I offended Don Imus.
At least that's what he told me. On the air. In front of thousands, maybe
millions, of listeners. He also told me I offended his listeners.
Then he hung up on me. Yes, he was that offended.
It was an era when Imus' antics were the gold standard for
how-low-can-you-go offensiveness on AM radio, and I'd proved I had even more
bad taste than Imus himself. I couldn't have been prouder.
It was 1973. I'd phoned the studio of the show that unleashed Imus on
weekday mornings. I was a true believer in the show and most especially in the
"Right Rev. Dr. Billy Sol Hargis," Imus' alter ego.
Preaching from the pulpit at the "First Church of the Gooey Death and
Discount House of Worship in Del Rio, Texas," this raving rev promised to send
healing powers to the afflicted via the broadcast waves if you'd only put your
hands on the radio. (This same man also was the official spokesman for "Hebrew
National Airlines, the Wings of Him.")
The morning "service," punctuated with "hallelujahs," always ended with a
gospel chorus, women who raised their voices with this musical offering:
"I don't care if it rains or freezes, 'long as I've got my plastic Jesus,
ridin' on the dashboard of my car. I can go a hundred miles an hour, 'long as
I've got the Almighty Power, glued up there by my pair of fuzzy dice.
"One mo' time - for Him!"
I concluded that listeners were entitled to a more ecumenical experience.
So I phoned the station, offering up another man of the cloth: Rabbi Billy Saul
Matzoh-Ball, religious leader of Temple Beth Bargain in Israel, Ark.
Imus declared it kosher. Within a minute or two, I found myself on the air,
live, nervously croaking the anthem I'd written for the rabbi:
"I don't care if it fogs or snow-ses, long as I've got my plastic Moses,
riding on the dashboard of my car. There's no need to be a'feared, long as the
man with the big white beard is hanging by my pair of fuzzy dice.
"One mo' time - "
He stopped me. "Ma'am," he said. "Chances are you've just offended a great
"I don't care," I told him. "I don't care if I've offended - "
That's when he hung up and moved on to a commercial. Imus had pulled the
plug on me and the good rabbi - all in the name of good taste, a quality he, of
all people, had decided I was lacking.
At the time, I confess, it upset me a little. After all, the satire was a
gentle poke at fictional members of the clergy and harmless, nondenominational
But, more than 30 years later, Imus practiced a different brand of reality
radio. So let him hang up. Let him hang it up altogether. I just don't care
anymore. Not even if it rains or freezes.