Imus takes aim at area but crowd enjoys humor

September 13, 1997


Staff Writer

Some Tri-State area residents attending shock jock Don Imus' radio show at the Maryland Theatre on Friday morning said they appreciated his witty remarks on local events and people.

Imus' satirical style was evident as he took aim at national and local political figures as well as Civil War buffs and NASCAR fans.

Imus even tried to help Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades solve the problem of the overcrowded detention center.

"But, they're having this Civil War re-enactment this weekend right? Why not let 'em out and really shoot 'em?" Imus suggested.


"We certainly couldn't do it," Mades said after the show. But the sheriff said he appreciated Imus' humor.

Later in the show, Imus' brother Fred suggested via phone that the prisoners play for the University of Maryland football team today when the Terps face No. 5-ranked Florida State.

More than 1,300 people attended the airing of the four-hour nationally-syndicated radio show from the historic South Potomac Street theater. The show usually originates from WFAN in New York.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said having the show broadcast from Hagerstown would do wonders for the Hub City.

"Face it, with the I-Man you don't know which way he's going to go," said Bruchey.

Bruchey did get a few gibes from Imus on air, including having his name pronounced "Brushey" repeatedly.

During the show Imus had called Bruchey a former prison guard, but was corrected by Bruchey and Imus' sidekick Charles McCord, who said the proper term was correctional officer.

After the show, Bruchey got Imus' autograph as well as got him to say his name right.

They chatted briefly about Bruchey's narrow win in the mayoral election last May.

Imus was fairly polite to the area. He even complimented the Venice Inn Best Western on Dual Highway where he stayed Thursday night.

"I thought he was respectful. A lot of times he trashes different places and hotels he stays in," said William Gangloff, of Hancock.

"I expected him to bust on Hagerstown more," said Don Harsh III, of Hagerstown. Harsh said his only disappointment was that producer Bernard McGuirk didn't participate more on air.

Stan Wilkes, 33, of Chambersburg, Pa., said Imus was gentler than normal. He also said the show was better than usual, probably because of the audience.

The audience got involved when Imus read a Herald-Mail classified advertisement for a police chief in Smithsburg.

Imus asked Smithsburg residents in the audience if they had a police force.

"Not anymore," someone shouted.

When Imus asked what the chief did to be fired, someone yelled, "his job."

Several audience members said Imus and his crew did a good job preparing for their live show in Hagerstown.

"It's a great thing for the town and good publicity for them. I think they did a little homework before they got here and they treated everything here with great courtesy," said Jim Wilson, who lives in the Downsville area.

Wilson and his wife Dotty listen to all four hours of the show every day, the retired couple said.

Listeners can sneak peaks on how the show is run by watching the simulcast on MSNBC on Antietam Cable Television's Channel 64. The cable channel shows the first three hours of the four-hour show from 6 am. to 9 a.m.

Friday's viewers got a glimpse of the historic Maryland Theatre and got to see Imus' face imposed over that of a Civil War Union soldier.

Imus said he was ambivalent about coming to Hagerstown until he learned about the events commemorating the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Charles Town, W.Va.-resident Francine DeRonda said she was surprised at the frequency of commercial breaks. They aren't as noticeable when listening to the radio, she said.

Imus even took some potshots at the local radio affiliate that airs his show.

Imus said that when he saw Gene Manning, president and general manager of Oldies 106.9 and WARK 1490, at the airport in Martinsburg, W.Va., he thought Manning was a nut.

He played up the FM station while taking shots at its AM counterpart.

Imus' guests included Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's "Face The Nation," Civil War author Shelby Foote and CBS News anchorman Dan Rather. Rather was interviewed via phone from Calcutta, where he is preparing to cover the state funeral of Mother Teresa.

The I-Man's first broadcast from the Tri-State area raised more than $10,000 for the Easter Seals Break-A-Way program, the Maryland Theatre and the United Way, Imus said.

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