NEW YORK – Is radio ready to welcome back Don Imus? Maybe, or maybe not. But the man who led the campaign to get the radio personality fired said he wouldn't object if the broadcaster returned to the airwaves.
"He has a right to make a living," the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Sharpton said he hadn't softened his views about Imus, who was dismissed from his syndicated program on WFAN-AM in April for calling the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
Imus was a "repeat offender" who deserved a harsh punishment, Sharpton said. But he added that, under the right conditions, the radio star's banishment could eventually end.
"We had never asked him to never work again," said Sharpton, echoing comments he first made to Radar magazine.
There have been rumors about a possible comeback for the shock jock, who also lost his program on MSNBC.
One Imus confidant, the private eye Bo Dietl, stoked the flames when he hinted recently on an Albany radio program that his friend might make a return to broadcasting as soon as September.
Neither Imus's former employer, CBS radio, nor his attorney, Martin Garbus, were answering questions about his future Wednesday.
A reunion with the CBS-owned WFAN seems improbable. During a breakfast discussion televised on C-SPAN last month, New Yorker reporter Ken Auletta asked CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves whether there was "any chance" he would bring Imus back.
"No," Moonves said.
CBS and Imus are still squabbling over whether the network is obligated to pay the remainder of its former star's multimillion-dollar contract.
Sharpton said he hoped that any broadcast outlet that hired Imus would take steps to ensure that he wouldn't return to a brand of humor that included race- and gender-based insults.