Radio host Don Imus dies at 79

Posted at 6:30 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 20:52:02-05

Radio host Don Imus has died, his representative confirmed to CBS News.

Imus was 79 years old.

FILE – In this May 29, 2015, file photo, cable television and radio personality Don Imus appears on his last “Imus in the Morning” program, on the Fox Business Network, in New York. The sprawling cattle ranch in northern New Mexico owned by Imus is for sale, The Santa Fe New Mexico reports. The 2,400-acre ranch near the small community of Ribera, N.M., about 45 miles east of Santa Fe, has been used to benefit children afflicted by cancer. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

According to a statement, the controversial radio personality died Friday morning at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, after having been hospitalized since Christmas Eve.

Longtime friend and fellow radio host Mike Francesca called Imus “one of the true giants in the history of radio.”

Imus, a member of the National Broadcasting Hall of Fame, spent more than 50 years on the air and was named by Time magazine as one of the most 25 Influential People in America.  The article called him “the national inquisitor” known for his interviews of politicians and other figures.

His career almost came to a halt in April 2007 after he referred to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” Players on the team said they were deeply hurt by the remark and Imus was widely criticized by civil rights and other groups.

After the incident, syndicated CBS radio show was canceled, and MBSNC also canceled his TV show.

In his final interview in 2018, he told CBS “Sunday Morning” that the “Rutgers things I regret,” saying “I knew better.”

Imus retired from his radio show in March 2018. “Don continued to share his candid opinions about elected officials in both parties up until the end,” his family said.

According to CNN, Imus was diagnosed in 2009 with stage 2 prostate cancer and for years, he operated a ranch program for children with cancer.

“[Imus] is not Howard Stern, his rival for morning radio dominance,” Time wrote. “But he was, before Howard was, in the early ’70s — with the gross-out skits, the monologue rambles, even an irreverent book (God’s Other Son, written in the voice of his preacher creature, Billy Sol Hargus).”

He is survived by his wife Deirdre and six children. The family will host a small, private funeral, the statement said.