Radio: Suleman in the Morning

The latest Don Imus mess is on Farid.

The CEO of Citadel -- the guy who brought Don Imus back from the dead after he insulted the Rutgers girls basketball team -- should be held accountable for his decision.

Not that Farid Suleman is ever held accountable for his many mistakes running Citadel.

The $1.42 stock price.

The excessive $11 million compensation -- including taxes paid with the good judgment of the Citadel board of directors.

Shoddy executive oversight.

Turns out Suleman's former company, CBS, was right after all.

CBS canned Imus' tired act when he went over the line about a year and a half ago. I'm not going to repeat the insult that made CBS Radio walk away from their profitable WFAN-AM, New York morning show. You know what he said.

Al Sharpton was right.

It doesn't matter whether you think Sharpton himself is over the top -- on the Rutgers girls basketball team controversy he called it right. Imus should be fired.

He was.

Sharpton also said Imus should get a second chance.

He did.

And that he -- Sharpton -- would be keep an eye on Imus.

He is. Sharpton promising yesterday to investigate the latest racial misunderstanding.

Monday the wheels came off again when Don Imus talked on-the-air about the arrest of suspended Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam (Pacman) Jones by asking "What color is he?" Sports announcer Warner Wolf answered that he was "African-American."

Imus responded: "There you go. Now we know."

Imus said in a statement: "I meant that he was being picked on because he's black."

Weak. Very weak.

Another radio personality might have gotten away with it. Rush Limbaugh has been known to go over the line when talking about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Not Imus.

Because Don Imus is now a two-time offender.

Don Imus might have a heart of gold for all we know. After all, when it comes to the kids he helps on his New Mexico ranch through charitable fund raising efforts, we know he has a soft spot in his heart. But on race -- who can know what's in his heart?

It's his words -- and then his explanations. After a while, people get tired of all this.

But while a lot will be made of the latest incident, who among us didn't know Imus would do it again.

It was a time bomb waiting to happen and while Imus may not be able to help himself, his boss, Farid Suleman knows better.

I'm thinking Farid sold his soul to the bottom line again -- something that hasn't been looking good for a long while.

Because Imus is cheap programming.

True, Farid pays millions to employ him but Citadel also doesn't have to employ local personalities on some of its stations -- that's radio hamburger helper. Then Citadel syndicates Imus to other stations to offset the talent and production costs further -- about 45 at last count. After all, if he is anything, Suleman is a bean counter.

In a way, Farid needed Imus more than Imus needed him.

Soon they'll be calling for Imus' head again.

Farid knows that he should be the one who should take the hit which is why it is very likely that nothing will happen to Don Imus.

Until -- the next time.

And there will be a next time.

There is no room in radio for a repeat offender. In the glory days of radio it would have never been tolerated -- especially when we feared the FCC and our employers. My old friend John Rook, the legendary program director who has programmed a talk station or two wouldn't tolerate it for a minute.

In a country where race relations is rearing its ugly head in presidential politics especially underscored by a recent ABC/Washington Post news survey, this stuff just isn't funny. Or useful.

Imus is protected by free speech which enables him to push the boundaries of good taste. No one is arguing our freedoms. Just making a case for good management.

So, the brouhaha brews and the media gets its juicy news story but they are only getting half the story. When it comes to Imus, let's remember that it all comes down to this.

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, fire the man who gave him a second chance.

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