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Autor: anton 18 July 2011
Words: 666 | Pages: 3
Les Moonves is known to be highly committed to the success of CBS and equally concerned about his own image. Moonves fired Imus, his critics say, not out of any sense of social justice but only after it became clear that Imus was becoming a liability to the network and a personal embarrassment to Moonves (MoonvesÐ²Ð‚â„¢s detractors note that he only cut Imus loose after seeing his rival Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Universal, release Imus from his MSNBC simulcast). Firing Imus was supposed to be an unqualified win for Moonves and the network. Yes, there would be a short-term revenue hit, but top advertisers were already dropping out, and others were threatening to follow suit. By firing Imus, Moonves could prevent further damage to the network and come out looking like a man of principle.
Only it hasnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t quite worked out that way. After Imus was fired, the ground under Moonves began shifting. WFAN started losing money. A lot of it. Ð²Ð‚ÑšImus used to sell spots for $1,500 that are now going for, like, $200,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ one source says. While in the months before ImusÐ²Ð‚â„¢s firing his ratings werenÐ²Ð‚â„¢t where they used to be, the elite demographics of his audience meant he was still printing money for his bosses. Ð²Ð‚ÑšHe was like a golf tournament toward the end,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ says John Mainelli, a radio-industry consultant who until recently was the program director for a CBS-owned radio station. Ð²Ð‚ÑšHe didnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t have big numbers, but he had so-called Ð²Ð‚?qualityÐ²Ð‚â„¢ numbers, politicians and high-income people.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ
The station tried replacements for months, but none seemed to work. There were conspiracy theories that some of the folks at WFAN who had always disagreed with the decision to can Imus werenÐ²Ð‚â„¢t trying very hard to replace him. Fill-ins like Geraldo Rivera and John McEnroe didnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t generate much by way of excitement or ratings. In July, WFAN celebrated the stationÐ²Ð‚â„¢s twentieth anniversary by running a Ð²Ð‚ÑšBest of ImusÐ²Ð‚Ñœ clip show, during which Mike Francesa, the popular co-host of Ð²Ð‚ÑšMike and the Mad Dog,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ thanked Imus and said twice that he hoped that, come September, they will Ð²Ð‚Ñšbe a complete teamÐ²Ð‚Ñœ again. In a Daily News online poll conducted in late June, 94 percent of respondents supported ImusÐ²Ð‚â„¢s reinstatement.
Perhaps more than anything, it was the lawsuit that changed things. No one at CBS will confirm it had an effect, but after it was filed, network executives began considering the unthinkable: bringing Imus back. Giving Imus his old job wouldnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t just help restore WFANÐ²Ð‚â„¢s morning ratingsÐ²Ð‚â€it would quite possibly cost less than having to go to court with Imus. What if, instead of fighting, CBS renegotiated to take Imus back at, say, half the $40 million? Or even a third? Ð²Ð‚ÑšThey desperately need the revenue,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ says Mainelli. Ð²Ð‚ÑšThis is no secret. Les Moonves has said he loves the cash flow that radio provides, but itÐ²Ð‚â„¢s no secret he thinks there ought to be a lot more of it.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ
What about the protesters? WouldnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t the same tsunami of anti-Imus forces regather? WouldnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t the advertisers boycott? Perhaps. But then Al Sharpton started telling reporters that he, at least, wasnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t necessarily against the idea of ImusÐ²Ð‚â„¢s coming back on the air. Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe demand was he be fired from a job he routinely abused,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Sharpton told me in July. Ð²Ð‚ÑšThere was never a sense that he be removed from making a living.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Where Sharpton goes, advertisers might follow: The door, it seemed, was cracked open.
Imus, his friends say, is burning to get back on the air. He wants to be a part of the conversation again, especially now. Ð²Ð‚ÑšHeÐ²Ð‚â„¢d like to be around for the presidential race,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ says Bob Sherman. He also feels pressure to sustain his charity work and to support Deirdre, who has benefited from ImusÐ²Ð‚â„¢s radio plugs for her line of ecoproducts and her own charitable causes. What a comeback is really all about for Imus, though, is not letting Ð²Ð‚Ñšnappy-headed hosÐ²Ð‚Ñœ be his career epitaph. Ð²Ð‚ÑšHe certainly doesnÐ²Ð‚â„¢t want to end on that note,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ says a friend.
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