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Talk-Radio Hosts Debate the Impact of Imus' Firing

Radio personality Don Imus appears on Rev.Al Sharpton's radio show, in New York Monday April 9, 2007. Imus issued another apology for referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" on his morning show last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Richard Drew
Radio personality Don Imus appears on Rev.Al Sharpton's radio show, in New York Monday April 9, 2007. Imus issued another apology for referring to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" on his morning show last week. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Will the firing of Don Imus have any longer-term impact on the radio industry?

If talk-radio hosts Leo Terrell and Ben Ferguson are an indication, Imus' peers are extremely divided. Terrell and Ferguson joined CNBC's Liz Claman to weigh in on the controversy and its aftermath.

Terrell, a civil-rights attorney, told "Morning Call" viewers that Imus will be gone from the airwaves "permanently" -- thanks to the "green effect" of advertisers like Procter & Gamble and General Motors dropping their sponsorship of his show.

He believes that the corporate reaction to the incident means that Imus' ouster is only the beginning of a new era for radio, as "moral outrage has an economic impact" -- and other broadcasters are closely watching the decisions by MSNBC and CBS Radio to cancel Imus' show.

But Ferguson, who hosts a show on Radio America, scoffed at Terrell's analysis -- and says Imus will be gone for "six to eight months, max."

He likened the scandal to kids who err and "don't mess with mom and dad for a few days" until the heat dies down. Ferguson said that advertisers aren't afraid of other so-called shock jocks like Howard Stern -- they're just temporarily leery of a figured labelled a racist. And he pointed out that CBS also owns MTV and BET, which air racy and potentially offensive music videos and humorous shows "all the time."