLiz, at 10 March, 2008 12:53  

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