Sunday, September 30, 2007

Man's Best Buddy

Let's say that your beloved pet suddenly died, and his death was then mocked by strangers on the radio. How would you feel? Slightly homicidal, right?

When Bill Clinton's dog Buddy died in 2002, the Imus cast naturally had a field day with it. The following article describes that day, but it also discusses what makes the Imus show so special: its ability to make us laugh at the truly horrible things, to somehow probe our id and find the things that we would never dare say in public.

The Imus crew always used humor that cut very close to the bone. Let's hope that they keep that when they come back.


David Hinckley

New York Daily News

January 9, 2002

I saw a T-shirt recently that read "It's Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt. ... Then It's Hilarious."

Naturally, I thought at once of radio comedians, whose lifeblood is the misfortune of everyone else. Then I thought of it again last week when Bill and Hillary Clinton's Labrador retriever, Buddy, was killed by a car and WFAN morning man Imus pounced on the story like a starving man who just found a case of Imus Brothers salsa.

Basically, said Imus, who fires up the chain saw every time he hears the word "Clinton," this proves again that Bill and Hillary take so little responsibility for anything that they couldn't even bother to keep their dog from running into traffic.

When Imus read the Clintons' statement that Buddy had been a wonderful, faithful companion, Imus sidekick Bernard McGuirk cracked that this sounded like the statement they issued when Vince Foster died.

And so it went, because that's what Imus and his posse do. They make wise-guy remarks. They're funny.

But I also know that when your dog dies, it hurts, and I started thinking about those pictures of Bill Clinton taking Buddy for walks. Maybe those were only photo ops. Maybe not. Maybe, like dog owners everywhere, the most powerful man in the free world realized that Buddy, in contrast to his human friends, was actually happy to see him even when he'd acted like a jerk.

On your worst day, your dog still likes you. Small wonder we get attached to them. Maybe when Buddy dies, we could just say we're sorry.

Of course, the fact the Imus banter made some people uncomfortable also probably means it worked. If you can't flat-out offend someone in the radio comedy game, making them uncomfortable is a good second choice.

In that way, the Buddy riff recalled the day Rush Limbaugh admitted to his listeners he was going deaf.

The words had barely left his lips before the on-air jokes started - not on the Imus show - about how no hearing in his left ear for Rush wasn't a problem, it was an answered prayer. Or, alternately, that it was redundant.

Loss of hearing, like the death of a pet, is for most of us just sobering. We think about it - what if you loved music and could never hear it again? - and we instinctively feel bad for anyone to whom it happens.

So maybe the challenge for radio comedians is to push through that moment of human weakness and make the jokes anyhow. Once you learn to ignore the "Do Not Offend" signs, the little town of Hilarious can't be far up the road.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Weekend at Bernie's

Way back in 2000, the New York Times did a story on Bernard McGuirk. It’s an interesting profile of a fascinating, funny guy.

The writer is pretty floored by the idea that a person can 1. make off-color jokes on the air, yet 2. be a good person and family man off the air. Memo to the Times: It's possible.

The word on the street is that Bernie won’t be a part of the new Imus in the Morning program. And that is a damn shame.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Imus Comeback - Still Happening

OK, sorry for the lack of updates. Life got in the way.

But, unless you haven't heard, Kinky Friedman appeared on "Morning Joe" Thursday morning and pretty much said that Imus was coming back "sooner" rather than later. Hopefully Mr. Friedman was not referring to the Oklahoma football team.

There are a couple of things seriously wrong with that article. First off, his name is spelled "Kinki." People, Kinky Friedman is not a woman. Secondly, Mr. Friedman apparently made those remarks to "Joe Scarbourgh" on "Thurdsday." And the article is under seventy-five words. Sad.

The Imus career announcement will have to be made in an appropriate media venue. That said, I will admit it would have been the hottest thing ever if the Big Imus Announcement was made on fucking Morning Joe, by Kinky Friedman. Oh snap!

Anyway, I promise that I'll stop slacking and that a nice article will come your way. If I could only get some sleep first...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Skillful, Funny, and Downright Blasphemous

So on the surface, this is a really great article. It's from 1981, and it talks about Imus' recent "comeback," his adventures with his "writer-friend," and all of the crazy success he's been having. And, of course, the article is chock-full of scary, ironic parallels to 2007. So these reasons alone make it a classic.

But then...well...let's just say that near the very end of the article...something is thrown in that put me a little off-guard. (And by "off-guard," I mean "laughing hysterically and going 'Oh no they DIDN'T!'") Maybe I'm just immature - I'll let you guys be the judge of that.

Anyway, sit back and enjoy this article off the AP wire, written by Tom Jory and published June 23, 1981.

For fans in places as widely separated as Cleveland, Sacramento and Palmdale, Calif., Don Imus is back in the Big City with more regular listeners than ever before and an hilarious first novel about to be published.

"I'm not filthy anymore," says Imus, morning man -- for the second time -- at New York's WNBC.

"I'd say things that would embarass people, including me," he says of his first go-round in New York radio, a six-year fling that ended in summary discharge and return -- another one of those -- to Cleveland.

"We work a lot harder now," he says, including Charles McCord, his writer-friend and the news announcer on his morning show, in the equation, "and I think the show is a lot better."

"I'd won all the awards -- was Disc Jockey of the Year -- and every guy in radio knew me," Imus says. "You've worked in New York, then you're fired, and you go to Cleveland -- you never get back.

"When I couldn't get another job in New York, it wasn't that I wasn't any good anymore. It was because I was -- to put it crudely -- a jerk."

Because radio today is essentially a local medium, Imus' name may mean little or nothing to even heavy listeners outside of the cities in which he has worked -- the aforementioned, plus Stockton, Calif.

Suffice it to say the audience for the morning show on WNBC more than quadrupled after his return from Cleveland in September 1979 -- to an estimated 1.7 million each week. "Without a doubt," says his boss at WNBC, general manager Bob Sherman, "Don Imus has the largest audience of any disc jockey in the country."

Sherman credits Imus, a graduate of the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, with helping boost WNBC out of the city's broadcast boondocks.

Imus cleaned up his on-air act while at Cleveland's WHK -- he was fired by WNBC in '77 -- though he still may be the most outrageous character in radio. In any case, his novel, "God's Other Son: The Life and Times of the Rev. Billy Sol Hargus," certainly is no disappointment in that regard.

It's skilfully written and consistently funny -- though it's not for every taste. Indeed, some will find it downright blasphemous.

The book is based on a character Imus created for his radio show.

"I could have done one of those ripoff things -- 'The Rev. Hargus' Sermons' -- but I'd never do that," he says.

"I understand the feeling some people have, too, that it's arrogant and presumptious of me to think I could write a novel. Well, I felt I could do it, and now we have a tremendous sequel, 'God's President."'

Don Imus' career in radio began as an $80-a-week DJ in Palmdale, and a year later he was in Stockton, making $800 a month at KJOY. That second job didn't last long -- he was fired after announcing "The Eldridge Cleaver Look-Alike Contest," with a first prize of five years in jail.

He worked at KXOA in Sacramento, then at Cleveland's WGAR, and in 1971, at the age of 31, took the job at WNBC -- and quickly became the city's No. 1 DJ.

"I'd gone from $80 a week to a couple hundred thousand a year," he says, "and I couldn't handle it.

"Part of the reason people have problems -- the Freddy Prinzes -- is this enormous success comes so fast. In your heart, you know you don't deserve it.

"When I got fired, I went to Cleveland. In my mind, I was willing to do that," Imus says. "And now we work as hard as we do -- I certainly don't feel guilty anymore."

He and McCord wrote "God's Only Son" after the show each day and on weekends, and as a result of that effort, they've been hired by Paramount Pictures to script three movies. They were at work rewriting the screenplay for "National Lampoon's Joy of Sex" when the screenwriter's strike intervened.

Despite the recent success outside of radio, Imus says he'll stick with the work for the time being.

"It's a lot of fun. You can say what you want, do what you want -- it's a unique job in radio."

OK, just for a moment, ignore all the creepy references to coming back and not being rude anymore and saying anything on the radio.

They were at work writing WHAT?

Monday, September 24, 2007

We Report, You Decide Not To Watch

Hey, Imus? You're supposed to be coming back soon, right? Just checking...

Not that you cared, but MSNBC finally made the announcement today that "Morning Joe" has officially replaced Imus. Interestingly enough, Dan Abrams has "ceded" his manegerial position to Phil Griffin, because now Abrams has taken over Scarborough's old slot, and thus has no more time to run MSNBC into the ground. (Confusing, isn't it?)

Honestly, who cares. The only reason I even ran this story was to show this awesome photo of Charles McCord. Best picture ever.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Goobers Are Restless

Oh, man. Here's a fun one.

In May of 1996, "Imus in the Morning" broadcasted a show from the beautiful city of Raleigh, North Carolina. Naturally, the Imus crew acted like their usual obnoxious selves, and they made a lot of tactless hillbilly jokes about "Gooberville" and its denizens.

But if we are to judge by Lexis-Nexis, apparently mayor Tom Fetzer and pro tem mayor Paul Coble got the last laugh. They issued a proclamation unto the crowd that was definitely not written by someone with Southern manners. Watch and behold as the "Imus in the Morning" gang gets brilliantly served by goobers.


WHEREAS, never before in our lackluster history has Gooberville been visited by such illustrious personages as:

-Dead President Dick Nixon (who, by the way learned everything he ever knew about the law from a university just down the road a piece);

-General George S. Patton (U.S. Army - Very Retired);

-Beavis; Bubba;

-the world's greatest "yes-man," Charles McCord;

-that foul-mouthed Damn Yankee (pardon the redundancy) Bernard McGuirk;

-and the "I-Man," an old drunk radio personality who catapulted from being a moribund "Rush Wannabe" to national infamy with 25 minutes of gut-wrenching observations about ingenious uses of Astroturf, Willie Nelson fans, spontaneously kinetic billing records, the sexual peccadilloes and other less titillating quirks of America's brightest (or at least highest paid) journalists, which he delivered right before God, the president, his Little Woman and everybody;

and, WHEREAS, even though the I-Man lives among the heathen in New York City, he renders a great service, not only to the ignorant saps of those five boroughs, but to millions of other benighted Americans residing in other cultural wastelands, by exposing them to the musical genius of Gooberville icons Delbert McClinton, George Jones and Miss Tammy;

and,WHEREAS, like all "real" men in Gooberville, the I-Man enjoys the company of a nubile (if not to say juvenile) lass, and we're all "sure as Sunday" that that pretty little girl Miss Deirdre will grow up to be a real fine-looking woman someday;

and, WHEREAS, kin is held to be near 'bout sacred in Gooberville, and since we've never been able to do much serious shopping except by mail-order catalog anyway, we think it's right smart and awful brotherly of the I-Man to shamelessly promote the third-rate wares his poor old brother - who's stuck out there in the barren New Mexican desert - is trying to get shed of;

NOW THEREFORE, do I, Tom Fetzer, mayor of Gooberville, and Paul Coble, mayor pro tem and devoted lap dog, hereby proclaim Friday, May 31, 1996, to be I-Man Day in Gooberville, and request all the sniveling jerks and weasels in this backwoods burg to "JUST GET OUT!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Weekends At The D.L.

D.L. Hughley is the man. If you don't believe me, read this excerpt from today's New York Post, an article on Page Six aptly titled He's With Imus:

AS Don Imus gets ready to go back to work, the famed radio host has the support of D.L. Hughley, who recently told, "I watched Don Imus . . . support Harold Ford and Barack Obama. I also watched him take politicians to task for their treatment of Katrina victims. I have a bit of context. And it would be hypocritical for me to deny somebody else the right to express themselves the way they see fit."

Hughley brings up one of the words rarely uttered last April: Context. It's a key concept in comedy, to say the least.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Here’s some advice for you reporters poised to write those “Imus Miraculously Returns” articles - don’t even bother. Your work is already done. In fact, it’s been done countless times before.

All you need to do is go to Lexis-Nexis, search around a little, and you’ll find exactly what you want - an article detailing a stupendous return from illness, scandal, whatever. Trust me. This is like the sixth or seventh time that Imus was supposed to never return, so there’s a treasure trove of “Imus is back? WTF?” articles. Just change the dates, the names, the ages, the call letters, and you’re set.

The following piece was written by James Brady, also the author of this recent sweet heartfelt article about wanting Imus and the gang back. (Brady, incidentally, has written a million articles on Imus. More on this later.) So sit back, enjoy, and tell me if it seems eerily similar to today.

(Incidentally, I’ve been swamped with schoolwork - and I’ll spare you my whining about that - but expect a bunch of fun articles along this vein in the next few days. They’re easy to post, and well worth the trouble.)

We Want More Than News From Radio Personalities
James Brady
Crain’s New York Business
September 13, 1993-September 19, 1993

It's the biggest comeback since Lazarus rose from the dead.

Or at least since the 1951 Giants.

If all goes well, about 5:30 this morning Don Imus is due back in the WFAN studio in Long Island City after more than a month of collapsed lungs, major surgery, the insulting of nurses, questioning of doctors' competence and complaining about the lack of cable television.

Toward the end, last week, he was begging listeners to stop praying for him on grounds they'd been praying so hard they'd just about succeeded in bringing about his death.

While listening to Imus whine (and graphically describe the two-foot long scar occasioned by a lung operation in which they went in through the back; he asked sidekick Charles McCord to tell listeners what color the scar was!), it occurred to me that this is precisely what we want from our morning drive radio personalities. We don't just want the news and the ball scores, the traffic and the weather, we want desperately to know all about the personal lives of icons.

It is the way in which we "little people," as Imus might refer to us (also as "insignificant little worms,") can dare to think of walking with giants, of bonding with the great. Imus is hardly the first to recognize this curious psychological need on our part to know the most intimate details of his . . . sock drawer.

It makes the guy human. One of us. Very nearly . . . touchable?

Long before Imus arrived on the New York scene there were radio shows that specialized in such chummy broadcasting relationships. Remember "Dorothy and Dick?"

Dorothy was Dorothy Kilgallen, a gossip columnist for the Journal-American, and something of a shrew, and her husband Dick Something produced plays. Each morning for hours they supposedly sat around the breakfast table in their tony Manhattan apartment sipping coffee and munching buttered toast and discussing last night's Broadway opening, the latest book, and in general, news of the Rialto.

Over the radio we learned all about them, their glamorous lives, what their friends were up to, what they thought about the news. I used to think it would be swell to be "Dorothy and Dick."

In actuality, we were later informed, they couldn't stand each other. I believe she killed herself;

I can't recall what happened to Dick.

On the flip side of the radio coin were the Gamblings, then as now on WOR.

John B. Gambling was a shipboard radio man, a Brit, who settled down here in New York as an engineer and one morning filled in for the on-air guy and did it brilliantly.

So much so he bequeathed the show to John A., who in turn, turned it over to John R. We know everything about the Gamblings, even their darker hours, and loved them for it.

I can still recall how upset my mother was when John A. dropped out of Dartmouth to marry Sally. "He ought to stay in college and get his degree," she felt . . . The fact is John and Sally 40 or more years later are still thriving as does Dartmouth.

Ed and Pegeen Fitzpatrick were another radio couple into whose glamorous lives we were permitted to peek. He was an old vaudevillian and Hearst newspaperman and she'd written department store advertising. They knew everyone and went to everything and kept cats and collected fire engines and took us into the bosom of their extended family (a series of nubile young interns worked for them). Perhaps their greatest moment occurred in their Central Park South apartment when, during the broadcast their beloved housekeeper died in their living room while vacuuming. Peg didn't mention it on the air until the next day. "I didn't want to upset our listeners," she said.

Just like Imus; always thinking of the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse, #12,003

Apparently there is a Wikipedia page about Don Imus... in German.

Spanning the Continent

Neil Best did a nice profile on Chris Carlin a few days ago. I think most people would be shocked to know that the guy who delivered the most celebrated sports call in Rutgers history, “Pandemonium in Piscataway,“ was the sportscaster on “Imus in the Morning.“

(Best, incidentally, was the journalist that people kept haranguing all summer for Imus updates. He did a stellar job in mining his sources and soothing the nerves of irate I-fans, so kudos to him. His blog, Watchdog, covers sports media in the New York metropolitan area.)

Best’s article reports that Carlin was home sick when Imus uttered his infamous words. Neil calls it “the best-timed flu in WFAN history.” Um, seriously.

Incidentally, I went to the WFAN site the other day and found out that they make someone, presumably an intern, write up a daily summary of the Boomer and Carton Show. They’re interesting, even though the writer is apparently allergic to commas.

Here’s an entry from the 9/12 edition:

Yesterday Carton made a bet with Chris Carlin saying there weren't ten teams in college football who had eight home games this season and if there were Carton would buy breakfast for all of us. Carlin found twelve and Carton lived up to his word making Carlin a very happy man as he said,"Carton God bless you and God bless bacon."

And it’s accompanied by this picture:

I'm going to miss Carlin.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare $1.75?

Abandoned women and children are society’s most vulnerable victims. It’s truly a fine individual who stands up to protect them when the husband walks out on his own family.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the charity-minded Imus in the Morning crew once took a memorable stand against deadbeat dads. Don Kaplan’s article from the January 29, 2000 edition of the New York Post profiles an attempt by the Imus guys to combat this social ill. As I read this stirring tale, I instantly remembered why I miss this show so much.

Keep the tissues handy for this extremely moving profile of social activism.


Pranksters from the Don Imus radio show were threatened with arrest outside CBS's "Early Show" yesterday after they tried to collect money to help support co-host Bryant Gumbel's estranged wife and kids.

Gumbel's wife, June, says the millionaire TV personality is giving her and their two children only $250 a month in support. She is suing him for divorce.

Imus called the effort to collect money "Gumbel Aid 2000."

"Bryant Gumbel is a hideously unlikable person so [we'll do] anything [we] could do to [mess] with him," Imus told The Post yesterday. "We saw a need, and we thought we'd try to address it."

The Imus crew showed up at the new CBS studio at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue carrying posters and chanting, "No Money, No Justice."

They waved white plastic buckets with Gumbel's picture on them at passers-by, asking for donations of canned food and money to help the $5 million-a-year TV host pay child support for his 16-year-old daughter and 21-year-old son.

The whole episode aired live on Imus' radio show on WFAN and on TV on the MSNBC cable channel.

Gumbel had taken the day off and did not see the episode.

About 10 police officers showed up around 8:30 a.m. after "Early Show" executive producer Steve Friedman called 911.

The pranksters were ordered to leave because "Imus in the Morning" did not have a permit to park its broadcasting truck on the street, Friedman said.

"It's private property," he said.

Imus' producer, Bernard McGuirk, told Imus during the live broadcast, "We're either getting kicked out or we're getting our cars impounded and going to jail," as cameras caught police officers ordering the crew to leave.

When the "rally" ended, the Gumbel Aid 2000 buckets were filled with about $1.75 in change, a bottle of champagne and a can of sauerkraut.

"It's one thing to attack somebody for their performance," Friedman said. "To start playing with something that's happening in your personal life and your family with two kids around -- how low can you go?"

In her lawsuit, June Gumbel calls Gumbel a "serial adulterer."

June Gumbel's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, told a reporter that a therapist has been helping the family cope with the "Early Show" host's relationship with Hilary Quinlan, a blond bombshell with whom Gumbel now lives.

Earlier this week, June Gumbel asked a Westchester judge to order her husband to fork over $8,000 in emergency relief.

Imus claimed to have tried to reach June, but "her phone has been turned off."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Dolphins Make Him Cry

We all know Keith Olbermann’s story by now. Imus promotes Olbermann, and Keith’s ratings go up; Imus gets in trouble, and Keith lobbies to get him fired. It’s the same thing we saw a hundred times during that terrible week last April.

Keith claimed on Countdown that Don Imus’ regrettable behavior warranted his firing. But Keith is a hypocrite - for he has outshamed our I-Man in a far worse area. No, it’s not betraying the person who frequently supported you - much worse than that. While Don Imus has done some regrettable things in his life…at least he has never starred in a Hootie and the Blowfish video.

Yes, that’s right. In a cameo reminiscent of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Keith Olbermann guest-starred in the masterpiece that rivals Kurosawa and Kubrick’s best work - the 1995 music video to that chart-topping paean “Only Wanna Be With You.”

Unless you’re into 90s nostalgia, there is really no reason to watch this video. My good friend Caroline and I tried to decipher the plot, and failed. (Of course, we WERE laughing hysterically and mocking it mercilessly, so maybe we weren’t paying the best attention…) Essentially, Hootie and company make asses of themselves playing sports. All the while they are tsked over by various sports celebrities - including Dan Marino, who by the end of the video is reduced to a staring, shell-shocked torture victim. Finally, in a plot twist resembling William Shakespeare, they go a bar and fail at billiards.

Also, there is a LOT of homoerotic interaction between Hootie and his Blowfish. (Weren’t they supposed to be a Christian band?)

So whenever you get too steamed what Keith Olbermann did to Imus, or his ridiculous remarks in general…just think of Hootie. And remember that we ALL have skeletons in our closet.

If I were Bill O’Reilly, I would show this video every single day.

Hootie and the Blowfish - "Only Wanna Be With You" (video)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


No, the breaking news is not that the Rutgers player dropped her frivolous lawsuit. (Nor is it that Bernard's lawyer for the entire mess was Joe Tacopina, a frequent I-guest who also talks some common sense about this issue, one of the few to do so. In the article, he repeats what most people with a brain have been saying all along. Awesome.)

No, the real breaking news here is that Charles McCord and Rob Bartlett's biographies have FINALLY been removed from the WFAN Bio Page. It's the subtle-yet-official announcement signaling that they no longer work there, stating that they are free to join Imus.

Lou Rufino's bio, however, is still there...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Grown, If Not Always Mature, Man

Lately there hasn't been much Imus news to report. Therefore, I figure that if no news is good news...then why not print old news? Old news, as in 1993-old?

Over the years, there have been scores of media profiles on Imus In The Morning and Imus in general. Here's a fun one that I found from the excellent Richard Sandomir of the New York Times. Dated September 29, 1993, it explores the listenership, the discourse of the show, and Imus in well as a collapsed lung, a clogged septic tank, and lotion-rubbing.

IN THE STUDIO WITH: Don Imus;It's a Hideous Life, And You Get to Hear All About It

ON a recent morning at 5:45, Don Imus trudges slowly down the hallway of WFAN-AM, the all-sports radio station, toward his dimly lit basement studio like a man headed to a day of torture. His arms are full with a briefcase and a stack of newspapers. Pain from lung surgery on Sept. 3 has sapped the 53-year-old hellion's bilious, irascible wit and energy. Relief from Percoset, a painkiller, has not yet arrived.

After settling in and uttering his first words on "Imus in the Morning," his talk show, shortly after 6, Mr. Imus tells Charles McCord, his newsman for 21 years: "I walked four miles along the water on the Belt Parkway yesterday, underneath the Verrazano Bridge. I wanted to see if I could jog."

"What a dope," says Mr. McCord, who sits to Mr. Imus's right at the studio console and is regularly joined by Mike Breen, a master at using athletes' sound bites to punch up his oddball reporting. On the other side of the studio glass are the producer, Bernard McGuirk, and the engineer, Lou Rufino. The four act as Mr. Imus's perverse Greek chorus of approval, derision and sick humor. They often target Mr. Imus, making light of his drug and alcohol addictions, sex life and complexion.

"The incision came open in a little place, but nothing icky," Mr. Imus says. "I woke up this morning in so much pain I don't know what it meant."

"It means we're happy," Mr. McGuirk says.

It is Mr. Imus's sixth day back at WFAN's studio, in Astoria, Queens, after a six-week hospitalization that was as long and almost as renowned as any of Elizabeth Taylor's. Except for the day of the surgery and a day shortly thereafter, Mr. Imus did not miss work, reporting from his bed on procedures that twice failed to reinflate a collapsed right lung; his nurses; his sainted doctor; his brother, Fred; his catheter, and his yen for cable television.

Three days after Mr. Imus was released, he returned to work, a sedated, pallid man who would rather writhe in Astoria than in his Lower East Side apartment. "This station is really his life," said Joel Hollander, vice president and general manager of WFAN, at 660 on the dial.

From the day 22 years ago when New Yorkers listened to their first sonic attack from Mr. Imus, a former uranium miner from Arizona, on WNBC-AM (he's been at WFAN since 1988), he has been inciting radio mischief, from calling women to ask "Are you naked?" to satirizing evangelism with his money-grubbing Rev. Billy Sol Hargis character.

If he didn't invent shock jockery, he pioneered it, siring WXRK-FM's Howard Stern, among others. "People perceive me as Howard Stern," Mr. Imus, who reportedly earns $2.5 million a year, says off the air, seated in a reclining chair in his cluttered station office. "It's not the case. I'm Howard Stern with a vocabulary. I'm the man he wishes he could be."

A grown if not always mature divorced man with four daughters, Mr. Imus is comfortably ensconced in an advanced yet sophisticated spitball stage of adolescence honed for more than two decades. He is fixated on genitalia (often someone else's), his addictions and the breast-implant surgery of his former assistant.

Mr. Imus winces, rasps and breathes deeply through much of the day's show. Occasional periods of pharmaceutical relief make him look close to entering an altered state. His shaggy, strawberry-blond hair sits matted beneath his headset. A lone right sneaker sits to the right on his studio console, a 1.5-liter bottle of Poland Spring water to his left. When he speaks, he frequently removes gum from his mouth. Once, the wad falls out unaided.

Unaccountably, at 7:19, he displays his surgical scar. First, he finishes a yogurt commercial ("I eat it, it's good"), then unzips his red, blue and green Polo warm-up jacket and pulls off a United States Open tennis tournament T-shirt to reveal a thin, slightly flabby torso with a back-to-chest scar. "The bandage covers the really icky thing," he says. "Underneath, it looks like they took an ax to my back."

While he is fixated on body parts, in recent years, especially since the Persian Gulf war, he has moved on to more serious subjects, taking on Bosnia and Somalia, Presidential politics and homosexuals in the military, with regular call-in guests that have included Governor Lowell P. Weicker of Connecticut; Jeff Greenfield, an ABC News correspondent, and Senator Bill Bradley, Democrat of New Jersey.

Mayor David N. Dinkins is a regular. So are Rudolph W. Giuliani; Tim Russert, the host of "Meet the Press," and Anna Quindlen, the columnist for The New York Times. Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York recommended that his fellow Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas joust with Mr. Imus, said Clarkson Hine, Senator Dole's press secretary.

"I'm confident that I know more than enough to talk with them," Mr. Imus says of politicians. "I've created a situation for them to display an aspect of their personality that they don't show to others."

He adds: "I could never have done this show six years ago. I couldn't talk to these people with any coherence. I had a serious drug and drinking problem."

In his political palaver, Mr. Imus is generally respectful and genuinely curious about a political process he obviously has little faith in; yet, he curbs his worst instincts, usually until the politicians are off the air.

When Senator Bradley calls, mainly to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Imus compliments him on his diet: "You've lost four chins, Senator. You look like a hunk. Excuse me for saying that."

Mr. Imus's four interviews with Bill Clinton -- three before the election, one after, and two of them broadcast live on the "Today" show -- vaulted him out of the dirty-deejay hamper. Mr. Imus credits himself with reviving Mr. Clinton's New York primary campaign and thus assuring his election.

"The I-Man is now a fashioner of kings," Mr. McCord says on the air.

"You don't have to suck up to me," Mr. Imus says. "Everyone else does."

"My man Bubba," as Mr. Imus calls him, may keep a Don Imus bobble-head doll on his Oval Office desk (there are snapshots to prove it), but Mr. Imus has not refrained from calling the President "that pantload in the White House," or simply "Fatso."

Mostly, though, "Imus in the Morning," normally on the air from 5:30 to 10 A.M., is about Mr. Imus and the subjects that interest his audience of mainly men 25 to 54: his six years of abstinence from alcohol, his 11 years away from drugs, his limousine, his gun, his detective friend Bo Dietl, his cholesterol count, his friendship with the country singer and author Kinky Friedman and his adoration of Ms. Quindlen's brains.

There is enough gay, ethnic and sexual material from Mr. Imus and his crew to anger listeners; yet, he has not been targeted for fines or penalties for profanity by the Federal Communications Commission, as Mr. Stern has. He says he is not a racist or a homophobe.

"The show is a foray into my hideous life," he says. There was the case of the 700 condoms found recently by a plumber in the sewer tank of his weekend home in Southport, Conn.

"I've never put a condom in the toilet," said Mr. Imus, who is single.

"Has your lover?" Mr. McGuirk said.

"They had to come from somewhere," Mr. McCord insisted.

"Not me," Mr. Imus said. "But I can't convince you of that. I don't use condoms. I don't have sex with people I think have AIDS. They came from the people I bought the house from. Nice people but wack jobs."

At WFAN, he is the cash cow, and his arrival in 1988 more than likely saved the station from death. Of WFAN's projected 1993 revenues of $35 million, Mr. Imus's show is expected to account for one-third. Mr. Imus regularly declares his power to mint money from his own deranged juvenility: "When WFAN went all sports, it couldn't suck enough!" he screamed on the show in July. "It was losing five or six million dollars. Now we're the No. 2 grossing station in America!"

Over the last few months, the show has been syndicated to stations in Boston; Tampa, Fla.; Providence, R.I.; Albany; Cleveland; Washington; Aiken, S.C.; Kalamazoo, Mich., and Scranton, Pa., which has raised questions about whether his local act will work elsewhere.

"It's a new concept, even for him," Mr. Hollander said. "It'll take a while to shake out."

Mr. Imus's lung problems have brought him mixed messages of compassion. Mr. Hollander was a regular hospital presence, and Mr. McGuirk urged his boss to start smoking again. Senator Bradley expressed his concern, while others wondered if death was near, or if his illness wrinkled his craggy corpus.

Mr. McCord, a mother hen to Mr. Imus, regularly inquiring about how his radio partner cares for himself, made this touching on-air offer last week: "How's the wound? Can I rub some salve on you, baby? Most people would want to rub salt in your wound. Not me."

The great sucking-up sound of sycophancy came to rest upon Don Imus. And it was good.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Go See Rob!

Hey, are you within driving distance of suburban Boston? Or do you live near the New York metropolitan area, or are looking for an excuse to go there within the next few months?

If so, why don’t you go see Rob Bartlett? As a matter of fact, he happens to have a show coming up this very weekend! He’ll be presenting “An Evening With Rob Bartlett” at the Comedy Connection Kowloon this Saturday, September 15, at 7:30 PM, in Saugus, MA. (Reservations can be made here; and more information about the club can be found here.)

If you can’t make it to the Bay State, then try to catch Rob on Broadway in “Chicago.” He’ll be performing the role of Amos Hart at the Ambassador Theatre through January 27. (Tickets and more information can be found here.) If you want more information about Rob Bartlett and his work, go to his website,

And if you don’t live in New England, and despise New York as a filthy, crowded city full of strange people…well, I really don’t know what to tell you. Just send Rob a large box full of unmarked bills. I think he’d like that.

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Send Me To CLEVELAND? You Can't Do That!"

Oh, man, do I have a treat for you.

So remember a few posts ago, when I posted that authoritative article, dated 1977, that said that Imus was gone forever. Well…um…I found out that he…actually did come back. (This blog regrets the error.) How did I find out, you ask?

Because posted Imus’ show from his very, very first day back from Cleveland.

News is provided, by Charles, of course. Sports news is also read, and it mostly focuses on the tennis travails of “Chris-sy Ev-ert LLOYD.” Comedy bits are performed. Soft-rock 1970s songs are played. People are mocked.

And if you’re the sixth caller, you can win, quote, “a $430 19-inch color television, and tickets to see the Bee Gees.” HOTT.

But the best thing, by far, comes about 17 minutes into the aircheck. This is when Imus reveals, via his good friend the Rev. Billy Sol Hargus, his story about coming back from his banishment and exile in Cleveland, his fight back to prominence and redemption. But everything is OK now, Rev. Hargus reassures us - for God’s chosen, re-rosen disc jockey is back. I don’t want to spoil it here - just listen to it yourself. “Eerie” does not even come close to describing it.

It was September 3, 1979 - twenty-eight years ago this week - when Imus achieved the impossible and came back from the underworld of the dead…Cleveland, that is. And this aircheck is, in short, amazing.

Imus' Comeback Show - September 3, 1979

(Thanks a million to, which also provides some context behind the clip; and thanks to Big Apple Airchecks as well.)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Isn't It Ironic...Don't You Think?

This news blooper is from June of 2005...a more innocent time.

C'mon, MSNBC. Why fire Don Imus when you call one of your own correspondents a ho...and do so in racially charged terms?


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Rumors on the Internets

Talk about conflicting information. A few people liked the new Boomer and Carton show; a lot of people didn't. There was a rumor that Rufino wasn't doing the engineering - but wait, he actually was. It looked like McCord was gone for good when Tracy Burgess did the news - but wait, he's actually "on vacation" until next week. Meh.

By this point, it almost seems pointless to keep speculating. All this Monday morning quarterbacking over where everyone is going is precisely what it is - Monday morning quarterbacking. (I could easily make a horrible pun here and suggest that WFAN really does have a "Monday morning quarterback" whenever Boomer hosts Mondays. But I will refrain.)

Anyway, I just hope that when Imus comes back, he gives a long, Bond-villain-esque speech that explains every motive and every mystery from the past four months. Myst was easier to solve than this situation.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Quickies

Just a few short updates, before I get back to those trivial things known as "friends" and "schoolwork:"

  • “Boomer and Carton in the Morning” is debuting tomorrow, in case you forgot. The headline to Newsday's article about the show repeats the same “Boomer Hits the FAN” pun that we’ve seen in several other headlines. People, is it really that classy to compare Boomer to a piece of shit?

  • I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the future supporting cast of “Boomer and Carton” - specifically whether it will include, initially or permanently, former Imus cast members Charles McCord, Lou Rufino, and Rob Bartlett. The short answer: I don’t know. The ‘FAN knows, but they’re making us wait until tomorrow to find out. It was confirmed awhile ago in a NYTimes article that McCord will eventually join Imus. (I know - what a shocker.) But everyone is keeping mum about the futures of Rufino and Bartlett. As of this afternoon, the bios of all three men are still up on the WFAN website. I’ll check again later tonight.

  • (By the way, it disturbs me that the names of the “Boomer and Carton” supporting cast have been a better-kept secret than the Harry Potter ending.)

  • There’s supposed to be an extremely moving documentary about the Imus Ranch that airs on RFD-TV tonight, at 7 PM EST. You probably know about this already, but I think it bears repeating.

Anyway, if anyone bothers to listen to Boomer and Carton tomorrow morning, please post your thoughts. (Keep them relatively civil.) Until then, I hope that your Labor Day evening is as busy and enjoyable as mine.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

BREAKING NEWS!!!111!!!111

So a few days ago, on Friday, the Newark Star-Ledger published what they believe to be breaking news in the Imus saga.

Are you ready? Hang on to your seat:

Is Boomer about to hit the Fan?

August 31, 2007

Several published reports over the weekend say that former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason is all but signed to do the morning show at WFAN (660 AM). The Daily News even went further to suggest that Craig Carton of "The Jersey Guys" on WKXW (101.5 FM) will join Esiason as part of the new morning team at the CBS-owned station.

Hey, guys - way to discover something that we found out four weeks ago.