Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 17, 2021

While the fall of Don Imus continues to be parsed and analyzed for potential ripple effects, I’m fairly surprised that no one’s really keyed in on the underlying, and more pertinent, reason for his dismissal:

The man who had earned an annual salary of about $10 million…

That’s all I’m going to snip, because that’s all that matters. When a media talent is making that much money, the people signing the checks will pounce on any chance to wipe that salary off the books. Imus may have been pulling in plenty of revenue for CBS, but not enough to convince Les Moonves and others that the network couldn’t attract practically as much with a lower-priced voice behind the mic. Once the major advertisers started bailing out, that just tilted the accounting ledger even more against Imus.

I’m not excusing Imus for his “nappy-headed hos” idiocy, nor am I arguing that the punishment was too severe. But anyone who thinks Imus’ pay rate was just a minor or inconsequential factor in his firing is missing the big picture.

Ultimately, this sequence of events shouldn’t be surprising. In fact, it’s par for the course regarding the radio biz and how it handles its shock-jocks:

[The 2004 firing of Bubba the Love Sponge was] a cynical move, especially because it shows how slimy [Clear Channel], and others like it, is. They’ll put raunchy programming on the air, encourage the personalities to continually push the limits in pursuit of ratings, probably with assurances that they’ll stand behind them. Then, once the heat gets too hot, they stab them in the back. That was the case with Viacom’s “Opie and Andy Show” in New York, and that’s exactly what happened with Bubba. It tells you just how meaningless a contract is in the radio industry.

With Imus, it was a double whammy of money and envelope-pushing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/17/2007 08:46:20 PM
Category: Celebrity, Radio
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3 Feedbacks »
  1. I don’t think that I agree. Imus was a name that it will be extremely difficult to replace. Only Howard Stern really compares. I’m sure that his salary was a factor, but I don’t think they were looking for an excuse. Not that they were doing it from the goodness of their hearts or his salary wasn’t a small factor, I think it most of it was the bad publicity (and unlike with small-time DJs, Imus was past the point where any publicity is good publicity).

    Comment by trumwill — 04/18/2007 @ 10:10:39 AM

  2. I agree that Stern and Imus are in a class by themselves. But look at how CBS fared after Stern left: They really didn’t suffer much. To a large extent, it’s a captive audience on the dial. As long as they get a passable replacement that emulates Imus’ style, I don’t see CBS taking much of a hit this time around.

    And that knowledge is what made Imus’ removal so quick. CBS may not have been actively looking for a way to dump his salary, but when this opening appeared, they grabbed it.

    Comment by CT — 04/18/2007 @ 11:52:08 PM


    If any “edgy” disc jockeys on America’s airwaves somehow thought that the Don Imus fiasco didn’t apply to them — watch out. CBS Radio today suspended the hosts of WFNY-New York’s “The Dog House With JV and Elvi…

    Trackback by Population Statistic — 04/23/2007 @ 10:36:17 PM

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