A deal was in the works to dump the ex-Van Halen singer’s ratings-deprived program with shock jocks Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia, according to two people with knowledge of the deal. They spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement of the agreement next week.
Opie and Anthony were banished from terrestrial radio in 2002 oddly enough by their new boss, CBS Radio after airing a live account of listeners having sex in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. CBS Radio was then known as Infinity Broadcasting.
Opie and Anthony resurfaced on XM in October 2004. The satellite radio provider has more than 6.5 million subscribers, with the Opie and Anthony show one of the most popular programs on its 170 channels.
XM will now syndicate the program to the stations in New York and six other markets, with three hours of the program airing on the CBS Radio stations, the people familiar with the deal said. XM will simultaneously broadcast that portion of the show, along with another two hours of exclusive O&A, they said.
A spokeswoman at CBS Radio declined to comment on the report, as did a spokesman for XM.
Roth’s radio career began in January, when he replaced Howard Stern on the CBS stations. But reviews were poor and Roth fought with management over the show’s format, putting the show on the skids less than four months into its run.
Roth, during one angry on-air rant, predicted the show could be yanked before May.
The move marks a shift in the dynamic between terrestrial and satellite radio. In the past, satellite raided terrestrial radio for big-name hosts such as Opie and Anthony or Stern. Now, the seven FM stations will rely on a syndicated satellite program.
In addition to the Free-FM station in New York, Opie and Anthony will reportedly air on WBCN-FM in Boston, WYSP-FM in Philadelphia, WRKZ-FM in Pittsburgh, WNCX-FM in Cleveland, WPBZ-FM in West Palm Beach, Fla., and KLLI-FM in Dallas.
Stern, who engaged in a lengthy on-air feud with Opie and Anthony, is in his first year of broadcasting for Sirius Satellite Radio. O&A will now fill in his old time slot.