Embattled radio jock Don Imus is close to inking a multimillion-dollar deal to return to radio with Citadel Broadcasting, owner of ABC Radio Networks.
Deal, expected to be finalized this week, would put Imus back on the air on New York City’s WABC-AM, the nation’s largest talkradio station, as of Dec. 3.
Imus is seeking a TV element to his radio deal similar to what he had at MSNBC when he was with CBS Radio. That would give him a national platform and, perhaps, the ability to regain some of the high-profile personalities on which he used to depend as guests.
Deal would put Imus in competition with his former employer, CBS Radio, but in a much diminished form. WABC was Imus’ main competition in New York when he was on WFAN-FM, but unless Citadel syndicates the show or he lands a TV deal, Imus becomes a well-paid but local personality with limited national pull.
The big questions going forward are whether the advertising support will be there and the guests will return.
Advertisers were the main driver behind Imus’ ouster from MSNBC and CBS Radio back in April after he made the now infamous disparaging comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
The comments made him radioactive to Madison Avenue, and advertisers including General Motors, American Express, Sprint Nextel, TD Waterhouse, Procter & Gamble and Staples all pulled out in the aftermath.
AM radio has a different pool of regional and smaller advertisers that may be more willing to give Imus a second chance.
Beyond securing a substantial settlement from CBS Radio in August, Imus has kept a low profile since the flap, tending to his charities, such as the Imus Ranch in New Mexico.
But it appears that Imus may be readying a media tour to help rehabilitate his image and prospects. Matt Drudge reported Tuesday that Imus would sit down with ABC’s Barbara Walters for an interview.
ABC Radio Networks’ roster of syndicated radio personalities includes Sean Hannity, Tom Joyner and Dan Patrick.