Monday, November 05, 2007

Old gasbags never die

The news that Don Imus is returning to radio came as no big surprise to me. Imus' reputation is such that somebody was bound to give the washed-up old blowhard another chance if he wanted it. (WABC got rid of Curtis Sliwa to make room for Imus, which suggests a surprisingly shallow talent pool in the nation's #1 market.) But why would RFD-TV, a fledgling cable channel best known for agricultural programming, be interested in offering Imus a syndication deal? RFD-TV founder and president Patrick Gottsch explains:

"The biggest obstacle we've had in the last three years is convincing urban-based program directors in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and so on that they need to be carrying this 'rural' network," Gottsch said. "Imus helps us cross those borders."

Yeah, a few cracks about "nappy-headed hos" will certainly help to transcend that hillbilly image.

It's not that Don Imus is untalented; nobody hangs around in radio for nearly 40 years without having a pretty good idea of how to make the medium work. Apart from being a racist, misogynistic boor, Imus has probably inspired more bad radio than anyone else in the history of broadcasting. Rush Limbaugh would be inconceivable without Imus paving his way. Imus' real legacy, though, is the legion of insufferable "morning zoo" programs, lame acts such as Bob & Tom and John-Boy & Billy; mediocrities who sound like they hired five guys to sit in the back of the studio to make sure that somebody laughs at their jokes. If you wonder why you can't hear music on the radio on your way to work anymore, blame Don Imus.

Timothy Noah has compiled some of the low points of Imus' career.

(Crossposted at Corrente.)

UPDATE: At Corrente, Lambert completes the title of the post for us. Old gasbags never die, he says, "they just fart away..."