Now here's something that doesn't happen every day: Radio shock
jocks are having to absorb some shock of their own. Greg Hughes and Anthony
Cumia, known in 18 markets as the envelope-pushing "Opie and Anthony," were
fired by Infinity Broadcasting for encouraging a Virginia couple to have sex
inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City while producer Paul Mercurio
gave listeners the pew-rocking play-by-play on his cell phone.
This unusually offensive prank -- carried on as worshipers came
to this hallowed house of God to celebrate the holy day of obligation
marking Mary's assumption into Heaven -- prodded even the usually comatose
Federal Communications Commission to announce it would move swiftly to
investigate whether it violated federal rules against broadcasting
Common sense raises the immediate question: What's to
investigate? If this isn't an open-and-shut case, nothing is. Unfortunately,
that's the point. Opie and Anthony, along with their former Infinity
microphone-mates, Howard Stern and Don and Mike, have regularly cruised
beyond the bounds of decency with the tiniest of fines, which is why they
publicly laugh at and taunt the FCC on a regular basis.
Stern is the stereotype of sex-obsessed radio, constantly
demanding women display their private parts for the studio crew. Don and
Mike hold "strip trivia" contests with roomfuls of men and women, and have
encouraged women to "stir the soup" -- masturbate to climax over the
telephone. Asking Infinity to fire shock jocks for encouraging public
lewdness is like R.J. Reynolds firing factory workers for making cigarettes.
Before this pratfall, Opie and Anthony were best known for
encouraging women to show their breasts in public on "Whip 'Em Out
Wednesday." Their last straw came as part of a promotion listing 54 risky
locations for couples to have sex, offering the winners a trip to the Samuel
Adams brewery for pitching woo in public. Isn't that a nice commercial
tie-in? "Have our nice premium-brewed Sam Adams. Drink enough of these
beauties, and you, too, might have your judgment so impaired you try to get
it on at a church -- with our compliments."
Not only is the shock-milking home station for this formerly
syndicated duo, WNEW, in hot water with the authorities, so are the pitiful
participants. Brian Florence and Loretta Harper, both in their supposedly
wiser and more mature mid-thirties, are charged with public lewdness.
Instead of touring the Sam Adams brewery, they'll be touring a courthouse in
October for more embarrassing pictures in the tabloids. (I'm sure Opie and
Anthony won't be showing up to apologize to their parents at Thanksgiving
dinner.) Their lawyer claims the sex was only simulated for broadcast. That
might lessen the legal penalties, but it doesn't lessen their stupidity or
their callous disregard for churchgoers or their Lord.
The transcript of the 14-minute stunt has the cackling co-hosts
claiming that "obviously everybody knows ... they're just simulating the
acts ... right? ... They wouldn't be stupid enough to actually have
[inaudible] sex in a church? Right?" How pathetic that these drive-time
dimwits would bail out on the people they encouraged into this shameful
behavior by lamely insisting they didn't really mean to encourage cathedral
copulation. And how pathetic then that Infinity's action -- dead-right as it
was for one day after years of profiting from wrong -- somehow tries to
flush out the labor without taking any blame as management.
This only underlines everything that's wrong with this brand of
autoerotic audio. These stations pile up millions of listeners -- 10 million
for Opie and Anthony -- by pushing every sexual button. Then they hide
behind the teasing fakery of it all -- you weren't really scandalized
because it's only radio, and you can't see if we're making it up or not.
Maybe nobody's really naked, or having sex, alone or in pairs. And maybe
it's really not appropriate to encourage people to fornicate where kids
might walk in and need a few minutes of explanation. Is it really worth all
that sleaziness just to cobble together an audience for Sam Adams beer?
A sizable fraction of these listeners stay tuned just frozen in
continual amazement that these jocks are getting away with all of this. But
we've learned we can count on Opie and Anthony to be oblivious about where
society might finally draw a line. They were fired in Boston four years ago
for telling listeners that Mayor Tom Menino had been killed in a car
wreck -- on April Fool's Day. Some laugh-a-minute prank. Only in America
could people this stupid make themselves millionaires.