Don Imus is making a comeback on radio, but he might have trouble attracting advertisers to his new talk show — and those sponsors who do come won’t pay the premium rates they paid on his previous show.
That’s the view of Adweek’s Steve McClellan, who notes that Imus will face repercussions after he was fired by CBS Radio for, as Adweek puts it, essentially calling the women on the Rutgers University basketball team “whores.”
Imus’ new show debuts on Dec. 3 on Citadel Broadcasting’s radio outlet WABC in New York. But some ad buyers say WABC won’t be able to command prices anywhere near as high as CBS outlet WFAN did before the host was axed, McClellan observes.
“That’s the fallout in all this,” Dennis McGuire, vice president, regional spot director for Aegis Group’s Carat, told Adweek.
“He’s being given another chance, but he’s not going to command the [price] premiums he once did.”
According to McGuire, WFAN formerly charged about $4,000 per rating point, equal to three or four times the going rate for the 25-to-54 demographic in New York.
The Imus show on WFAN chalked up about $11.3 million in ads last year. Without premium pricing, WABC’s take would probably be closer to $3 or $4 million.
So far only one of a half-dozen potential sponsors contacted by Adweek, Hackensack University Medical Center, disclosed that it had definitely decided to advertise on Imus’ show when he debuts.
Sprint, a sponsor of Imus’ old show, pulled out after he uttered his “nappy-headed hos” comment and a spokesperson told Adweek the company would not advertise on the new show.
General Motors has said it will “evaluate” the new program before deciding whether to advertise.
Some potential sponsors are likely to wonder if there will be any retribution against firms that advertise on Imus’ show, Adweek reports.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who called for Imus’ firing last spring, and his National Action Network have hinted that they may press advertisers to boycott the program if Citadel doesn’t demonstrate that it plans to keep Imus in check. Sharpton plans to meet with Citadel soon to discuss the matter.
Another group, the National Association of Black Journalists, has strongly protested Imus’ return to radio.
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