The Day That Imus Came To Bangor
There we were, watching the I-Man walk towards us as he and his clan got off the private jet at BIA. He met us with a smile, a handshake, and a few choice words, and then bitched during the broadcast the next day that he hadn't met anyone from the radio station.
It was the fall of 1997 that the then Magic 95.7 brought its syndicated morning show host and his team from New York to the Bangor Civic Center for a live broadcast that aired on affiliated radio stations nationwide and also on MSNBC television.
The months preceding that day were interesting, to say the least.
During the summer of '97 one of the owners of WWMJ approached the Bangor City council to inquire about putting a huge "Welcome To Bangor Mr. Imus" T-shirt on the city's Paul Bunyan statue to both publicize the upcoming live event and to welcome the I-Man. She was met with a frosty reception.
One of the councilors mentioned how at one point in the past a Shriner's fez hat was placed atop the statue to welcome that group to Bangor. Following that, the late Pat Blanchette, who was also mayor at the time, said that Imus was "hardly the Shriners", that he was "rude, crude and very offensive," and that if she wanted to listen to x-rated talk, she'd rent a video.
It didn't take Imus long to pick up on that, and very soon an on-air barrage was unleashed upon both Bangor and its mayor. Imus reminded us of how much money he had raised for various causes, hospitals, and children in need. He called Blanchette a "frigid hag," among other things. He also said that when eventually arriving in Bangor that he would "riddle the Paul Bunyan statue with bullets."
That didn't happen.
The tickets for his appearance sold out within an hour. The mayor attended. The police department gave him an award.
I remember escorting Ms. Blanchette towards the stage during one break in the action that morning, only to see Imus' producer, Bernard McGuirk, violently shake his head back and forth "no." The mayor and I sat beside the stage for another half-hour or so, and then she was finally invited onstage.
The place went wild and the walls shook as Ms. Blanchette made her way up onto the stage, and as she was sitting down Imus stood up, stuck a thumb in each ear, and then stuck his tongue out at her like any young schoolboy would.
She graciously welcomed him to Bangor, and he was very nice to her. It turned into a big and very funny love fest that was seen and heard nationwide.
Imus and his cast of characters would come back to Bangor the following year to do it all over again, but it wasn't the same. There was no controversy to feed off of.
People continued to ask if everything that happened back in 1997 was made up and planned as some sort of charade, and if we ever really had ever wanted to put an Imus T-shirt on Paul Bunyan at all.
Yes, it all just happened. You can't make this stuff up.
Imus died December 27, 2019. He was a radio legend. RIP Imus.