Before Howard Stern, the term “shock jock” was usually associated with Don Imus.
Imus passed away on Friday at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, TX.
Imus was 79 years old.
The industry was put on alert very early on that Imus was going to be a “problem.” Before he ever took to the airwaves, Imus was kicked out of the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences.
Once he got on the airwaves, he continued to swim upstream. One of Imus’ early pranks involved calling a local McDonald’s posing as a National Guard member.
That prank led to the FCC writing a new rule that required radio hosts to honestly identify themselves when they were putting a caller on the air.
Imus was like no other DJ during his time, which ended up giving him a lot of leeway and an ever-growing bank account. Throughout his career, employers tolerated his off-air antics because of his huge ratings.
Their tolerance for his substance abuse began to wane in the later years of his career, though, as radio personalities like Howard Stern took away from Imus’ audience and made him far less relevant.
In 2007, Imus used a racial slur in reference to the Rutgers University Women’s basketball team, igniting a major national backlash. These types of comments were typical of Imus, right up until his retirement in 2018.
While we all knew Imus to be shocking on-air, his family says he was different once the microphone was turned off.
According to the statement from his family after his death, Imus was a devoted family man who worshipped his children.
Imus also ran the Imus Ranch program to help kids with leukemia. Don Imus is survived by his wife and six children.