N.J. Hospital Signs On for Imus

NEW YORK It’s unclear how many sponsors the new Don Imus morning radio show will have when it debuts Dec. 3 on Citadel Broadcasting’s WABC in New York. But one advertiser, Hackensack University Medical Center, has made a preemptive bid to be the first sponsor on the program, confirmed Jerry Della Femina, CEO of the client’s agency, Della Femina Rothschild Jeary and Partners.

Della Femina, who declined to say how much the client paid to be first, believes the audience for the early part of the program on day one will be huge because it will combine Imus’ regular fan base with those that are curious to hear what he has to say on the air for the first time since being axed by CBS-owned WFAN radio for comments he made in April about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. “They’re assured of a very big audience,” he said of his client.

The show starts at 6 a.m., and while the exact time of the first commercial break is not set in stone, Della Femina said he’s been told by station officials to expect it around 6:18 a.m. The client is deciding whether to go with a 60-second spot or a “live read” by Imus. The spot would feature the medical center’s president, John Ferguson, making a sort of “welcome back” statement on behalf of the center to Imus.

If the client opts for the live read, the agency would prepare about 20-seconds of copy for Imus to use as a guide for a message the center wants to get across. In most cases Imus does a spontaneous riff about a sponsor’s product or service.

Imus and the medical center have a long-standing relationship that includes an annual radio-thon that has raised millions of dollars over the years for the center’s efforts to combat cancer in children.

Steve Borneman, general manager of WABC, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Separately, a second advertiser, West Palm Beach, Fla.-based drug rehabilitation facility Hanley Center, has also confirmed it will air a campaign throughout the first week of the new Imus show, which in addition to WABC, will also air on Citadel Boston outlet, WTKK. The campaign is called “Second Chances,” and as part of it, Imus will do will do a live read about the center, where he was treated in 1988. Other spots, created by Hanley ad agency, Woburn, Mass.-based Psynchronous Communications, will point to Imus as an example of how the center’s program can help the addicted.

“The idea of ‘Second Chances’ is an important one that we’ll no doubt hear more of during Don Imus’ return,” notes Psynchronous Founding Partner, Kevin Zundl. “We had a unique opportunity to show his strength of character through his 20 clean and sober years after getting help at Hanley Center. It is an important story to tell in inspiring others towards recovery and we are grateful to Imus for lending himself to this campaign.”