Imus returns to air 8 months after firing


NEW YORK -- Nearly eight months after his remarks regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team and his subsequent termination by CBS Radio, shock jock Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday, launching his new talk show "Imus in the Morning."

As part of the new structure, two black cast members have been added to the show's team: comedian Karith Foster and sportscaster Tony Powell.

"Never in all my life did I think some grumpy old cowboy could convince me to get up at some ungodly hour, but I couldn't be happier to be here," Foster said. In response to the addition of two black members to the show, Powell joked, "It's the Tyler Perry, Oprah-sponsored version of the Imus show."

Returning to Imus' side were comedian Rob Bartlett and newsman Charles McCord.

Audience members began lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. for the chance to see Imus' live return, which was broadcast and recorded from Town Hall Theater in New York. It also appeared that an equal number of people were wondering whether he would be the same old Imus or whether the damage his career suffered would be permanent.

"I think one has to realize, as I do, that you don't get to decide how the media will portray what you say or put it in context ... but if I hadn't said what I said, then it wouldn't have happened," Imus said in a pseudo welcome-back speech in which he made a point to address the events of the spring.

He also assured the audience that "the program is not going to change." As a testament to that, Imus then fired off the remark that "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan and I am back on the air!"

Among his guests Monday were professor and political commentator Doris Kearns Goodwin, Sens. John McCain and Chris Dodd, political analysts James Carville and Mary Matalin and fellow shock jocks Opie and Anthony.

Imus signed a five-year contract with Citadel Radio, the parent of ABC Radio Networks. "I signed for five years because that's how long it is going to take to get even with everybody," he said.