2007_04_arts_imus.jpgOn-air personalities (especially those of the "shock jock" genre) are really raising the bar in crossing the line this month. While there's been some high-profile stupid DJ behavior in the past - Hot 97's Tsunami Song, Opie & Anthony broadcasting a couple having sex at St. Patrick's, DJ Star asking listeners for information where a radio rival's young daughter goes to school so he could ejaculate and pee on her - the last week has been a doozy.

First the 92.3 Doghouse DJs called New York band A Brief Smile: "faggots" (amongst other things). Then last Wednesday Don Imus called the Rutgers' women "nappy-headed hos" during his morning show (which airs to millions of listeners on more than 70 stations nationwide as well as the MSNBC television channel). The remark went something like this:

"That's some rough girls from Rutgers," Imus said. "Man, they got tattoos ..."

"Some hardcore hos," said [producer Bernard] McGuirk.

"That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that," Imus said.

After the furor, Imus apologized saying, “I want 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.”

Many are calling the apology "too little, too late". Reverend Al Sharpton is among those not turning a deaf ear. He stated on Saturday, "I accept his apology, just as I want his bosses to accept his resignation." He promised to picket Imus's New York radio home, WFAN-AM, unless Imus is gone within a week. CBS, which owns WFAN, the station that broadcasts Imus, and MSNBC say they are "reviewing" and "monitoring" the situation, but haven't made any moves to fire him. And yesterday, Reverend Jesse Jackson said his Rainbow Push Coalition would picket outside the Chicago NBC affiliates. However, Imus has been around forever - and is actually gaining new listeners.

According to the NY Times, last year he increased his (MSNBC) viewers by 100,000, for an average daily total of 358,000, per Nielsen estimates - and this is hardly the first time Imus has used racist or sexist slurs in his broadcast. In fact, in 2001 he took a pledge, guided by the Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page, to refrain from making further racist comments on his program (he reportedly called Gwen Ifill "a cleaning lady" - though this morning he denied making the comment). Jackson also noted the sexist nature of Imus's words, "Women ought to protest, and men who have a mother, daughter or wife ought to protest." Interestingly, Imus recently criticized Katie Couric's performance on the CBS Evening News; while that's nothing new, Imus said, "Doing little stupid chit-chat stuff on an idiotic morning show on NBC has nothing to do with sitting down and doing the news. That's big-boy television." Which makes us think Couric should go out and interview the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Today, Imus apologized again on his broadcast. From the AP:

Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it," he said on his nationally syndicated radio show Monday morning. "And because the climate on this program has been what it's been for 30 years doesn't mean it's going to be what it's been for the next five years or whatever."

Imus said he was "embarrassed" by the remarks, in which he referred to the mostly black team as "nappy-headed hos." He said he had made the comments in the course of "trying to be funny," but he was not trying to excuse them.

"I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person, but I said a bad thing. But these young women deserve to know it was not said with malice," he said.

He added that he was appearing on Al Sharpton's radio show and was grateful for that opportunity. Is it too much to hope that Sharpton will rip him a couple new ones?

Imus's onetime sports-update announcer, Sid Rosenberg, was fired when he said about Kylie Minogue, who was fighting breast cancer, she "ain't gonna be so beautiful when the bitch got a bald head and one titty." And in 2004 Imus, who has a ranch in New Mexico, fired his son's nanny labeling her "as dangerous and a 'terrorist,'" after she gave his son a cap gun to play with while on vacation there (the Brooklynite promptly sued).