No surprise: David Lee Roth's run as morning radio host is about done.
Big surprise: It appears raunchy satellite radio stars Opie and Anthony will replace him on seven CBS Radio stations, including WBCN in Boston.
A deal was in the works to dump the ex-Van Halen singer's ratings-deprived program and replace him with shock jocks Greg ''Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia, according to two people with knowledge of the deal. They spoke yesterday 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 supposedly 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. Representatives at CBS Radio and XM declined to comment.
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.
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.
If Opie and Anthony are given the slot, it will mark their return to Boston radio, where the jocks sparked no little controversy. The two were fired from Boston station WAAF-FM (107.3) in 1998 after an April Fool's prank in which they told listeners Mayor Tom Menino had died. They then joined New York's WNEW, where they won top ratings among male listeners until the St. Patrick's Cathedral stunt.
Kevin Casey, managing editor of the Springfield-based industry trade magazine Talkers, said the O&A for Roth swap could be a win.
''It's no secret that David Lee Roth has not only not been performing well but that there's been some tension between him and CBS management. Opie and Anthony have worked well in New York. It would be a good move for CBS," said Casey.
''If CBS pulls this one off, it might make up for all the bonehead decisions they've been making, including leaving Howard [Stern] on to trash them and promote Sirius for half a year," said Charles Laquidara, who was at WBCN from 1972 to 1996 and is now heard on WBOS-FM (92.9).
Stern, who engaged in a lengthy on-air feud with Opie and Anthony, is in his first year of broadcasting for
Globe correspondent Clea Simon contributed to this report.