Don Imus Biography
Don Imus born John Donald Imus Jr. is an American former radio personality, television show host, recording artist, and author. He is known for his radio show Imus in the Morning which aired on various stations and digital platforms nationwide until 2018.
In the 1960s, Imus, a former railroad brakeman and miner, attended broadcasting school and secured his first radio job at KUTY in Palmdale, California in 1968. Three years later, before his 1977 firing, he landed the morning spot at WNBC in New York City.
Imus returned to WNBC in 1979 and remained at the station until the show moved to WFAN in 1988. When the show entered national syndication in 1993, Imus gained widespread popularity. Throughout his later career, he was labeled a shock jock radio host and his programs were popular and controversial. Imus retired from broadcasting in March 2018 after almost 50 years on the air.
Don Imus Age
Don was born on July 23, 1940, Riverside, CA. He is 78 years as of 2018.
Don Imus Height
He stands at a height of 6′ 2″.
Don Imus Wife| Family
Imus has been twice married. His first wife Harriet Showalter, who had two daughters from a previous marriage, Nadine and Toni, was married around 1965. Ashley and Elizabeth had two of their own. In 1979, they divorced. On December 17, 1994, Imus married Deirdre Coleman. They were born in 1998 to their son Frederick Wyatt.
Imus resides in a ranch he acquired in 2013 in Brenham, Texas. After completing his Fox Business television simulcast in New York in 2015, he moved there full-time and from there began broadcasting his show exclusively on the radio with the cast members broadcasting from the WABC radio studios. His former Westport, Connecticut waterfront mansion was sold for $14.4 million the same year.
Don Imus Early Life
Imus was born into a wealthy family in Riverside, California, the son of John Donald Imus, Sr. and Frances E. Imus (born Moore) running a 35,000-acre ranch called The Willows near Kingman, Arizona. He has ancestral and Jewish roots in Welsh, English, and Polish. He had Fred Imus (1942–2011), a younger brother. Imus disliked school, moving “from one hideous private school to another” and describing himself as a “hideous teenager.” His parents divorced at fifteen, and when he was twenty his father died.
While living in Prescott, Arizona, Imus dropped out of high school in 1957 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps at Base Camp Pendleton where he was stationed in the division of artillery before being transferred to the drum and bugle corps. With an honorable discharge, he left the marines and secured work as a window dresser in San Bernardino before being fired for passers-by performing strip teas on the mannequins.
Imus then moved with his brother to Hollywood in an attempt to succeed as musicians and songwriters, but they struggled to get DJs from radio to play their songs on air. This left Imus homeless, hitchhiking back to Arizona, resorting to sleeping in a laundry. Imus worked as a brakeman on the Southern Pacific Railroad and in a Uranium mine in Arizona after leaving Arizona State University. He suffered an accident in mining that broke both his legs and one lung collapsed.
Don Imus Son
He has a son named Frederick Wyatt Imus
Don Imus Career
In 1966, after seeing a newspaper advertisement, Imus enrolled at the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood; he was thrown out for being “uncooperative,” but studied enough to obtain the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadcasting license. He worked as a singer-songwriter with Otis serving as his manager after winning a talent contest at the night club of Johnny Otis. Imus went to the station and successfully persuaded the owner to hire him after hearing a morning radio DJ at KUTY in Palmdale, California. On June 2, 1968, he signed on the air. Billy Sol Hargus, a radio evangelist named and inspired by preacher Billy James Hargis and businessman Billie Sol Estes, began his on-air character at KUTY. Imus was an instant station success; he became number one in the ratings for his time slot in two months, and in a medium-sized market he won a Billboard Award for Air Personality of the Year.
Imus then had a short stint from which he was fired at KJOY in Stockton, California. The incident that caused his exit is contested; it was reasoned by some sources to his look-a-like contest at Eldridge Cleaver; another put it down on the air saying “hell.” Imus moved to KXOA in Sacramento, California, which became known as a National Guard official for ordering 1,200 burgers for troops for his prank call to a local McDonald’s restaurant. The segment influenced a later FCC ruling that required the identification of all radio DJs when making phone calls on the air. In 1970, Imus left KXOA for a $50,000 salary at WGAR in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1971, he won his second Billboard Award, this time in the major radio market category.
1971–1979: WNBC and WHK
Less than three years into his radio career on December 2, 1971, Imus began his morning show at WNBC in New York City with an annual salary of $100,000. He overslept the show on his second day and missed it. During his time at WNBC, Imus was involved in various projects. He started stand-up comedy and stage act called Imus in the Evening in March 1973; his first shows took place at New York City’s The Bitter End. He earned as much as $10,000 a performance by the early 1980s. Imus retired in December 1985 from his stand-up. He released three radio segments and songs albums: 1200 Hamburgers to Go (1972), One Sacred Chicken to Go with Anthrax (1973), and The Honky’s Nuts (1974). The latter features material from his stand-up comedy at Jimmy’s club in Manhattan.
On September 2, 1979, from 5:30 am, Imus returned to the air at WNBC in the mornings. Imus had begun to use cocaine by this time until he quit in 1983. He continued to drink and his on-and off-air behavior became erratic; he turned up for shoe-free work and slept in his pocket on park benches with large amounts of money. By 1981, Imus and Charles McCord entered into an agreement with Paramount Pictures involving the development of three screenplays, including work on Joy of Sex. Imus renewed his contract with WNBC in April 1981 with a five-year deal worth $500,000 a year with bonuses if he exceeds target ratings. After Howard Stern was added in the afternoons of 1982, he and Imus started a long-standing feud, although both were paired on WNBC print and television ads.
Imus released his first book, God’s Other Son, in July 1981, a novel about the life he wrote with McCord of his on-air character Billy Sol Hargus. It was released in 1994 and spent seven weeks on the best seller list of The New York Times. By October 1981, Imus was America’s most popular radio DJ, reaching 220,000 regular listeners and number one out of 13 demographic categories in 12. Other regular Imus characters included the alleged general manager “Geraldo Santana Banana” (played by doo-wop singer Larry Chance) and “Moby Worm,” a monstrous creature devouring local schools (reported on “breaking news updates” of the show).
Imus was also the utility announcer for the monthly TV series Good Night America by Geraldo Rivera, which aired as a recurring segment of ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment program (1973-1976), and was one of the inaugural video jockeys for the launch of the VH-1 cable network in 1985.
On October 7, 1988, the station was permanently signed off the air after WNBC was sold to Emmis Broadcasting to have WFAN, an all-sports station, moving to the station’s signal. All staff of the station was let go apart from Imus and his team of radio shows, who stayed to be the morning show of WFAN.
Imus signed a five-year deal in 1989 to continue his WFAN show. Imus was inducted into Fame’s National Radio Hall in April 1989. Later in 1989, the following January, Imus accepted an invitation to become an honorary assistant coach for a basketball match between the Fordham Rams and La Salle Explorers.
The show became nationally syndicated in 1993 and began simulcasting on MSNBC in 1996.
Imus played a key role in raising over $60 million for the Intrepid Center, a Texas rehabilitation facility for wounded soldiers in the Iraq War. It is the country’s largest technology center of its kind, designed to help treat veterans with disabilities and help them return to the community with their transition. Imus also took up the cause of living at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, visiting the hospital’s wounded veterans to boost morale. The reporting of Imus preceded resignations from the army, including that of Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, then General Surgeon of the Army. Imus had previously criticized the personal fitness of Kiley for his military duty and dedication to the wounded soldiers.
2007–2018: WABC and retirement
Imus announced on January 22, 2018 that on March 29, 2018, the show would air its final episode. While his contract with Cumulus Media was scheduled to end in December, the company requested that he retire earlier because of the company’s bankruptcy as a cost-saving measure.
Don Imus Controversies
Rutgers women’s basketball team
On April 4, 2007, Imus characterized women’s basketball team players at the Rutgers University as “rough girls” during a discussion on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, commenting on their tattoos. Bernard McGuirk, his executive producer, responded by referring to them as “hardcore’ ho’s.” The discussion continued with Imus describing the women as “nappy-headed’ ho’s” and McGuirk pointing out that the two teams looked like the “jigaboos versus the want tobes” mentioned in the movie of Spike Lee, School Daze, apparently referring to the different appearances of the two teams. The public outrage was directed at Imus and WFAN in the immediate aftermath of the remarks. Howard Stern discussed how he had heard Imus commenting on a blackfemale co-worker while both were working at WNBC, and while management was aware of the comments at the time, nothing had been done. Robin Quivers, co-hostof Stern, confirmed that claim and added that she was once the target of the racist remarks of Imus herself. Imus initially dismissed the controversy, calling the incident “some idiot comment was fun.” He also stated that a term used by rap artists to refer to black women is “nappy-headed’ ho’s.” He said;
“That phrase [nappy-headed ‘ho’] didn’t originate in the white community. That phrase originated in the Black community. Young Black women all through that society are demeaned and disparaged and disrespected by their own Black men, and they are called that name in Black hip hop.
In response to mounting public censure, Imus issued a statement of apology:
I want to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women’s basketball team, which lost to Tennessee in the NCAA championship game on Tuesday. It was completely inappropriate and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry.
On April 9, Imus appeared to address the controversy on the syndicated radio talk show of Al Sharpton, Keepin ‘ It Real with Al Sharpton. Sharpton called the remarks “abominable,” “racist,” and “sexist,” repeating his earlier demand for Imus to be fired. Imus said, “Our agenda is going to be funny and sometimes we’re going too far. And this time we’ve gone too far. Here’s what I’ve learned: you can’t make everyone fun because some people don’t deserve it.”
Imus was suspended shortly afterward
. Media commentators on the suspension were divided: on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country on April 10, for example, Pat Buchanan said Imus was “a good guy…[ who] made a bad mistake and apologized for it” and that the show should remain on the air. Comedian Bill Maher said it should be enough if a comedian apologizes for crossing a line. Steve Adubato, an analyst of the MSNBC media, disagreed that this incident was “not isolated.” Joe Klein made the same charge, referring to Imus’s comment on New York Times reporter Gwen Ifill 14 years earlier as evidence of an offensive comment pattern. On The View, Rosie O’Donnell spoke out in support of keeping Imus on the air on free speech grounds, while Emil Steiner of The Washington Post argued that Al Sharpton used the issue to further divide America along racial lines.
The basketball team from Rutgers held a news conference at which coach C was taking part. Vivian Stringer said that to discuss his comments, the team would meet with Imus. Several of the players voiced outrage at his remarks. Team captain Essence Carson said the remarks of Imus had “stolen from us a moment of pure grace.”
Clarence Page, a frequent guest at one time, once confronted Imus about his characterization of some black athletes and got Imus to make a pledge to stop. Page said he would not appear again on the show after the Rutgers team incident and said of the original two-week suspension:
I know other stations … some shock jock who lost his job for less than this, or been at least suspended for a month or two. Why does Don, a repeat offender, keep getting away with it? I want to know.
CBS board member and former NAACP president Bruce S. Gordon said that Imus should not be allowed to come back even after the suspension, claiming that his remarks “crossed the line, a very bright line that divides our country.”
On April 11, 2007, NBC News ‘ Steve Capus announced that, effective immediately, MSNBC would no longer simulcast Imus in the morning. While the decision came on the same day that a few advertisers left Imus, it also played a role in the network’s staff concerns. Sen. (and then-presidential candidate) Barack Obama, and several high-profile black NBC personalities, including Al Roker who had previously been a friendly guest on the show, opposed the return of Imus. The absence and silence of frequent NBC guests Brian Williams, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Chris Matthews and close friend Tim Russert from Imus was too evident to ignore and foreshadow the future action of NBC.
In announcing the decision, Steve Capus, President of NBC News, said:
These comments were deeply hurtful to many, many people. And we’ve had any number of employee conversations, discussions, emails, phone calls. And when you listen to the passion and the people who come to the conclusion that there should not be any room for this sort of conversation and dialogue on our air, it was the only decision we could reach.
CBS Radio canceled Imus in the morning the following day, effective immediately. CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said: From the outset, I believe we were all deeply upset and disgusted by the statements made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University with such class, energy, and talent at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. A lot of discussions has been going on about the effect language like this has on our youth, especially young women of color trying to make their way in this society. As we made our decision, that consideration weighed most heavily on our minds.
CBS chairman Sumner Redstone said the day before that he was confident that Moonves would “do the right thing,” but he didn’t elaborate. Shortly before the announcement was made, Moonves had met Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
In an internal memo, Moonves said employee concerns were a factor in the decision to cancel Imus ‘ show, but also said the decision was “about much more than Imus.” Moonves said CBS had to take Imus off the air to change “a culture that allows a certain level of objectionable expression that hurts and degrades a wide range of people.”
Seven sponsors either pulled out their ads or suspended ads on Imus ‘ show to protest his remarks— General Motors (Imus’s biggest advertiser), Staples Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Sprint Nextel, PetMeds, American Express, and Procter & Gamble. Another advertiser, Bigelow Tea, expressed uncertainty with Imus’s show in renewing their ads.
Just hours after his firing announcement, Imus met at Drumthwacket, the mansion of the New Jersey governor, with Stringer and her team. Buster Soaries, the former Secretary of State of New Jersey and the pastor of Stringer, arranged the three-hour meeting. Governor Jon Corzine of New Jersey planned to attend the meeting but was wounded on the way to the meeting in a car accident. Imus left without making any comments, but Stringer said the meeting was going well. She later commented that they had accepted the apology of Imus, and “It would be saddening for anyone to lose their job… And he came[ to the meeting] despite having lost his job. So let’s give him credit for that.” She also emphasized that the basketball team had not called for Imus to be fired.
Some reported that CBS was too harsh to cancel Imus ‘ show. Senator John Kerry said a “long suspension” would be “appropriate to pay a price on the airwaves, but I’m not sure that saying you’re off forever was appropriate.”
Don Imus Subsequent litigation
By May 2, 2007, Imus had hired prominent attorney Martin Garbus for the remaining $40 million on his five-year contract to pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit against CBS. The contract included a clause indicating that Imus had been hired and supported by CBS to display “irreverent” and “controversial” programming.
CBS announced a settlement on its $40 million contracts with Imus on August 14, 2007. On the same day, one of the women involved in the controversy, Rutgers basketball player Kia Vaughn filed a lawsuit against Imus, NBC Universal, CBS Corporation, MSNBC, CBS Radio, Viacom, Westwood One Radio, and Bernard McGuirk, citing character slander, libel, and defamation. The only player to pursue legal damages was Vaughn. On September 11, 2007, Vaughn dropped the lawsuit against Imus, citing her desire to focus on her studies and training in basketball.
Don Imus Return To Radio and Television
The Drudge Report reported on July 8, 2007 that Imus would return to the air before the presidential election of 2008. On July 16, 2007, the New York Post reported that Imus was searching for a black comedian to join the show as he returned to help cushion insensitive comments he might say on the air. On July 27, 2007, the same paper reported that CBS was close to an Imus contract buyout. In addition, the report said representatives of Imus had contacted Buckley Broadcasting, Citadel Broadcasting, and Clear Channel Communications. Imus reached a settlement over his contract with CBS Radio on August 14, leaving him free to pursue other media opportunities.
Citadel announced on November 1, that they had agreed to what would have been a multi-year syndication agreement with Imus. Citadel Media would distribute the new Imus in the Morning program nationally and start in December at the Citadel-owned WABC in New York City. The New York Times reported on November 14 that Imus had agreed to terms with RFD-TV cable network to air a new radio program’s video simulcast. In the new version of the show, Charles McCord and Bernard McGuirk joined Imus.
On December 3, on ABC Radio and RFD-TV, Imus returned to the airwaves. When asked about Imus ‘ return to the radio, Al Sharpton said in an interview, “We’re going to monitor him; I’m not saying I’m going to throw him a banquet and say welcome home. He’s got the right to make a living, but because he’s got such a consistent pattern, we’re going to monitor him to make sure he doesn’t do it again.” On April 4, 2008, Jesse Jackson appeared on “Imus in the morning” to discuss. Many media commentators declared Don Imus’s rehabilitation complete.
In 2008, Little Richard appeared on The Imus Ranch Record as a guest artist to help raise funds to benefit children who are sick and dying and to try to debunk the notion that Imus was racist. Imus signed a multi-year deal with Fox Business Network in September of that year to simulcast his morning radio show Imus. The program runs from 6–9 AM ET Monday through Friday and was broadcast for the first time on 5 October 2009.
On April 28, 2015, Imus announced that starting May 29, 2015, he would no longer broadcast his radio show on the Fox Business Network.
Don Imus Reaction From Presidential Candidates
On January 11, 2007, during the 2008 presidential election, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), an occasional guest at Imus in the morning, announced his candidacy while talking to Imus. Less than three months later, during the Rutgers controversy, Dodd publicly chastened Imus. Dodd later returned and appeared on-air after his return to WABC for Imus ‘ first broadcast, although his previous criticism of Imus was not mentioned.
The first week of Imus ‘ return to broadcast, in addition to Dodd, saw the return to his show of presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani, Sen. John McCain, Governor Mike Huckabee, and Governor Bill Richardson. Also appeared in 2004 was Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. During his campaign for the Senate in 2006, Imus supported Harold Ford Jr.
Don Imus Business interests
Don Imus was also a part owner of Autobody Express shops with his late brother, Fred (who was a frequent caller to the radio show, commenting on NASCAR races, NFL and related issues of pop culture). Within the Mohegan Sun Native American Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Autobody Express stores were located in Santa Fe. The company failed in 2003 and both stores were closed.
Imus still owns a small coffee and pastry shop in the casino of Mohegan Sun. Before the Imus Ranch Foods line was discontinued in 2014, the Autobody Express became Imus Ranch Foods, which offered its signature chips and salsa through online sales and in Northeastern stores. Imus Ranch Foods ‘ proceeds had helped fund the Imus Ranch’s work.
Don Imus Honors
Imus won four Marconi Awards, three for Major Market Personality of the Year (1990, 1992 and 1997) and one for Network Syndicated Personality (1994).
Imus was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America in Time magazine (April 21, 1997).
He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.
In 2002, Talkers magazine ranked Imus as one of the 25 greatest radio talk show hosts of all time.
He was placed on the cover of Time Magazine in 2007.
Don Imus Health
Imus fought alcoholism during his early years broadcasting in New York City. Michael Lynne, then his lawyer, persuaded him to attend Alcoholics Anonymous in 1983. Imus attended meetings and stopped drinking in public, but kept going in private. He attended rehabilitation for six weeks at a Hanley-Hazelden treatment center in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 17, 1987, after a nine-day vodka binge, and remained soberly. Imus had taken a vegetarian diet by 1991.
Imus suffered severe injuries at his ranch in 2000 after a fall from a horse and broadcast several hospital shows. The injuries resulted in chronic breathing problems, he complained about his program, especially at higher altitudes.
In March 2009, Imus was diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer.
Don Imus Ranch
In 1999, Imus and Deirdre founded the Imus Ranch, a 4,000-acre (16 km2) working cattle ranch near Ribera, New Mexico, 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Santa Fe, for cancer children and SIDS victims ‘ siblings. The Imus family volunteered their time each year at the Imus Ranch between Memorial Day and Labor Day until its closing in 2014. Imus continued his studio broadcasts, while the rest of his cast broadcast from New York.
He announced on his broadcast on September 9, 2014 that the New Mexico ranch would be sold because of his belief that the ranch had “run its course” as well as “health and other issues” (he specifically noted that his breathing had been damaged by a rib injury, making it difficult to breathe at high altitude in New Mexico). Proceeds from the sale of the property would go to a 501 charitable foundation to donate to the causes of cancer of children. The ranch was offered for sale in October 2014 with a $32 million asking price. After repeated efforts to do so, the ranch failed to sell, leading Imus to auction the property in May 2017. When sold, Imus has earmarked all proceeds from the sale for the foundation.
Don Imus Net Worth
Don has a net worth of $45 million dollars by working as an American radio host, writer, and also a photographer.
Don Imus Show| Radio Show
Imus in the Morning was a long-running radio show hosted by Don Imus. The show originated locally on June 2, 1968, originally on various local stations in the Western United States before settling on WNBC radio in New York City in 1971. In October 1988, the show moved to WFAN when that radio station took over WNBC’s dial position following an ownership change. It was later syndicated to 60 other stations across the country by the original Westwood One, a division of CBS Radio, airing weekdays from 5:30 to 10 am Eastern time. Beginning September 3, 1996, the 6 to 9 am portion was simulcast on the cable television network MSNBC.