Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dear Mr. Imus

228 Dear Imus,

Don, you had this coming. You broke a lot of ground for us in the radio business. You made it okay to do funny bits that didn’t conform to the norm. You made it okay for the rest of us to do idiotic pranks. You made it the norm for us to say what was on our minds.

And your imbecile comments about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team, though out of line, weren’t THAT out of line.

You were fired from your multi-million dollar jobs not because you called a few women “nappy headed hos," but because you have a long history of racist, sexiest remarks, and the people who put you on the air and kept you on the air had enough of the whole thing.

Fifty million is a lot of revenue to jeopardize. That’s what you brought in to MSNBC, which needs the money, to Westwood One, which desperately needs the money and CBS Radio which is as prudish as prudish can be, especially following Janet Jackson’s “Wardrobe Malfunction.”

Yours was a lexicographic malfunction. If this were the first time you used the phrase “nappy-headed hos,” people would have been shocked, but they’d have accepted your apologies. But this is NOT the first time.

You’ve been using racist and sexist metaphors and analogies for 30 years, maybe more.

So this is not about the comment. It’s about your history, a history of racial slurs and put downs. A history of comments so far off the wall that even the right wing talking heads couldn't bear it.

We all learned from you, Don. We all envied you, and the autonomy and freedom you had on the air. But you squandered it. And for that, we cannot forgive you.

We, your fans and your co-workers would like to remember the funny Imus, not the nasty, racist. We, your fans and co-workers, would like to remember the pioneering Imus, a guy who along with Ed Murrow and Martin Block and Arthur Godfrey made radio safe for opinion and humor.

That’s hard to do in the face of the Nappy Headed Ho comment, repeated endlessly.

We’d like to remember you as the guy who gave work to beginners, to the washed up. We’d like to remember all that charity work. We’d like to remember you as a funny, grumpy anorexic looking guy who helped save radio from the bland and had a hand on the tiller strong enough to prevent the truly obnoxious.

But little by little, you reneged on your contract, the one that said “be funny, be cute, be irreverent, be only slightly in bad taste.”

John Donald: Viacom’s Redstone is a blue nose. He probably never liked you – but he sure liked that 50 million dollar bottom line. Steve Capus’ heart has always been in the right place, and the money surely didn’t hurt MSNBC’s ailing bottom line.

But enough’s enough. Go find yourself one of those right wing short wave stations, where “nappy headed ho” is conventional speech – or find one of the satellite providers whose signal is for some unknown reason exempt from federal decency guidelines.

It’s a sad end. But somehow, fitting.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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