Despite his boss' assurance that former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth would be given at least a year to work the kinks out of his morning radio show, it appears the end is nigh for the motor-mouthed talker.
On the cusp of next week's release of the winter ratings book — which will offer the first official indication of how the first three months of Roth's tenure as Howard Stern's replacement in seven East Coast and Midwest markets has gone — a source has confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that talks are under way to replace Diamond Dave. What's most shocking is that CBS Radio is reportedly in talks with satellite radio provider XM to license the "Opie & Anthony" show to CBS, just four years after the raunchy duo were canned by CBS' predecessor for an on-air stunt.
You might recall that Opie and Anthony used to do an afternoon show on CBS' predecessor, Infinity Broadcasting, but were booted after airing the infamous tape of a couple allegedly having sex in New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral in 2002. The hosts signed with XM in August 2004.
According to the Times, the deal will have Roth replaced on CBS stations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Dallas, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and West Palm Beach, Florida, by a three-hour simulcast of the "Opie & Anthony" show that airs on XM weekday mornings. CBS would reportedly have free reign under the deal to censor the broadcast, which will air uncensored on XM during the simulcast and for two hours afterward exclusively on the satellite provider.
A spokesperson for CBS Radio would not comment on the reported deal and an XM spokesperson could not be reached at press time.
Roth's tenure at CBS has been rough, and early unofficial ratings have found him holding only a third of Stern's old audience (see "Tough Crowd: Listeners Tune Out Howard Stern's Successors"). He has openly discussed butting heads with management over the freewheeling show's format and his staffing choices and has bristled on-air about the changes he said management has demanded.
The reunion with hosts they fired just a few years ago is unexpected for an another reason. Last month, CBS Radio filed a $218-million suit against Stern and XM rival Sirius Satellite Radio that alleged that while at CBS, Stern misappropriated airtime to promote his January switch to Sirius. According to reports, Opie and Anthony will be free to mention XM and promote it during their simulcast, which is the first major syndication deal between terrestrial radio and emerging rival satellite.