Media Mix IMUS AMONG US: Imus in the Morning is returning to Tucson radio. That's tremendous news, and it brings to mind a true story, as well as a few personal thoughts, if you don't mind.

The other day I was in line at my ABCO buying a jar of pickles and a box of Cheerios. A fellow ankled in behind me wearing an Imus T-shirt bearing the call letters KTUC, the radio station which, until late March, aired the show in question, hosted by that wretched, male hag of a prune-puss in a cowboy hat, Don Imus.

It reminded me how much I miss him, and how much I'd like to throttle the new owners of KTUC for changing the station's format to--for lack of a more tasteless way of saying it--music for the Polident and prolapsed prostate set.

Easy Listening. Jeee-sus.

Someone, please, explain to me what's easy about having to listen to Wayne Newton doing "Dankeschon" before I even get a chance to pee?

See, I used to have my alarm clock set to KTUC, and every morning at six I'd awaken to Imus and his two disgraceful collaborators ranting about one thing or another.

Some mornings I'd hear news-reader and Bible student Charles McCord--a hip Ward Cleaver--describing a weekend with his wife, Connie, at some awful dog show in Connecticut, and Imus would be overcome by the pretentiousness of it all, and, of course, say so.

Because he's the only man in America without an unspoken thought. That's the first secret of his success, by the way. Honesty sells. Hang on, the second secret is coming up here in a Marlboro moment.

Another morning it'd be Imus going on about some book he loved--such as the one that finally and forever proved that Alger Hiss was a liar and a spy, and Whittaker Chambers a truth-teller--and Ward, er, Charles, sick to death of it all, launching into a wide-open-mouthed screaming fit, begging his boss to close his pie hole on the subject once and for all.

Or maybe I'd hear the stiletto sentences of that bald-headed stooge Bernard McGuirk, a genius at one-liners, a kind of Henny Youngman without the violin, suit, smile, personality, easy jokes, or the blood in his veins.

Bernie wasn't born, he was assembled--from a kit that tells you how to put together an East Coast barstool Irishman. He's all fangs. After he riffs on New York Cardinal John O'Connor talking about Jews, or the phoniness of Hillary Milhaus Clinton and the Sexual-Predator-in-Chief, I feel like going in for rabies shots.

It also makes me feel like I'm home again, back at the dinner table with my hideous brothers.

Some mornings these three louts were laughing so hard at one another you could almost hear the snot bouncing off their mikes.

If this sounds a bit disgusting, without redeeming social value, harmful to civic mores--or to use that currently fashionable catch-all, "mean-spirited"--get over it. Laughing is better than developing colon clamp.

You won't find a treatment for this national epidemic in any doctor's office. But you might on the radio, and this is the second secret to Imus' popularity:

His appalling honesty makes us feel more comfortable with ourselves and the foul, filthy and absolutely unacceptable thoughts every one of us have every day about other races, including the protected ones, about women and men and their parts, dangling or otherwise, about cardinals and rabbis, about politicians, pants-droppers, gerbel-hiders, movie stars, athletes and other respectable maniacs.

Some can admit having such thoughts, and heaven bless them. They're the salt of the earth. But we've bred a passle of pretenders who act as if they don't have them, never did. They feign disgust at Bernie and Don, not because they feel it, but because they think they should feel it.

If it wasn't for their censorious outrage, Imus wouldn't be one of the hottest radio properties in the country. He makes it okay for the rest of us to have a good time in the morning, and to laugh.

Anyway, back to the fellow in line.

I spotted his T-shirt and wheeled around, figuring I'm an instant friend. I said, "Do you miss the I-Man? Boy, I sure do. Wasn't he the bishop's knickers? Dammit to hell, why does life have to be so cruel?!"

The poor man was too frightened to listen. He stepped back and sputtered, "Ah, well, no. I wasn't a f-f-f-fan."

Aha, a T-shirt liar! He measured the hostility in my eyes. As a woman came to his side with a bottle of Diet Coke, he saw the extreme danger he was in and recovered quickly.

"But my wife here, she's a big fan," he said. "She got me the shirt. Yes-siree."

Then he nervously shouldered her into my vision, and she and I had a nice chat about our long exile in radio Siberia.

"But that's changing soon," I said. "Imus is coming back to town."

A pall fell over the 10-item, cash-only line. Every knuckle-walker in the building turned to listen. It's true. New station owner Tom Hassey, the local boy who sold KTUC to the Easy Listening Gangsters in the first place, hopes to return Imus to the air waves by the end of September on KBUZ-AM, 1030.

"Hassey?" says my female ABCO-friend. "You mean boner nose?"

That's what the Imus crew called Hassey. On the air. Can you believe it? Somebody should put a stop to those guys. -- By Leo Banks TW

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