March 29th will be the last time New Yorkers will wake-up to the voice of legendary broadcaster Don Imus.
The WABC host announced on his program today that although his contract runs through the end of 2018, he and station owner Cumulus Broadcasting had agreed to end the deal at the end of March.
Cumulus is in the midst of a debt reorganization having filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December and, according to Imus, the company notified him that under the provisions of the bankruptcy agreement, they were exercising their right to terminate certain contracts prematurely, including his.
Mediaite points out that Imus has been a part of the morning radio landscape in New York City since 1971 except for a 2-year hiatus when the morning man was on the Cleveland radio scene.
Beginning with a traditional morning music program Imus reached a pinnacle at WNBC where he dominated mornings while the afternoon drive was handled by an up-and-coming guy named Howard Stern. As chronicled in Stern’s book and film Private Parts, Imus was not always the easiest man to work with. Something any listener to the Imus in the Morning program would hear the broadcaster freely admit.
When WNBC was purchased by WFAN, the nation’s first major sports talk station, they kept Imus in the AM slot and his show transitioned to a straight-talk format. This was the era that brought the dawn of Rush Limbaugh and the dominance of political talk. Imus easily made the transition interviewing many DC politicians as part of his program.
In the 1990s he was a loud and frequent critic of the Clintons and ruffled many feathers with his controversial stint as the host of the White House Corespondents’ Dinner.
After remarks that were perceived to be racist in nature toward the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team in 2007 appeared on his program Imus was fired by WFAN (and MSNBC where his program had been simulcast) and he was hired that year by WABC. Incidentally, back then MSNBC turned to a young, upcoming team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to quickly replace Imus in the morning television slot and well… thanks a lot, Imus.
No replacement for Imus has been named, but his long-time producer and latest sports announcer, Bernard McGiurk and Sid Rosenberg currently fill the 10AM - noon slot immediately following Imus on WABC and their voices and personalities are very familiar to long-time, hardcore Imus fans.