News reports are suggesting that a deal is being finalized for XM Satellite Radio's Opie & Anthony and the show's third star, Jim Norton, to replace David Lee Roth on CBS Radio's Free-FM outlets, possibly within the next two weeks. A deal is supposedly being worked out by CBS's Joel Hollander and XM's Hugh Panero that would bring O&A to WFNY/New York, WYSP/Philadelphia and WBCN/Boston. All three markets are former O&A outlets. Roth was still on the air this morning.
Other Roth outlets include KLLI/Dallas, WNCX/Cleveland, WRKZ/Pittsburgh and WPBZ/West Palm Beach. It is unclear if O&A would appear in those markets.
O&A skirted the subject at the start of their program today and would not directly address the rumor, other than mocking Howard Stern's coverage of the news on his Sirius program earlier this morning.
The move by CBS Radio will surely annoy Stern, especially since The Wall Street Journal is reporting O&A "would promote XM on air to CBS's listeners." Stern is admittedly not a fan of Opie & Anthony and recently came clean regarding the long-rumored gag order he had Mel Karmazin place on the duo when both parties were employed by Infinity Broadcasting. Also, since arriving at Sirius Satellite Radio, Stern has stepped up his attack and on-air disparagement of the XM personalities compared to his days on terrestrial radio when he barely mentioned them and treated them as more of an after-thought.
O&A will continue to be heard on XM's High Voltage channel 202 from 7am - 11am, with a cleaned up version airing on CBS Radio. The duo's XM show, while sometimes crossing into FCC objectionable material, has generally been clean for terrestrial radio's airwaves, barring some curse words that will need to be edited out of the program.
Earlier this year, O&A held a "Super Ball" contest with three male contestants going through different forms of genital torture, including an "ultimate challenge" where a contraption filled with bees and wasps was connected to the contestants' scrotum. While one radio station recently copied the contest, this type of material might not fly in the new FCC-driven world of clean content on the nation's airwaves. O&A were last on terrestrial radio in a fulltime capacity before the Janet Jackson breast-baring incident.
A CBS Radio spokesperson declined to comment on the rumored move. A call to XM for comment has gone unreturned, as has correspondence sent to the Opie & Anthony show.
This may seem like a quick fix for CBS Radio, but will this re-ignite the Roman Catholic League candle of outrage and make this marriage more trouble than it's worth? Also, with already diminished ratings and less commercials than during the Howard Stern days, will Free-FM be one boycott away from an even worse position than it was with Roth?