Opie and Anthony's not-so-dirty little secret

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein
    Opie and Anthony's
    not-so-dirty little secret
    Thursday, January 26th, 2006

    As two of the first radio hosts who took their bad-boy reputations to the unregulated world of satellite, Opie and Anthony can talk dirty all they want.

    But after a year at XM, they'll tell you many of the best days are the days when they don't.

    "You know what's a good show?" said Opie (Gregg Hughes). "When we leave saying, yeah, those were funny bits off the news, that was really clever.

    "We just want to be entertaining. Almost all of what we do could be on regular radio or anywhere, but the 'shock jock' stuff is how we got attention, so that's what still gets picked up on."

    O&A became poster boys for shock jockery in August 2002, when they broadcast a report that two of their WNEW listeners were having sex in a vestible at St. Patrick's. The ensuing howl of outrage got Opie and Anthony kicked off over-the-air radio for good, though their bosses paid them for two more years rather than risk seeing them hired by a competitor.

    Their XM show still has a naughty-boy element. This week, they brought their old friend Stalker Patty into the studio and had her crawl around the floor, naked and blindfolded, to find two $1,000 checks.

    The floor was also covered with mousetraps. When Patty caught a finger in one of them and yelped, Anthony (Cumia) said, "If you were a mouse, you'd be dead! Keep crawling!"

    "That stuff is part of the package," said Anthony after the show. "To be honest, it's a breeze. With those bits, the show runs itself.

    "But if that was all we did, it would be boring. What we give people is interesting adult conversation - not necessarily about sex, just the things adults talk about, around the kitchen table or at a bar."

    Much of that same show was about popular culture, news items and relationships, which included Anthony again revisiting his own nasty divorce.

    "At first it was painful to talk about," said Anthony. "But eventually you see dark humor in it. And that's what the show is about, anyway - being open.

    "There are lines we don't cross. Like this horrific child murder. We wouldn't goof on that. But there are things about it we can discuss."

    "Like the picture in the paper of the girl's casket," said Opie. "That crossed a line for me."

    Looking back on their path to XM, Opie said he still thinks WNEW's hot-talk format of 2001-2002 was "just one show away from working."

    What he really doesn't understand, he said, is why Infinity didn't create one station with Howard Stern in the morning and O&A in the afternoon.

    "Sure, we didn't get along with Howard, but so what?" Opie said. "That was so logical."

    "And now," said Anthony, "they're trying a 'male talk' station after we and Howard are both gone. Amazing."

    "They also should have put us on the air after St. Patrick's," said Opie. "Yeah, they'd get some heat. Take it. Can you imagine the ratings? I just don't understand corporate thinking."

    They say Stern's move to rival Sirius should help both satellite companies, though Opie doesn't think Stern is the factor he once was.

    "I think he's lost his passion to do it," said Opie. "At some point it's also going to affect him that he's got maybe 10% of his old audience. If he's lucky.

    "And he's got pressure that we don't. If we fail, XM goes on. If he fails, Sirius goes with him."

    For themselves, they say, they're happy that their audience is growing and they don't have to deal with either the pressure of quarterly Arbitron ratings or constant commercial interruptions.

    "You'd get into a subject, and after a break you never really got it back," said Opie. "Here, we just keep going. In more than 20 years, this is the most fun I've had on the radio."

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