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PLAY Imus Trick Phrase WNBC 1987 (02:38)

. . . Kenneth, what's the frequency? . . .

Here's something from Imus in the Morning on WNBC, New York, in the Spring of 1987. Trick Phrase Give-away Days is a bit about Dan Rather's mugging.

To refresh your memory on the Dan Rather incident, we've included a 1997 news article about the "What is the frequency?" mugging.

Rather identifies mysterious 1986 attacker from news photos

(Copyright, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 1997)

NEW YORK (AP) - The mystery may be solved: Dan Rather has identified the man he says beat him up on the street in 1986 while demanding to know "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"

The CBS anchorman said his assailant was William Tager, now in prison for killing an NBC stagehand outside the "Today" show in 1994.

Tager was convinced the media had him under surveillance and were beaming hostile messages to him, and he demanded that Rather tell him the frequency being used, according to a forensic psychiatrist who examined Tager after the NBC shooting.

Rather was told by the psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, that Tager was almost certainly his attacker. The anchorman identified Tager from pictures supplied by the New York Daily News. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is the person," Rather said in Wednesday's News.

Rather was confronted about 11 p.m. while walking on Park Avenue. When he tried to walk away, he was punched from behind and knocked to the ground. The attacker then chased Rather into a building and kicked him several times in the back.

At the time, it was thought Rather might have been a victim of mistaken identity. But Dietz told the newspaper that Tager admitted attacking Rather after running into the newsman by chance and recognizing him.

Tager was in New York City at the time because he mistakenly thought he had an appointment with a female television personality to talk about ending the hostile messages, and had just been stood up when he saw Rather.

"It was a chance encounter with someone from a target victim class," Dietz said. In fact, Tager told the psychiatrist he had considered doing more harm to Rather but had decided against it.

Tager, 49, of Charlotte, N.C., later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the slaying of stagehand Campbell Montgomery and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Tager was trying to take an assault rifle into the street-level "Today" studio at Rockefeller Center and opened fire when Montgomery pointed him out to police.

The district attorney's office said charges won't be filed in the Rather attack because the statute of limitations has run out. Tager's lawyer, John Esposito, told the News there are still questions as to whether Tager was involved.

CBS spokeswoman Kim Akhtar said Rather didn't want to talk further about the incident.

Certainly it wasn't a career highlight for Rather, who has anchored the "CBS Evening News" since replacing Walter Cronkite in 1981.

Dietz said he believes Tager never called Rather "Kenneth," and Rather has said he's not certain that was the word he heard.

+ + + Copyright Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 1997 + + +

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