The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

26 May 2005

Another Imus Controversy Leads To Termination


What Keeps Don Imus On The Air?

How does a crusty, mean-spirited, Kerry-supporting fossil like Don Imus manage to stay on the air?

Does he have the best lawyers, who write iron-clad contracts? A world-class superagent? Compromising photos of corporate execs? All of the above?

Or is it simply the age-old art of coasting on one's earlier success, where a shrinking energy level meets increasing compensation? That's the Radio Equalizer's best guess.

Something has to explain how Imus manages to remain not only on major radio stations in New York, Boston and other cities, while keeping his morning MSNBC similcast, despite one ugly controversy after another.

It certainly isn't a strong ratings performance: he's been slowly fading into the New York sunset for 20 years. New breakdowns should be available in the next few days and no big surge is expected to be revealed.

Nor is it energy, personality, passion, prep work, or other redeeming characteristics that might give stations a continuing reason to run his morning program.

Recently, it's even worse than bad, boring talk programming, it's simply jerk radio. When was he last entertaining? Who can remember?

While never regarded as warm and fuzzy, recently it's become increasingly mean, in a way that ought to scare advertisers away for good.

Could Rush Limbaugh, or other conservative talkers, get away with these hate-filled on-air antics? Of course not.

Just this year alone, months after he proclaimed his support for elitist presidential candidate John Kerry, Imus and his program sidekicks have been embroiled in one horrible flap after another.

The latest involves slimy sidekick Sid Rosenberg, who sang a disgusting tune about pop singer Kylie Minogue's breast cancer disclosure, which led to his firing after a week of public pressure and red-faced execs.

Why did Imus keep him around this long? Look at his track record, according to the Post:

The bad-boy sports-talker underwent rehab earlier this year for an admitted addiction to crack cocaine.

Four years ago, he was suspended for saying tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams were better suited for National Geographic than Playboy.

He has also called female soccer players "juiced-up dykes," claimed "faggots play tennis," and said Palestinians were "stinking animals."

Why wasn't Rosenberg fired ages ago, in face of these incidents? Are advertisers aware of what they're associating with here?

Imus is just as responsible for this as Rosenberg, as he controls the show's content and knows his history. Why shouldn't he be held accountable?

Is anyone asking MSNBC why they still carry this program?

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal blew the lid off of Imus's charity, a New Mexico ranch with enough amenities to rival Neverland, where $2.6 million was spent to help just 100 ill children.

Investigators, government and media alike, have wondered whether the small charitable aspect was really just a tax dodge for a personal retreat.

Then, a few weeks ago, a news anchor Imus fired, aired her grievances and got this public response, according to the New York Post:

DON Imus didn't like being called "a cantankerous old fool" by MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on PAGE SIX. Brewer, a former news reader on Imus' show, also said the I-man doesn't know how to relate to "beautiful women."

"With that fat ass she's got, she wouldn't be one of 'em," Imus said on the air Friday. "That skank has to spend three hours with makeup in the morning ... Who's she kidding? . . . Plus, she's dumber than dirt ... Oh, my God, what a pig.

But I was willing to cut her some slack and not say anything, you know, until - in fact, I didn't say anything . . . That's why they have those big double-doors there at MSNBC, you know, so they can get her fat ass in makeup."

An MSNBC spokesman said: "Contessa Brewer is a valued and respected employee. While Don Imus' humor is often brilliant and provocative, we believe that this morning's comments about Contessa went over the line. We have expressed our displeasure to Don."

It isn't just about hate-filled controversies, there's a competency factor, as well. Aside from the fact it's hard to understand what he's mumbling most of the time, he's become politically confused, moving increasingly into the liberal camp.

During last year's campaign, Imus repeatedly proclaimed his support for Kerry, but when interviewing him, had a hard time justifying his stance, in the face of the latter's inconsistent answers.

Mel Karmazin, now head of SIRIUS, was asked yesterday, at the company's annual meeting, about the possibility of hiring Imus for the sat broadcaster and gave this response, according to CBS Marketwatch:

The only way the company would pursue another high-profile radio personality -- such as Don Imus, whom he was asked about at the meeting -- would be if that person would help Sirius reach cash-flow profitability sooner than it anticipated.

"Imus, if he was available, would be [great], but it comes down to the math. He's very greedy," Karmazin said, eliciting a wave of laughter from the crowd.

When someone with Karmazin's experience and expertise, doesn't see the financial justification for fossil radio in his increasingly popular new medium, why do broadcast stations still need this jerk?


  • No exec has the guts to fire him!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 07:54  

  • He speaks as if he has a mouth full of marbles. Don Imus and Larry King must have the greatest managers in entertainment.

    By Blogger Lidsville, at 26 May, 2005 09:47  

  • No doubt, Maggie and Lidsville! Well said.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 10:01  

  • With MSM, it's not hard to figure: He's a liberal, so he stays. Ditto Larry (boredom) King and the baggy-eyed Bulshevik.

    By Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box, at 26 May, 2005 11:10  

  • In Boston he used to air on sports radio WEEI. Low ratings for the show led to a decision to not renew his contract and they decided to go with their own team of John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. "D&C" promptly took off in the ratings while Imus fled to FM talker WTKK (which also has Mike Barnicle, Jay Severin, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham)--Bob Nelson

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 12:53  

  • He supported for Kerry. Oh my. Better not listen to him now. I stopped watching Tim Burton movies because he was a nasty Republican.

    If I held that same distorted view I wouldn't read right-wing blogs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 13:13  

  • Wow...just wow.

    The person above me has effectively taken one minor point in the whole story and whacked off to it.

    The point is simple: Don Imus is a old defective race horse that needs to be put out to stud. He just doesn't connect with people anymore.

    That is what the point is, not that he supported John Kerry.

    And people wonder why I roll my eyes at Anonymous people.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 26 May, 2005 19:16  

  • I don't care or know about Imus, except his slogan"Imus in the morning".

    I do agree with "anonymous" that leading with "a Kerry supporter" is crude on Brians part, it is devisive. I mean, I like a lot of people who supported Skerry, and a lot of people who supported Shrub and a lot of people who supported none of the above. Why can't we focus on common demoninators Brian, it is usually more productive :-)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 19:31  

  • ..denominators (typo alert)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 19:36  

  • Admit it. Your real beef with Imus is that he dared to support Kerry. You're a fraud.

    By Blogger SFOrange, at 26 May, 2005 20:01  

  • I like this blog because it provides interesting analysis on radio programs.

    However, leading off with the fact Imus supported Kerry seems rather petty though I do agree with the fact he seems to be on the decline.

    I will continue to listen to him because he brings on interesting political guests and reporters and generally conducts good interviews that are fairly impartial.

    Most radio talk shows force a right-wing or left-wing bias upon the listener. Imus leans left but is open-minded and Bernard and Charles lean right. I don't like his over the top insults but Rush Limbaugh is pretty insulting but he is given a pass by right wing bloggers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 May, 2005 20:25  

  • I think the Kerry reference is appropriate. Imus used to be a maverick type Republican. I used to enjoy watching him so much I named my dog after him. The only good thing about that is nobody seems to know what the name means. I'm embarrassed to tell them. To give you an idea how quick he changed my dog is only 3 years old.

    By Blogger RUMPLEMINTZ, at 27 May, 2005 09:21  

  • His Kerry support isn't the main point, but one of them.

    He expressed his endorsement repeatedly for Kerry on the air. This was a flip-flop for Imus, in the past he'd been a Republican.

    But when interviewing Kerry, he came away frustrated, not able to determine where Kerry stood.

    But he'd been that way the whole campaign, it didn't start with the Imus guest spot.

    If Imus had been following the campaign at all, he'd have known Kerry was inconsistent.

    That's why it's relevant. He didn't know why he'd taken his position, a very bad sign for a talk host.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 27 May, 2005 12:49  


    What does Imus mean? I wasn't aware of his politics, maybe Brian should have filled some of us in about his recent past instead of using "kerry" like it is a dirty word

    commenting on:
    Most radio talk shows force a right-wing or left-wing bias upon the listener. Imus leans left but is open-minded and Bernard and Charles lean right. I don't like his over the top insults but Rush Limbaugh is pretty insulting but he is given a pass by right wing bloggers.

    8:25 PM

    ---I agree with your thoughts on the postives of being open-minded, and that whether your are leaning left or right--being over the top is non-productive and tiresome. I also find it to be a contradiction about Rush getting a pass.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 27 May, 2005 12:56  

  • "Kerry" is a dirty word. :)

    By Blogger RUMPLEMINTZ, at 27 May, 2005 13:11  

  • Is anyone asking MSNBC why they still carry this program?

    No, because no one watches that network. Even their own executives don't watch it enough to know Imus is on their air.

    By Blogger Jason, at 29 May, 2005 13:40  

  • It's his shtick, Brian. Don't get so upset. At least he is entertaining, unlike Air America. And I voted for W.

    P.s. I have no problem with Sterns or the Greaseman either.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 May, 2005 17:56  

  •'s Imus and the Flies editorial about sums it all up.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16 June, 2005 17:59  

  • Bill Bennett (abort black babies) and Rush Limbaugh (drug addled ramblings) need to be removed along with nitwits like Imus, Savage, Beck, Grace et. al. If I want stupid racial 13 year old humor I will hang out with my buddies and after seven or eight beers we will start to sound like the Bennetts, Limbaughs and Imus nitwits etc.

    By Blogger Maxx, at 09 April, 2007 16:48  

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