Radio host Don Imus dies at 79

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Gray News/AP) - Controversial radio host Don Imus died Friday at the age of 79, according to a statement from his family.

A cause of death was not immediately given.

“Deirdre, his wife of 25 years, and his son Wyatt, 21, were at his side, and his son Lt Zachary Don Cates is returning from military service overseas,” the family said.

Imus is also survived by his daughters Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth and Toni.

“Don loved and adored Deirdre, who unconditionally loved him back, loved spending his time watching Wyatt become a highly-skilled, champion rodeo rider and calf roper, and loved and supported Zachary, who first met the Imus family at age 10 when he participated in the Imus Ranch program for kids with cancer, having battled and overcome leukemia, eventually becoming a member of the Imus family and Don and Deirdre’s second son.”

His show, “Imus in the Morning,” aired for nearly 50 years, from June 1, 1968, until March 29, 2018.

Imus survived drug and alcohol woes, a raunchy appearance before President Clinton and several firings during his long career behind the microphone. But he was vilified and eventually fired after describing the mostly African American Rutgers University women’s college basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.”

Mike Francesca, the host of “Mike and the Mad Dog,” tweeted, “Shocking news on the passing of my friend, Don Imus. He will long be remembered as one of the true giants in the history of radio. My thoughts and prayers to Deirdre and Wyatt. God speed.”

Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” said on Twitter that the program “obviously owes its format to Don Imus. No one else could have gotten away with that much talk on cable news.”

Copyright 2019 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.