Radio's original bad boy
took the radio world by storm when he arrived in New
York to host WNBC's morning show in 1971. His
lightning wit, powerful radio voice and outrageous
phone manner earned him heaps of scorn and adulation.
Life magazine even speculated that the I-man might
someday fill then-"Tonight Show" host
Johnny Carson's shoes. The "Imus in the Morning
Show" is now broadcast on WFAN in New York and
carried by 80-plus stations nationwide. L. A. Radio
Guide caught up with Don Imus before his L.A. debut
the second week of July on KLAC AM 570.
RG: Do you know the
competition out here?
Imus: No. Who's out there?
RG: Robert W. Morgan...
Imus: I love the way he talks up those intros. Morgan
and I have been friends for 20 years.
RG: You're from
California, aren't you?
Imus: I was born in Riverside and raised in Southern
California and Arizona.
RG: What about Kevin and
Bean, Howard Stern ...
Imus: Why would I care about that? We'll be No. 1 in
three weeks -- OK, three years, OK, 30 years. I don't
give a f___ about all this. No one who has been
listening to Robert W. Morgan is going to stop
listening and listen to me, or Stern or any of those
other people. We'll find an audience there
eventually. It's an acquired taste. Some people think
it sucks; other people don't.
RG: You're going to be on
an adult standards station...
Imus: What the f____ does that mean? We're on a
sports station in New York; it doesn't make any
difference. We're on a jazz station in Minneapolis.
We're on a bunch of classic rock stations around the
RG: Are you excited about
being in L.A.?
Imus: We're on every place else in California. We're
on in Sacramento, San Jose, Santa Barbara,
Bakersfield, Palm Springs, San Diego, Riverside, San
RG: This is a big
political year coming up. Are you going to be
involved? You made huge waves with your guest
appearance at that dinner with the Clintons.
Imus: We're going to do what we normally do. We're
very happy to be on in L.A.
RG: Is there any
adjustment that you would make to your show, because
you're on in L.A.? More traffic reports?
Imus: No. We do the show the way they do the
"Today Show." It allows KLAC to do whatever
the f___ they want to do 20 minutes an hour, so they
can have time for their traffic updates, their Rodney
King beating updates...
RG: What do think about
Imus: It's a Third World country, isn't it? That's
what Morgan says.
RG: There is a huge thing
about the border here, Prop 187...
Imus: Do they have radios?
RG: Did you know that the
No. 1 station is a Hispanic station?
Imus: I know that. Even though Stern and I work for
the samecompany [Infinity Broadcasting], it's not the
same audience. Anyone who listens to Stern is not
going to listen to me. I would say the same would be
true for someone who listens to Rick Dees or Mark and
Brian. You have to read the newspaper.
RG: There were some
rumors before that you were going to come to L.A. --
maybe on KIIS-AM.
Imus: I don't get involved with that, but I know it's
about money. The show, like Stern's show and my show
-- they charge money for them, an enormous amount of
money. For example, Boston pays a million dollars a
year for this program. D.C. pays a half million. This
is the 83rd market we're going in. The local radio-TV
guys, sometimes, they f___ ing hate us. Either that
or they like us. And the audience that is listening
to the radio station is horrified. Often, I sit down
with the GMs, and I explain the following to them:
'The reason you're getting all these calls is people
are pissed off. The people who are listening to your
station like it. There are just not enough of them
listening. But the ones who are calling you, they
were happy with what you were doing, so they don't
want to hear some punk on the radio from New York.
They don't want to hear that.
RG: Do you think you
might come out here?
Imus: Probably, because we go all over. We just did a
whole goober tour to Memphis, Little Rock and
Wichita, Bramson and Raleigh, as a trailer park
RG:Do you think that you
are going to get involved in California politics?
Imus: We weren't heavily
involved in the governor's race. I was a big Kathleen
RG: You skew a bit
Imus: We have as many Republicans as Democrats. I'm
nonpartisan. Everyone gets hammered. I don't have any
real agenda. We're not trying to get people elected;
it's not that kind of deal.
RG: How about some of the
characters you created who made your show famous: the
Rev. Billy Sol Hargus... Are they still on the show?
Imus: No, there is a lot of different parts. You have
RG: We're excited to have
you out here.
Imus: It will be fun. It will take a while to find an
audience. It took two years in Washington. Some
places it happens quickly, and some places it takes
RG: You know this is the
No. 1 market in terms of money made by radio
Imus: The station I am on in New York is the No. 2
billing station in the country, behind WGN in
Chicago. We'll do well there; we're not going to be
No. 1. Everyone understands that.
RG: How long has it taken
you to get on in L.A.?
Imus: They have been negotiating off and on for about
a year or so. It's the old Joseph Heller deal where
the station has to be in a situation where they need
to do this.
RG: They told me at the
station [KLAC] the morning was their weakest
Imus: They also have to come up with money to pay for
RG: Now you're working
with Chancellor [owns KLAC]...
Imus: Great outfit, I am told. They are coming in
next week to shoot the sh___.
RG: What kind of venue do
you think you'll come to?
Imus: Is the Ranch Market still there on Vine in
Hollywood? When I was trying to make it in the record
business back in the '60s, I used to sleep behind a
dryer near the Ranch Market and go around looking for
money in phone booths and stand near the heaters they
have there and drink coffee and doughnuts. Or the
Farmer's Market at Third and Fairfax.