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John Donald "Don" Imus is a radio personality famous for his "insult humor" as well as a philanthropist working to help children with cancer and other groups.
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Despite his chemical dependencies, Imus's morning show thrived for several years before he finally sought treatment again in 1987. That same year, WFAN all-sports radio bought WNBC, but opted to retain Imus's show upon his return from a treatment program. When the show initially dropped in the ratings, Imus decided to eliminate music from his show entirely and go to an all-talk format. With his affinity for frank and unpretentious social and political commentary, along with his usual gags and pranks,
Imus earned new fans and once again became a hit, paving the way for similar comedy-news morning shows. Critics admired his ability to simultaneously get away with coarse and seemingly irreverent banter, and also attract respectable and serious politicians and other guests to his show. Not only that, but, as one reviewer noted, he was able to elicit relaxed and uncommonly forthcoming answers from his otherwise guarded guests such as Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey; prior NYC mayors David N. Dinkins and Rudolph W. Giuliani; Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press; and President Bill Clinton.
This success earned Imus numerous recognitions, including four Marconi Awards, two Major Market Personality of the Year awards, one of Time magazine's "Most Influential Americans" awards (1997), Major Market Personality of the Year, and an award for Syndicated Personality of the Year. Imus also became a member of the Emerson Radio Hall of Fame (1989) and the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcasting Hall of Fame (1996). Additionally, Imus has written several books including God's Other Son (1981/1994) and two books he co-authored with his brother Fred Imus, including Two Guys Four Corners (1997) and Big Guy Country (2001).
A biting and, some say, unacceptably insulting speech at the Radio-Television Correspondents Association dinner in Washington D.C. in 1996, earned Imus new fans and dissenters alike. He was particularly harsh toward President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton, both of whom were in attendance. Imus' defended his behavior with the assertion that he refused to be a hypocrite.
Despite the heavy criticism, Imus has refused to hold back his opinions, both on and off the air. His habit of making cutting, off-the-cuff statements has landed him in hot water in many times, and made him the target of several lawsuits—including one in 2004 regarding his negative comments about a doctor. But his derogatory remarks about the Rutgers University's women's basketball team members in 2007 brought unprecedented ramifications to Imus's career.
A few days after the insulting statements were broadcast, Don Imus told his listeners that he wanted "to take a moment to apologize for an insensitive and ill-conceived remark we made the other morning regarding the Rutgers women's basketball team. It was completely inappropriate, and we can understand why people were offended. Our characterization was thoughtless and stupid, and we are sorry." He also appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's syndicated radio program in another effort to apologize for his comment.
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