Don Imus

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This is the Imus in the Morning program. We're not happy 'till you're not happy.


Don Imus (23 July 1940 - 27 December 2019) was a former radio DJ. He hosted the show Imus in the Morning on the radio, later simulcast over various cable channels, from the 1970s to 2018.

He began as a DJ in California with a series of gigs at several small stations in the 1960s. Following a stint at WGAR (AM) radio in Cleveland, Ohio he moved to WNBC radio in New York City in 1971 and there created his signature program, Imus in the Morning. In 1977 he was fired along with several other of the station's personalities in an effort to revamp the station's sound and boost ratings. (Other sources -- including Imus himself -- point to his then considerable drug problem as the cause for his dismissal.) He returned to Cleveland as the afternoon DJ at WHK, which for the rest of his career he referred to as his "banishment". In 1979 he was rehired by NBC and returned triumphantly to New York, where he remained the reigning morning jock through the 80s and 90s, even after WNBC was sold and became the all-sports station WFAN. In 1993, Imus in the Morning became nationally syndicated and in 1996 it began being simulcast on MSNBC.

In 2007, in the wake of a scandal involving his use of insulting and racially-charged language on the air to describe members of the Rutgers University women's college basketball team, MSNBC dropped his show. After several major sponsors departed, the show was cancelled outright in April of that year. In November, though, Citadel Broadcasting hired him, and in December 2007 he returned to the airwaves on WABC radio in New York and Citadel's RFD-TV cable network. Eventually he returned to simulcasting on the Fox Business Network.

In 2015, Imus ended the FOX simulcasting deal, left New York and moved to Brenham, Texas, from which he broadcast a radio-only show with the rest of his cast working from WABC's New York studio. However, with the bankruptcy of Citadel, Imus ended his show permanently in March 2018.

Imus in the Morning started as a fairly typical morning drive-time rock program, leavened with comedic sketches. Over the years, though, the music began to take a back seat to a unique mix of comedy and commentary, punctuated with a wide selection of recurring Special Guests, including local and national politicians, and oddball figures like private investigator Bo Dietl, and author/musician Kinky Friedman. In the last two decades of its existence, the show gave up on music altogether, transitioning to a pure talk radio format.

In addition to radio, Imus was active in other media. In 1978 he hosted a Talk Show, Imus Plus, on WNEW-TV in New York. In 1981 he published God's Other Son, a comic novel based on a character from one of his regular sketches, the Reverend Billy Sol Hargus. He was one of the original VJs on VH-1. He also recorded three comedy albums in the 1970s. He and his second wife Deidre also supported or outright ran numerous charitable organizations, including an environmental health center affiliated with Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey and a ranch for children with cancer and the siblings of SIDS victims located in New Mexico.

In 2009 he revealed that he had prostate cancer, and that he had chosen to treat it holistically instead of receiving radiation treatments. The cause of his death in 2019 was not revealed, but is believed to have been related to the cancer.

Don Imus provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Camp Gay: Pretty much the only type of homosexual male depicted on the show well into the 1990s; examples include his frequent lampoons of the Gay Men's Chorus of NY and "What About Your Gloves?", a parody of Heart's "What About Love" made at the height of the early AIDS panic.
    • Imus was noticeably homophobic during the early decades of his show, using "homo" as a generic pejorative for anything he didn't like -- for example, when adjustable plastic snaps were added to baseball hats, he disapproved and called them "homo bands". However, in the 1990s he eliminated the overt homophobia in his show (sometimes trumpeting that he did so, such as when he pointed out repeatedly that he now called the "homo band" the "hip strip"). Even so, he still reverted to his older behavior even years later, such as in 2007, when he called a tennis team affiliated with Jon McEnroe "the Hampton Homos".
  • Cowboy: An image Imus cultivated later in his career, even going so far as to wear a cowboy hat and gun on the air and off.
  • Creator Couple: At least one (former) girlfriend was a prominent member of the cast during the 1980s.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Often implied about his Camp Gay characters.
  • Follow the Leader: Imus was the groundbreaker who made Howard Stern possible. (In fact, Imus's station was Stern's first job in New York, and they were coworkers for several years.) Among other innovations, Imus in the Morning was the first show to use its behind-the-microphone production crew as an on-the-air cast of characters.
  • Egocentrically Religious/Holier Than Thou: The Reverend Billy Sol Hargus.
  • Fundamentalist: Parodied with his character Reverend Billy Sol Hargus.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "The Adventures of Tres Huevos", a regular sketch influenced by The Lone Ranger and inspired by a benign medical condition of Imus'.
  • Homage, bordering on Plagiarism: The "Billy Sol Hargus" sketches take a great deal of inspiration -- as well as their theme song -- from the Gold Coast Singers' 1962 recording of "Plastic Jesus".
  • King Missile: Imus was inordinately entertained by their 1992 song "Detachable Penis" and seemed to play it at least once a day for several years in the 1990s.
  • Made on Drugs: His material from the 1970s and 1980s (and 1990s, according to some sources). His banishment to Cleveland was in response to his drug problem, according to him.
  • Nuke'Em: A Catch Phrase during his early years, where the failings of a person or organization who had annoyed Imus or a listener would be discussed, after which he would play a recording of the entire cast yelling "Nuke'em!" followed by an explosion sound effect.
  • Preppy Name: Possessed by the main characters of "The Adventures of Biff and Muffy, The Peppy Preppies" and their friends. Naturally.
  • Product Placement: For many years a show never went by without a plug for some product made by "Autobody Express", a company he co-owned with his brother Fred -- which had started out as a genuine auto body shop, but thanks to national exposure on the show branched out into a lot more, including clothing and salsa.
  • The Rival: Former co-worker Howard Stern.
  • Shock Jock: The Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Creator.
  • Sidekick/Straight Man: Newscaster Charles McCord, from the 1970s until he retired in 2011. In addition to McCord, the Imus show had a rotating supporting cast, including brother Fred, producer Bernard McGuirk, comedian/impressionist Rob Bartlett, and even one of his girlfriends during the 1980s.
  • Song Parody: One of the first DJs, if not the first, to create original parodies as part of his show. They often were inspired by current events or savaged public figures.
  • White Anglo Saxon Protestant: Recurring sketch "The Adventures of Biff and Muffy, the Peppy Preppies" featured a pair as its "heroes".
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