Howard Stern Admits To Opie & Anthony Gag Order
March 15, 2006

Howard Stern meets the O&A "Pests" while
entering David Letterman's studio.

The feud that started between Howard Stern and Opie & Anthony while both were employed by Infinity Broadcasting is reaching new levels on satellite radio with both parties taking shots at the other. But, while sitting in on Sean Hannity's program yesterday afternoon, Stern finally admitted to the long-rumored gag order that he had Mel Karmazin place on O&A when they were handling afternoon drive at WNEW/New York.

When Stern was asked by a caller about the gag order, he confirmed it by admitting, "That's right. I believe in censoring anyone who is my enemy." He also added, "I believe in censorship when it benefits me."

Playing back that audio on their XM Satellite Radio program this morning, Anthony noted the hypocrisy of that statement by saying, "He's been complaining that individual members of the FCC were putting their morality on his program instead of interpreting FCC law ... which is exactly what he did [with us]."

Earlier in the program, Stern addressed O&A by saying, "When I'm in business with a company and they hire Howard Stern imitators to go on in the afternoon... I don't want anyone knocking me. I have a plan every time I go up against people... I analyze the competition and I think about you six different ways to Sunday. I turned to Mel Karmazin at the time, 'Your two boys that you hired, who sound identical to me, will implode. I give them three to four months. They're so desperate to be famous, they are going to do something stupid. If they can't talk about me, they're gonna go insane. Watch.' He laughed since I made other predictions about radio. And I watched them implode."

While it took three years of WNEW broadcasts for O&A to, as Stern suggested, "implode," the duo has had a successful run at XM and recently revealed they are in negotiations for a new long term deal. But going back to the Stern drama, O&A say they didn't start this feud, and that it was Stern who started calling them copycats and felt threatened by their show.

"When we came into New York City .... we knew you don't come into Howard's backyard and start bashing him," said Anthony. "What we did was slowly build up an audience that happened to be his audience driving home. We had a common audience. He saw that, somehow, as a threat. He saw there was potential for The Opie & Anthony Show to get an audience and perceived it as some kind of threat to him."

"We didn't attack him as a human being," Anthony continued, explaining they would parody Stern. "I would do impressions of him and suggest maybe he wasn't as close to his audience as he once was because he is winging out to the Hamptons in the 'Howie-copter.' Instead of coming back to us on the air and battling us that way, like he had with John DeBella and many other personalities across the country, he went behind the scenes to Mel Karmazin, and had him drag us into his office and threaten us with a firing if we didn't stop talking about [Stern]."

The O&A "Pests"

Hannity, appearing on O&A's program this morning discussing the Stern interview, tried to say Stern deserved credit for not dodging the subject, but O&A immediately cut him off, pointing out that this is the first time in the 5+ years that Stern has admitted to his behind-the-scenes wrangling. They also pointed out that the issue went beyond O&A not mentioning Stern on their program and included guests being blocked from appearing on their show. One CBS Radio insider told FMQB that, at the time, then-K-Rock PD Steve Kingston would block music artists from appearing on O&A's program, a statement verified by a couple anonymous record reps. "There was an admission that they were telling people not to appear on our show," explained Anthony.

Back to current day, O&A and their "Pests" have been wreaking havoc with portions of Stern's Sirius Satellite Radio channels. Recently, Scott Ferrell's test run on Sirius was derailed by O&A's fan base as they inundated and controlled the phone lines making it impossible for Ferrell to get a caller on the air that wasn't a fan of O&A.

O&A have also been pointing out what they call more hypocrisy by Stern for taking off certain Fridays, playing audio of Stern, Robin Quivers and Artie Lange discussing why it is important to be in the studio five days a week. "If you are not there on Fridays, then you are doing a disservice to your audience," says Stern in the audio clip. "If you are going to do this job, then you show up every day and give it your best."  

Meanwhile, despite denials by CBS Radio that have been reported elsewhere, O&A insist they were "absolutely" contacted by the radio company to replace David Lee Roth"We've been negotiating with them for a few weeks," said Opie. "When it was first presented to us, it was a done deal and then you get lawyers going back and forth." O&A also told Hannity that there were "major hurdles" that need to be cleared and they didn't want to "compromise the integrity" of their program to fit terrestrial radio broadcast standards.

"We love being on satellite radio," said Opie. "If it compromises our satellite radio show too much, then we don't want to do it." 

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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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