On the morning of Monday, Dec. 3, Clarence Page, The Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist, rolled over in bed in suburban Washington, D.C., and looked at his Bose stereo clock radio.
A thought pierced the groggy haze: It was Don Imus’ first day back on the air. Mr. Page, who once got Mr. Imus to join him in an on-air pledge to, among other things, “cease all simian references to black athletes,” and who later in the day would comment to NPR on Mr. Imus’ return, was eager to tune in. Looking for the show, he hit the scan button—again, and again, and again.
For the time being, Mr. Imus’ new show, whose appeal is based in some part on his unscripted interviews of Washington insiders, is not available to radio listeners in the D.C. area.
To date, WABC officials have said publicly that Mr. Imus’ show is airing in more than a dozen cities, but they have remained vague about the specifics.
Prior to his forced sabbatical, Mr. Imus could be heard in the greater D.C. area on WTNT—a talk radio station, owned by Clear Channel, that features syndicated shows with popular conservative hosts like Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage.
Contacted by The Observer on Tuesday morning, Bill Hess, the operations manager for WTNT, said that he was currently in negotiations with the ABC Radio Networks on an Imus syndication deal, but that nothing was final. “We don’t have a deal yet,” said Mr. Hess. “Whether we can get one, I don’t know. We’re just seeing if we can work out the appropriate business details.” He declined to say what might be holding up the deal.
According to Mr. Hess, prior to the forced sabbatical, Mr. Imus’ program was the top-rated show on WTNT. “The program has a history of being successful on our station,” said Mr. Hess. “I see no reason why it wouldn’t be, moving forward.”
Back in Mr. Page’s bedroom, he eventually resigned himself to the usual slate of choices—NPR, Pacifica, Air America and C-SPAN radio.
“I settled for NPR,” said Mr. Page.
Follow Felix Gillette via RSS.