By Dick Platt
Corsicana Daily Sun
To say that I am a long-time fan of Don Imus is a gross understatement. In fact, I specifically upgraded my Xfinity cable service to “Digital Preferred” just so I can receive his program in the morning which is simulcasted on the FOX Business News. It came as quite a surprise to The Little Woman (not her favorite name) and me when “The I-Man” signed off Friday morning by saying he was on the way to Corsicana, Texas!
TLW and I looked at each other immediately and we both said, “Did you hear what he just said?” Wondering what could bring the great one to our humble home town of 12 years caused me to jump on Mr. Computer and go to the Corsicana Daily Sun’s home page to see what the attraction might be. Sure enough, there was a blurb about the Hat Brand Rodeo Series taking place at the Navarro County Exposition Center on Saturday. Don’s young son, Wyatt, is doing quite well on the junior calf-roping circuit and I suspect that he is entered in that event.
In the event that some of you may be among the unwashed masses who do not know who he is, here are a few facts about one John Donald “Don” Imus Jr. He is a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame, he has won four Marconi Awards; and was named one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential People in America” (April 21, 1997). He is a radio host, humorist, landscape photographer, philanthropist, and writer.
He has had a long, and checkered past in broadcasting and he definitely has some hard road miles on his body. He battled through some legendary alcohol and cocaine abuse in the 1970’s and 80’s but he has been sober for the last 26 years. The hard road miles are evidenced by his appearance: a skinny, wizened old cowboy in denims and a huge cowboy hat, with a turkey neck, and a mop of hair that looks like he combed it with an eggbeater.
Don’s weekday morning radio show, “Imus in the Morning,” has been simulcasted over the years by networks like MSNBC and RFD-TV and he is now on FOXBN from 6 to 9 a.m. Eastern time. He has surrounded himself with some very talented personalities to provide news, sports, comedy, and stimulating conversations and interviews. His guests range from politicians to musicians, to athletes, to authors, to movie and TV stars.
He has a long, and well-deserved reputation for irreverent and controversial programming. His humor and comments have been known to “go over the line” in some areas and he has, therefore, been fired several times over his long career in broadcasting. The most notable of his firings came as a result of the controversy he and his henchman, executive producer Bernard McGuirk, caused by trading ill-conceived remarks about the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball players. As a result, the whole “Imus in the Morning” crew was off the air for about nine months.
To his credit, Don Imus has been, and is, involved in many humanitarian projects. He is a regular at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where visits the wounded warriors and advocates better living conditions for them. He was instrumental in raising over $60 million for the Center for the Intrepid, a Texas rehab facility for wounded soldiers. He, and his wife, Deirdre, are staunch supporters of autism research.
His crowning grace is that he and his wife founded the Imus Ranch, a working 4,000-acre ranch near Ribera, New Mexico. Every year, from Memorial Day until Labor Day, the Imus family hosts children with cancer and siblings of SIDS victims. The kids rotate in every few weeks from all over the country and all expenses are covered by the Imus Ranch Foundation. All the buildings on the ranch are replicas of buildings one would find in an old western town and the kids are taught skills like riding, roping, and tending stock. While there, Imus continues his daily broadcasts from a studio he built on the ranch while the rest of his posse broadcasts from New York.
Oh, by the way, the “I-Man” has managed to do all right for himself over the years. In addition to the ranch in New Mexico, he has a large apartment in Manhattan and a $13.5 million waterfront mansion in Westport, Conn. You can bet that, if he did fly down to Corsicana, it was on a chartered private jet that he probably had to park up at Dallas. We’ll be sure to check him out tomorrow (this being Sunday) to see if he has any good words about how Wyatt fared and his impressions of the rodeo, the town and the people.
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org