CBS cancels the Imus radio show effective immediately

By Steve Safran 

CBS has announced it is canceling Don Imus’s “Imus in the Morning” radio show immediately, over the comments he made about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson had met with CBS Corp. Chairman Les Moonves to ask for Imus’s firing. This comes after MSNBC pulled the simulcast of his show off their air, and after advertisers had pulled their spots from his show. From the AP:

Losing Imus will be a financial hit to CBS Radio, which also suffered when Howard Stern departed for satellite radio. The program earns about $15 million in annual revenue for CBS… In a memo to staff members, Moonves said the firing “is about a lot more than Imus.”

“He has flourished in a culture that permits a certain level of objectionable expression that hurts and demeans a wide range of people,” Moonves said. “In taking him off the air, I believe we take an important and necessary step not just in solving a unique problem, but in changing that culture, which extends far beyond the walls of our company.”

On Thursday, Imus’s annual Radiothon raised $1 million for charity. It was scheduled to be a two-day fundraiser, but it turned out to be his last show. Meantime, the speculation is already beginning about whether satellite radio will offer Imus a home.

NOTE: I will be on the radio Friday morning in Richmond, VA, discussing the Imus story. I’ll be on Newsradio 1140 AM WRVA with Jimmy Barrett at 7:05am ET. You can listen live online. What I will add to this story, I have no idea. UPDATE: Finished interview. Jimmy was great, as always. I sounded like another silly media analyst, as I predicted.