With not much to say about the Baltimore Orioles here during the holiday season, I wanted to take a moment to remember the late Don Imus, who passed away yesterday. Imus was a radio pioneer, who while controversial was also one of the most philanthropic people on earth. We know his faults, specifically the remark about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team years ago. But does that outweigh his merits? I don’t think so, and I hope not.
Imus has the interesting distinction of having the vast majority of his career on the same frequency in New York: 660-AM. However it was for two vastly different stations. 660 was home to the legendary WNBC forever and ever, also home to names such as Howard Stern, Soupy Sales, Alan Colmes, and “Cousin Brucie.” However in 1988 660-AM became WFAN radio, the nation’s first true sports station. Imus traveled with the frequency, and continued his program.
I listened to Don Imus on WTEM out of Washington DC (now an Orioles’ radio affiliate) for years. I was a fan. I also respected his career, especially his Imus Ranch for kids with cancer. Did he have faults? For sure. But Don Imus also gave back to society.
To tie this to baseball a bit, as I said Imus worked for the first sports station in America (which existed on another frequency previously). Obviously that was out of NY. Yet Imus wasn’t a Yankee fan if you followed him. He followed the Yankees because they were relevant to his job and the city in which he lived. But he wasn’t someone who took to rooting for the New York Yankees. For anyone other than Don Imus, that could be a death sentence in a market such as NYC!
Don Imus was a radio pioneer, and someone who made a huge impact on the radio industry over a long period of time. He was a true American original. His brother, Fred, was a frequent caller to the show. Fred passed away in 2011; I remember Don being devastated, and quite frankly he was never the same. So when I heard of Don Imus’ passing last night, I immediately thought to myself how happy I was for him that he was with his brother again. May Don Imus Rest In Peace.