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Old 04-25-2006, 07:38 AM   #1
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a first-time ever talent-sharing deal between commercial and subscription radio, CBS Corp. is bringing XM Satellite Radio bad boys "Opie & Anthony" back to terrestrial drive time to try to fill the gap left by shock jock Howard Stern in seven cities.

"Opie & Anthony," pulled off the air four years ago by CBS over a sexually explicit comedy bit that got them in hot water with U.S. regulators, will take over the morning show hosted by rocker David Lee Roth, who was Stern's short-lived replacement in East Coast markets.

Financial terms of the agreement, announced on Monday, were not disclosed, but CBS is paying an unspecified syndication fee for the XM radio duo, who will be broadcasting from Stern's old studio at CBS-owned WFNY-FM in New York City.

Starting on Wednesday, a three-hour segment of "Opie & Anthony" will be simulcast on XM Satellite (Nasdaq:XMSR - news) and CBS Radio stations in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, and West Palm Beach, Florida.

The CBS feed will be subject to the same broadcast standards as other shows, while XM will air "Opie & Anthony" uncensored, as it always has.

The co-hosts also will continue to broadcast for two more hours exclusively on XM, where they have worked since October 2004.

In an interview with Reuters, radio partners, Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia suggested their new CBS show would be noticeably tamer than what listeners were accustomed to hearing before they were fired.

"Back then, the climate of radio seemed to be: the worse you got in trouble, the better you did in radio.... Well, that era is over," Cumia told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Cumia insisted that he and Hughes would continue to "push the edge" and even "butt a few heads with management," but said they would save their most outlandish bits for the two hours that air on XM only.

The pact between CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBSA - news) and XM marks the first time that a program exclusive to subscription-based satellite radio has been syndicated to traditional commercial outlets on terrestrial radio, officials at both companies said.

For Hughes and Cumia, the deal provides a tremendous sense of vindication, they said.

"It's really kind of cool that the company that blew you out ... had to call you off the bench," Cumia said.

"Even though we've had tremendous success at XM, this is just the ultimate gig," Hughes added. "Anthony and I built our career for over 10 years, and we were at the top of our game ... and it was taken away because we got stupid, and that was hard to live with for over two years."

XM President and Chief Executive Office Hugh Panero said the syndication deal gives his company, which boasts more than 6.5 million subscribers, an additional revenue stream and greater exposure for one of its top 10 shows.

For CBS, the agreement provides a proven radio drive-time commodity to replace the floundering show hosted by Roth, the former Van Halen frontman who was hired to succeed Stern in seven markets after Stern left CBS in December for XM rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (Nasdaq:SIRI - news). Roth's final show aired last Friday.

Stern, now embroiled in a legal dispute with CBS, has said he left commercial radio due to years of frustration with regulatory constraints that reached a crescendo in the aftermath of Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl performance on CBS television in 2004.

But it was the enormous popularity of Stern's own ribald CBS Radio program that in large part paved the way for the likes of "Opie & Anthony" and other "shock jock" hosts.

XM hired Hughes and Cumia two years after they were yanked off the air by CBS amid complaints about their broadcast of an episode known as "Sex for Sam."

In that bit, the hosts aired what federal regulators described as a couple engaged in actual or simulated sexual activity inside New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.

For now, Stern's old morning drive-time slot remains occupied on other CBS Radio outlets by a number of radio personalities, including comic Adam Carolla in radio stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon.

Panero said the XM syndication deal allows CBS to expand its distribution of "Opie & Anthony" in the future.
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