Controversial radio DJ Don Imus returns to the radio this morning following an 8 month hiatus which resulted from the heroic efforts of the American public, a public who raised their voices and shut him down following racist remarks about a woman's basketball team.
Eight months after CBS Radio and MSNBC fired him for racist remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team, shock jock legend Don Imus is set to launch his return Monday -- this time on ABC Radio and a small rural cable TV channel.
The national furor that cost him his job and prompted a nationwide discussion of racism in April has all but disappeared: The Rev. Al Sharpton, perhaps Imus' staunchest critic, did not return a call on Imus' return to the public stage.
Perhaps that's because this show will be unlike his old, all-white boys club. An executive familiar with the closely guarded new format, who asked not to be identified, says that two African-Americans will be regulars. Returning with Imus will be newsreader Charles McCord.
Is Imus including two black regular guests (his press folks want to make sure that message gets out) because he's a new man, or is it just appeasement so he can get a fat-ass paycheck again?
I'd guess the latter.
The kickoff is Monday, when ABC begins syndicating his radio show weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. to a few dozen stations, and the RFD-TV (as in Rural Free Delivery) cable channel begins simulcasting the talkfest to some 30 million households.
It's a leaner audience for this DJ but the show could grow.
Oh, he wants us to believe it's a new Imus. His people are crowing that he can and will reinvent his performance personna and regain his previous prominence.
Democratic strategist James Carville, a former frequent guest, has said he'll be on the first show. But other regulars, such as NBC's Meet the Press host Tim Russert and CBS' Jeff Greenfield, aren't saying if or when they might join the I-Man.
Phil Boyce, the ABC Radio executive who is supervising Imus' launch, says that Imus paid for his mistake and that it's time to move on.
"He apologized to the women's basketball team, and they accepted his apology," Boyce said. "I think most people believe he deserves a second chance. We're all about second chances in this country."
While I firmly believe that Imus should have been held to the scrutiny and outrage over his past offenses, he has paid the price.
It was our free speech rights that caused him to lose his radio show, so it's his turn to speak. Let him show us who he is, or who he wants us to believe he is. If he's brave enough to want to come back into the spotlight let the man speak.
by the way... The Imus Ranch Foods website mentions an upcoming venue is sold out, but that's just his managers at work. It's easy to make sure the venue is sized to "sell out", and also desirable... since the fact that it sells out helps boost Imus's street creds.
Imus Ranch Foods is also a good charitable cause, and the best news is that it's yet another online holiday shopping experience.
Good luck with the show.
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