Radio host Don Imus in talks with Fox Business Network
Fox Business is in talks with shock jock Don Imus about simulcasting his radio show, more than two years after derogatory comments he made about a group of African American female basketball players got him kicked off MSNBC and CBS Radio.
The provocative and popular radio host is in final negotiations with the financial news network, which plans to simulcast his syndicated early-morning radio show, possibly from 3 to 6 a.m. Pacific time, as MSNBC did, according to a source familiar with the discussions. No deal is in place yet between the two parties, but if the talks conclude as anticipated, the arrangement could start sometime in September.
Since late 2007, “Imus in the Morning” has been simulcast on RFD-TV, a cable network that covers rural America and agriculture, an arrangement that would end with the new Fox Business Network deal, the source said.
A spokesman for Imus had no immediate comment.
"We talk to interesting and engaging talent all the time,” said Irena Briganti, a spokeswoman for Fox Business.
The wooing of the plain-spoken radio host underscores the upstart cable network’s efforts to cast itself as the populist answer to business news. When Fox Business launched in October 2007, network executives said they were programming for Main Street, as well as Wall Street. It remains to be seen how the often-crass style of the craggy cowboy, who has a ranch in New Mexico, will mesh with the channel’s flashy New York aesthetic.
But there's no question that the move would add some firepower to Fox Business' morning line-up. Imus' show would replace current programming, which now includes "Fox Business Morning," hosted by Connell McShane and Jenna Lee, and "Money for Breakfast," anchored by Alexis Glick and Eric Bolling. Nielsen Media Research does not yet release public ratings for Fox Business, which is now available in about 50 million homes. Competitor CNBC reaches almost twice as many households.
The move would also underscore the public rehabilitation of Imus, whose on-air description of the Rutgers women’s basketball players as “some nappy-headed hos” in 2007 triggered widespread condemnation. The sharp-tongued host apologized for his remarks, calling them “insensitive and ill-conceived.” But that did not stem the tide of criticism from activists such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and national women’s groups. Advertisers such as General Motors and American Express pulled their spots off his MSNBC show. After the cable network yanked his simulcast, CBS Radio canceled his program altogether.
Imus eventually secured a termination settlement with CBS and found a new home on Citadel Broadcasting, out of WABC in New York. Many of the politicians and journalists who were guests on his old show returned. Recently, he has devoted time on the air to discussing his prostate cancer, which was diagnosed in March.
-- Matea Gold
Photo: Associated Press