Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back in the saddle again

The phoenix known as Don Imus has apparently done it again. In a settlement reached Tuesday with CBS, his former employer, Imus effectively abandoned his $120 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against the network. The terms weren’t disclosed (they never are), but bet the ranch that Imus walked away with a sum considerably south of $120 million.

The settlement is thought to formally free Imus to pursue another radio show somewhere besides CBS. Four months after his career apparently went in the can for comments about the Rutgers women‘s basketball team, and the corrosive fallout from those comments, the shock jock who seemed to be wearing a KICK ME sign since the middle of April is ready to kick ass and take names.

It’s not clear where Imus will hang his black Stetson next. There was brief talk that Imus would somehow resurface on WFAN, the CBS Radio affiliate that aired his program nationally, but that was never a realistic option [see “Imus, arise!?!”] The PR damage would have been too profound for WFAN/CBS to weather. The only time Imus will be anywhere near CBS will be to scuttle up to the cashier’s window to collect that last fat check.

The Associated Press reported that “Imus has had informal talks with several broadcasters, including WABC in New York, about a possible comeback.”

Understandably at this juncture, WABC denies, denies, denies. “I’ve had no conversation with Mr. Imus and no one at Citadel or ABC has had any negotiation with him,” Steve Borneman, general manager of WABC radio, told the AP. [Citadel Broadcasting owns WABC and 140 other radio stations.]

Also unclear is who would join Imus on the staff and become a part of the New Imus Experience. It’s a safe bet that wherever he lands, Imus will again retain the services of Charles McCord, Imus’ longtime partner and sounding board, the closest thing to a voice of moderation Imus has probably known besides his wife. It’s hard to imagine Imus being stubborn or stupid enough to re-enlist bald mushwit producer Bernard McGuirk, the prince of intolerance and the catalyst of the remarks that got Imus offed on WFAN.

But you never know with Imus. He’s a man who’s made a career of the kind of enlightened stubbornness that has endeared him to millions, and made him millions in the process. His credo of the past will probably bring him back to a radio station near you: If a mistake is worth making at all, it’s worth making until you get it right.

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