Hi, I'm Steve from Manhattan, and I'm in my 23rd hour of listening to WFAN, 66 AM on the dial, New York's all-sports, all-day, all-night radio station. Now, in the wee hours of Saturday, Sept. 1, I'm listening to talk-show host Jody McDonald complain about his hay fever. It's 4 a.m. Do I know where my brain is?
No, but I do know where my finger is, and it's punching the buttons for 1-718-937-6666. Busy. What should we talk about, Jody and I? Should the Mets give Darryl Strawberry the big bucks he wants? Busy. Are tennis players big babies, or what? Busy. Listen, Jody, I really like your show, and I'm sorry about your hay fever. Busy....
My broadcast day began at 5:30 Friday morning. Shortly after Charles McCord read the news, an unmistakable voice came on the air and said, "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. So glad you're mine...."
Another voice said, "Wait a minute, this is a sports show."
"Really? Well, then, Hello, I'm Jennifer Cappellini...."
It was time for the infamous Imus in the Morning, quack, quack, a sometimes hilarious, often tasteless mixture of satire, misogyny, car commercials, interviews, homophobia and, last but least, sports. Don Imus, a fixture on WNBC for years, was coopted by WFAN when it took over WNBC's signal two years ago, and his program remains one of the highest rated morning drive-time shows in New York.
The U.S. Open was in town, and the first tennis player to get it that morning was Jennifer Capriati. "She'll be having Prince's baby in another year or two," said Imus. Capriati got off easy. Steffi Graf could be very attractive, Imus said, "if she had that beak of hers fixed.... She could break into the coin box of a phone booth with that thing." Most of the venom was reserved for Martina Navratilova and her entourage, and Steve from Manhattan can't believe that Imus gets away with his gay-bashing. He's like Andrew Dice Clay, only funny, and thus more dangerous.
Also wounded in the crossfire that morning were New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley, author William Styron, Jet coach Bruce Coslet, the Newark Star-Ledger, Dan and Marilyn Quayle, Ford-ham University, Dan Rather, Jesse Jackson, Chris Evert, Donald Trump and Imus himself. Imus, though, rolled over like a puppy for his two guests, Bud Collins of NBC and Lesley Visser of CBS. Imus's sign-off at 10 a.m. was this pronouncement:
"This concludes the entertainment portion of the WFAN broadcasting day. WFAN now presents the rest of its programming schedule, 86� hours of imbecilic prattle between contemptibly limited provincial program hosts talking on the telephone to a band of 13 equally insignificant housebound agoraphobes with sports obsessions."
The 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. slot on WFAN is usually reserved for Dave Sims and Ed Coleman, but Coleman was on vacation, leaving Sims alone to chat with his guests and callers ("Hi, this is Mike from Bay Ridge..."). Sims and his producer had obviously worked hard, lining up interviews with Lawrence Taylor's agent, Joe Courrege; USA network tennis commentator Diana Nyad; SPORTS ILLUSTRATED college football editor Steve Robinson; New York Jet defensive tackle Marvin Washington; and Howard Walker, publisher of the Satellite Watch Newsletter. In case you're wondering about that last guest, the NFL and the networks were talking about scrambling their signals to prevent bar owners from pulling in distant games...oh, never mind.