Don Imus Close To Deal for Return To Airwaves Dec. 1
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Don Imus appears to be heading back to the airwaves.
Less than six months after his long-running radio program was terminated in an uproar over a racial remark, the sharp-tongued host has come to financial terms with one of the nation's top broadcasting companies.
A source familiar with the situation, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said the contractual details would likely be finalized within a week. Although the deal, which would pay Imus millions of dollars, might hit a last-minute snag, the Imus team is confident that he will be back on the air around Dec. 1.
Citadel Broadcasting, which owns 243 radio stations, including ABC Radio Networks, plans to put the I-Man in the morning slot on the powerhouse New York station WABC, the source said. The program would be offered in syndication to other stations around the country.
Imus is also seeking a television outlet to simulcast the show, but that is less definite. Imus has discussed the possibility that Fox Business Network, a new channel that Fox News is launching next week, would carry the radio show. The informal talks with Imus came at a lunch with Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, according to a Fox executive, but there have been no serious negotiations.
Imus was fired in April by CBS Radio and MSNBC, which simulcast his show, after remarks that sparked a national debate about crude language and racial humor on the airwaves. He called the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," and apologized repeatedly after the comment was widely publicized. Members of the team later accepted his apology.
In August, Imus reached a settlement with CBS, reported to be worth $10 million to $20 million, that averted a threatened lawsuit and cleared the way for him to seek a new outlet.
Farid Suleman, Citadel Broadcasting's chief executive, did not respond to a request for comment yesterday. But the New York Times Web site quoted him as saying of Imus: "He did something wrong. He didn't break the law. He's more than paid the price for what he did." Imus's lawyer declined to comment.
Imus is now assembling his broadcast team, which in light of the controversy is likely to include a black panelist. Longtime sidekick Charles McCord plans to return, and producer Bernard McGuirk -- who often made controversial remarks and was involved in the exchange about the Rutgers team -- would be retained in an off-air role.