Monday, April 16, 2007

Imus-Free Mornings

THIS MONDAY MORNING, for the first time in about 5,000 or 6,000 mornings, New Yorkers did not have the option of spending quality radio time with the Imus in the Morning Show on WFAN. Instead, the same 660 AM spectrum cruelly brought listeners a wholly unnecessary dose of Mike & the Mad Dog, the station’s usual afternoon drive sports talk show team that will be filling in until management decides how best to replace Don Imus.

By now even alien life forms are aware of the three infamous words that cost the broadcasting legend his morning radio program and possibly his career after more than 30 years in business. I used to be a huge fan going back more than a decade, when the show was still based more on scripted skits and celebrity imitations than on interviews with broadcasting bigwigs and politico blowhards. Way ahead of the curve as usual, last August I announced in these very pages that I was in fact personally boycotting the I-Man, not because of any problem I had with the racial tone of the show, but simply because Imus had effectively turned the program over to his producer, Bernard McGuirk, and a steady coterie of in-studio regulars like the sanity-challenged ex-NYC cop Bo Deitl and redneck jackasses like Larry the Cable Guy. Plus, I grew tired of his quest to be all things to all people, trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator in his listening audience while simultaneously trying to play the intellectual as he chatted with writers and pundits. Despite his eventual opposition to the Iraq war, in my opinion Imus far too often gave passes to right wing hacks, and that was why I wished him into the cornfield, but I never wanted the guy fired. It’s like when eventually you’ve had enough of your parents at a certain age, all their arbitrary rules and insanity, so you decide to run away from home. Well, you still don’t want anything bad to happen to your mom and dad; you just need a break. That’s the point I reached with Imus. I wasn’t gonna listen every day, but once in a while you tuned in to hear a few yucks, as Imus himself used to put it.

Ultimately, it was bad karma that did in the I-Man. Having banned Sid Rosenberg for his own more-than-just-tasteless comments about black athletes, loyal-to-a-fault Imus finally relented and let him call in to the show once in a while; it was Rosenberg who Imus was talking to when he made his fateful wisecrack about the Rutgers players. And it was his own producer Bernie who egged him on. The perfect storm of imbecility did in the I-Man, and it was his own fault. It was far from the first time that Imus had gone over the line, but this time there was Internet video to capture it and bloggers and commentators to hammer away at his latest transgression. And somehow, at least for me, it was much worse to actually see Imus saying those words than listening to it firsthand or hearing about it after the fact.

No matter how bad the fallout WFAN had to deal with, there is no reason to subject listeners to Mike Francesa and Chris Russo so early in the morning. The station plans to have the duo perform double duty, at least for a couple weeks – doing the morning show and then their own show afternoons at 2:00. That is a train wreck waiting to happen. If this morning is any indication, where the two know-it-alls were joined (for some unexplained reason) by longtime Imus sidekick Charles McCord, New Yorkers are in for insufferably bad radio, because the two sports hosts are singularly unsuited for a time slot that requires at least a small degree of irreverence and wit, such that I predict the two will become even bigger caricatures and parodies of themselves.

Late last week when news of the Imus firing came down, Mike and the Mad Dog predictably went into full-on outrage-slash-self-righteous mode, with both vociferously blasting station management for their disloyalty and cowardice toward their guy, who brought in more money for the station than anyone. So why do they bail out CBS management by agreeing to fill in as morning replacements? I gotta admit, I had already had it with those two, but just for that sleazy move alone, I will be rooting against these two loudmouths for a long, long time.
With all the furor over Don’s and Ho’s in the news, I found it more than a little ironic that this very weekend fate saw fit to "announce" that one quite unnappily-headed Ho – smooth-voiced Hawaiian pop singer Don Ho – finally passed on to that great big luau in the sky. I doubt the classy crooner best known for rockin’ the Tiny Bubbles ever called women ho’s or bitches in his songs, but I could be wrong; maybe he planned to use his great god-given monicker (MC Ho, anyone?) to cut a few gangster rap albums to cash in on the hip-hop market. *****************************************************************
I have a system when it comes to the start of a new baseball season: I simply pay no attention until 10 games have been played. That means not watching or listening to games, not even looking at box scores in the paper. Sure, I know A-Rod’s off to a great start, and the Mets are in second place (sweet!), but who cares if someone is hitting .575 after four games. At least 10 games is a body of work, however small, that you can go on. My system worked out better than usual this year, what with the absolutely awful weather we’re getting on the East Coast and in the Midwest, with rain-outs, snow-outs, frigid temps, no sun whatsoever... And with the NBA and NHL playoffs starting, and the NFL draft less than two weeks away, there’s no great urgency to follow baseball closely for at least another 10 games or so. The Yanks are struggling along with a sub-.500 record, Mariano blew a save yesterday, and the injuries to their starting rotation continue to mount, but as long as the Mets or Red Sox don’t run away and hide, I’m OK for now.
That wacky power pop festival I went to in Brooklyn a few weeks ago is still making news. As I mentioned, a great time was had by all, but I never knew that I was attending some historical event. Apparently it was the power pop version of Woodstock, at least according to this week’s Village Voice, which featured a gushing review of the event. No mention of $11 drinks and $6 beers at the bar, but hey, a small price to pay I guess to see six bands for $22!


Johnny Starr said...

I am sure Imus will be back. This will blow over after a while. I was a guest on his show helpimg my friend raise funds for his 9/11 doucumentary "Brothers on Holy Ground". He comes off as a grouchy old pain in the ass, but the guy has a heart of gold. He donated over $10,000 to help my friend finish his documentary.

jimithegreek said...

They are going to call the new Mike & Mad Dog morning show FATSO & FRUIT LOOPS as so aptly named by Imus! Imus is till a better man than those two cacklin clowns, corporate extortionists, racists sharpton & jackson!!!

jimithegreek said...

btw...I may have a Dell PC if you want it. ya gotta call me as I got new phone same number but lost my numbers in the phone

Save Imus Gear said...

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