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.


Al said...

But, where will Imus surface? Seems everybody is gettin' a radio show, except Imus...

Purty little Marty Stuart will have his own show on XM, beginning in October...maybe Imus can be a GUEST on that show?

...and speaking of radio people, here's a list of the 10 richest people in radio...maybe one of them will hire Imus...

CollegeGirl said...

Thanks for the list, Al.

I didn't see him on there, but I totally thought Howard Stern would be on the list. He, his crew, and the production of his show cost Sirius $100 million a year. I have nothing against Stern...but seriously.

And it would be quite the irony to have Stuart promoting Imus, instead of the other way around...