Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Donald Imus, Jr. (born July 23, 1940) is a controversial radio talk show host. He is best known for his sarcasm and the harsh language he directs towards his guests. Despite this (or because of it), his daily morning show on New York's WFAN -- which is syndicated nationwide -- is widely popular and many guests including prominent politicians such as U.S. Sen. John S. McCain III (R-Ariz.) and U.S. Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tennessee) and reporters from NBC and MSNBC, which simulcasts part of his talk show on cable television MSNBC.
First 20 years: comedy and music bits
Don Imus was born in Riverside, California. He started as a radio deejay in 1968. At KXOA in Sacramento, his pranks, such as calling up a restaurant and ordering 1,200 hamburgers to go, made his show immensely popular and raised ratings. He recorded a comedy album, "One Sacred Chicken to Go" in 1970. After a stint at WGAR (AM) in Cleveland, Ohio, Imus moved to New York City in 1971 where he gained a reputation as a loose cannon who often favored crude humor. In 1977 WNBC-AM Radio fired all of its on-air talent, including Imus. However, a year later when Robert Sherman was hired as the new general manager of WNBC-AM, he reinstated Imus, giving him back his morning drive timeslot. During this period, Imus also worked with fellow shock jock Howard Stern at WNBC-AM Radio. In 1978 WNEW-TV Channel 5 in New York gave Imus a late-night program which only lasted one season. Imus was the inaugural VJ for the launch of the VH-1 cable network in the early 1980s. In 1988 WNBC-AM was sold to Emmis Broadcasting; as a result, WNBC-AM permanently signed off the air and Emmis's WFAN-AM was moved from its 1050 AM spot to WNBC's former spot, 660 AM. "Imus in the Morning" remained at 660 AM among WFAN's sports programs. Throughout this period, Imus's music and comedy bits were staples of the program.
1988: A big change, news and talk
After a highly self-publicized battle with cocaine and alcohol, in 1988 Imus reshaped his show into a forum for political issues, charitable causes and parodies. His show now revolved solely around politics and talk; the became nationally syndicated in 1993, and is simultaneously broadcast on cable television's MSNBC. In the 1990s Imus and his wife Deirdre founded the Imus Ranch , a charitable organization which operates a working ranch in New Mexico for children and their siblings with cancer or SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Imus has four daughters from a previous marriage and a son (Frederick Wyatt) from his current marriage. As a result of his wife Deidre being a vegetarian, both Imus and his son have become vegetarians. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year, Imus' family goes to the New Mexico ranch, during which Imus broadcasts from a studio on the ranch, while the rest of his cast broadcasts from New York city.
Featured cast members of the "Imus in the Morning" radio show include Charles McCord , his newsman, Bernard McGuirk , his producer, Larry Kenney and Rob Bartlett, who perform various character voices for the program including that of former President Richard Nixon, and sports reporter Sid Rosenberg . Part of the appeal of his cable show is the overt display of office politics; Sid is frequently the butt of Imus' sarcasm, largely because of Sid's outspoken point of view, while Charles works very hard at being neutral, and hence stays out of Imus' line of fire. Another theme is the rivalry between Sid and Bernard. When Imus has a guest of some fame, Imus usually asks obvious questions, which forces the guest to impart fundamental information. This apparently is the major part of Imus' education. In 2000, Imus was a Bush supporter; however, because of the Iraq war, Imus is now critical of Bush's 2004 campaign. Imus does not hesitate to broadcast parody songs and voices which comment on national and local New York events. Imus generally selects Western songs to broadcast, and wears a signature cowboy hat during his broadcasts. During his interview with Larry King, Imus and Deirdre both wore Western clothing and cowboy hats.
Don Imus is also a part owner of the Autobody Express with his brother, Fred. The Autobody Express stores were located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and inside of the Mohegan Sun Native American Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. In 2003 the company failed and both stores closed. He still owns a small coffee/pastry store also located in the Mohegan Sun casino. The Autobody Express became Imus Ranch Foods, which offers it's signature chips and salsa via online sales and in Northeast U.S. stores. The procedes from Imus Ranch Foods help fund the work of the Imus Ranch.
Very much like his former co-worker and fellow broadcaster Howard Stern, Don Imus is licensed to carry a concealed hand-gun for his protection. This license was issued by the New York City Police Department.
- There are two books on Imus: America's Cowboy and Everything Imus.
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