Bob Sherman, the radio executive who hired Howard Stern (good idea) and re-hired Don Imus (bad idea) at WNBC, has passed away, at 69. His son told The New York Times that the cause of death was cancer.

When Sherman was hired by WNBC back in 1979, the station was struggling. His early moves basically created the shock jock genre. First, he re-hired Imus, who had — surprise! — been fired years before for acting unprofessional. With Imus' rants filling the airwaves, things picked up for the station almost immediately. Sherman obviously recognized that having someone saying mostly annoying, offensive things was good for WNBC's bottom line, because years later he hired Howard Stern.

According to Sherman, WNBC got to experience Stern's unique brand of humor right away. He told New York magazine that executives told Stern not to talk about sex and religion, so, of course, one of Stern's early bits was something called "Virgin Mary Kong," which was "about God’s new video game in which a bunch of guys kept chasing the Holy Mother around a singles bar." Hmm... Is that available on Xbox?

Sherman's business savvy served him well after he left WNBC in 1982. He went on to start an advertising agency, launched two radio networks, became a senior officer at AOL/Time Warner and served as chairman of the Double O Radio network.

Check out this old ad for WNBC featuring the dynamic duo of Stern and Imus.