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Shock jock Imus wows local crowd at Maryland Theatre

April 23, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Whether his target was the Venice Inn, the crowd or himself, radio shock jock Don Imus inspired enthusiastic laughter and applause from his Hagerstown audience on Friday.

"It was great. I've been a listener of 'Imus in the Morning' for a while and I thought this was a great opportunity to see him live," said Paul Fitzgerald, one of about 1,000 people who came to the Maryland Theatre to watch the four-hour program.

Fitzgerald, 37, of Frederick, Md., said he was curious about Imus' various sidekicks.

"I wanted to put a face to all the other characters," he said. "I'll have a different perspective of it when I listen to the radio."

Imus, who normally broadcasts his syndicated morning radio show from New York, made his second trip to the Maryland Theatre on Friday.

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The I-Man also did a show from Hagerstown during a battle re-enactment for the 135th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam.

Keeping in style, Imus took verbal jabs at himself and his audience - sometimes at the same time.

"You've been about as good an audience as this has been a program," he said.

Waynesboro, Pa., resident Bob Helfrick, 35, seemed to enjoy every minute of it.

"I think he did that pretty good last time, too," he said.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. and Councilman Kevin Chambers said they both enjoyed a sketch about the late Gen. George Patton the best.

Chambers, who works at JLG, said he listens every morning.

"I've got an hour's commute one way, so I don't have any choice," he said.

Martinsburg, W.Va., resident George Crabill, 58, said he used to listen to Imus at the General Motors plant in Martinsburg. That's where he was the last time Imus came to Hagerstown.

This time, Crabill got a chance to see him in the flesh.

"Now I'm retired. I can do it," he said.

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II, the target of several Imus broadsides two years ago, got a chance to briefly share the stage with him this time. Two years ago, he had to shout responses from the audience.

Bruchey said the Imus show is good P.R. for the city.

"I think it's a feather in our cap," said Bruchey, who gave Imus a bag of fruit from Harry's 'Round the Square. "I think that it shows we're not below his standards to come. He told me he loves this theater."

Did the mayor get an invitation to appear on stage this time?

"I intruded on him, actually," he said. "After all, it's my town."

Frederick, Md., resident Mary Kramer, 41, was one of many people who got free tickets to the show from Oldies 106.9 FM WARK, which broadcasts the show locally. She said she enjoys the pieces by sidekick Rob Bartlett, who will perform at the theater tonight.

And of course, there's the I-Man himself.

"He does telephone interviews with fascinating people, and his disrespect is amusing," Kramer said.

For Hagerstown resident Becky Daugherty, the program was her second taste of Imus at the Maryland Theatre. She said he seemed in a better mood this year.

Daugherty, 58, said she is a devoted Imus fan.

She contributed $1,000 to the Imus ranch in New Mexico for juvenile cancer victims and their families. The gift got her a certificate, which she had framed and hoped to have Imus sign after the show.

"His shows have a certain recipe to them. It's a format that works," she said. "I think Imus says a lot of things people would like to say, but maybe can't quite."

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