Citadel gates open for Imus


UPDATED 11:26 p.m. PT Nov. 1, 2007

Don Imus has been hired by Citadel Broadcasting to host his own nationally syndicated radio program, confirming rumors that the shock-jock's exile from the airwaves was near over.

Imus will start his new show, together with his longtime newsman Charles McCord, beginning Dec. 3 at WABC-AM in New York City and on the ABC Radio Network, which Citadel has purchased from the Walt Disney Co., will handle syndication.

Citadel announced the new Imus show at the WABC Web site on Thursday and didn't respond to repeated requests for further comment.

"Don's unique brand of humor, knowledge of the issues and ability to attract big-name guests is unparalleled," said WABC general manager Steve Borneman. "He is rested, fired up and ready to do great radio."

The former "Imus in the Morning" program was famously canceled in April after Imus, while on air, called members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

The furor that ensued, stoked by women's and minority activists, prompted such prominent former guests of the show as Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama to publicly chastise the shock-jock. Under intense scrutiny for a week, CBS dropped the show. A day earlier, MSNBC canceled Imus' television talk show.

Bernard McGuirk, who produced "Imus in the Morning" and was fired along with Imus, was not mentioned in the Citadel announcement posted on the Web site Thursday.

The new Imus show will air from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on WABC in New York and will replace a show hosted by Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa and controversial attorney Ron Kuby.

Citadel purchased ABC Radio from Disney last year for $2.7 billion, giving it the ABC Radio Network and 22 stations, including WABC, which Citadel combined with its existing portfolio of 220 stations.

That Imus was negotiating with Citadel was not a secret, and Citadel CEO Farid Suleman recently told a reporter that Imus "more than paid the price for what he did."

Imus' firing in April was the first in a string of firestorms erupting over shock-jocks that some deemed overly shocking. Shortly after axing Imus, CBS fired Jeff Vandergrift and Dan Lay, known as JV and Elvis, for mocking Chinese restaurant employees.

After that, XM Satellite Radio suspended "The Opie & Anthony Show" when hosts Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia featured a character called Homeless Charlie discussing his sexual fantasies that involved First Lady Laura Bush and others.

More recently, top talker Rush Limbaugh was embroiled in controversy after he used the term "phony soldiers." Senate leader Harry Reid claimed the phrase referred to U.S. military personnel who disagreed with Iraq war policy and he fired off a letter -- signed by 41 Democrat senators -- to Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays asking him to censure Limbaugh.

Limbaugh, making the letter a cause celebre for free speech, auctioned the letter at eBay last month for $2.1 million, which he donated to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation.