Shock Jock Don Imus Returns to Airwaves
Nov 1 04:33 PM US/Eastern
By LARRY McSHANE
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Don Imus will return to the airwaves Dec. 3 on New York's WABC-AM, only nine months after the cantankerous shock jock's career seemed doomed over his racist, sexist remark about a women's college basketball team.
Citadel Broadcasting Corp. made the announcement Thursday, confirming long-rumored reports that Imus was coming back to morning drive time in the same city where he was banished in April.
"We are ecstatic to bring Don Imus back to morning radio," said 77 WABC President and General Manager Steve Borneman. "Don's unique brand of humor, knowledge of the issues and ability to attract big-name guests is unparalleled. He is rested, fired up and ready to do great radio."
Imus will return with his longtime newsman, Charles McCord, and other members of his morning team, Citadel said in announcing the move. It did not specifically mention Bernard McGuirk, the producer who was fired along with Imus.
Imus will replace the morning team of Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby on the Citadel Broadcasting-owned station.
The acid-tongued broadcasting icon was fired in April after he called the Rutgers University's women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos" on the air, sparking a national furor and calls by civil rights leaders and broadcast journalists to resign.
But just three months later, Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the strongest voices calling for the shock jock's firing, said Imus had a right to make a living and could return to radio.
Citadel Broadcasting CEO Farid Suleman also recently defended Imus, telling The New York Times in a recent interview: "He didn't break the law. He's more than paid the price for what he did."
But prospects of Imus' return, anticipated for months, have outraged critics including the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Organization for Women, who said the idea of him coming back to the airwaves months after he was fired is nearly as insulting as the comments that drove him off the air.
The radio industry has eagerly awaited his return and the ratings he brought on his WFAN-AM morning show program, which had also been simulcast on the MSNBC cable channel.
Suleman's WABC-AM is already home to several syndicated hosts: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.
Imus' national presence would trump the local Arbitron ratings, where his WFAN-AM show consistently drew fewer listeners than Sliwa and Kuby.