Sunday, April 23, 2006

Roth is fired; Opie and Anthony to replace him; CBS Radio continues to lose credibility

Last Friday, April 21, was David Lee Roth's last day in Howard Stern's old timeslot. CBS gave him four months to fill the shoes and equal the ratings of a radio-industry veteran of over 20 years who was consistently number one in many of his markets and drew millions of loyal fans nationwide.

According to an exclusive interview (bottom, "Farewell to Free FM") with Roth by Steve Langford of Howard 100 News, David's show was cut off 20 minutes early on Friday and ended only with music. Roth stated to Howard 100 News that his career in radio was not over and that he would be "stopping by SIRIUS sometime soon." Additional quotes and background audio clips are available on Stern's SIRIUS web page under Howard 100 News Special Reports.

Short-sightedness isn't really a surprise given the focus on immediate returns that corporations can't seem to get away from these days. Pure stupidity and hypocrisy, however, are another story. The purported replacement show for Roth is none other than Opie and Anthony (O&A), the very duo that CBS Radio fired over four years ago because they broadcast the sounds of what was allegedly a couple having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. I can't wait to see the spin put on this rehiring move to appease sponsors, the religious right and other conservatives who will almost certainly make a stink about this.

Opie and Anthony were hired by XM in 2004 after being fired by CBS. Their show is supposed to be "one of the top 10 most listened to" programs on XM, but curiously the show doesn't even have its own page on XM's web site. So now CBS Radio will supposedly broadcast a three hour version of O&A's XM show, which will of course be censored, in Roth's time slot. That should make for some great radio -- O&A will have an incentive to clean up (read: make boring and less "outrageous" as they are billed on XM) their show so listeners will be able to follow the show on terrestrial radio, plus terrestrial listeners will hear only an incomplete version of the entire show. Every day. Sounds pathetically boring. This isn't good for the XM subscribers either because even though they will hear the "uncensored" version of the 3 hour CBS simulcast, they will undoubtedly hear a watered-down show due to O&A trying to work within CBS's and the FCC's content restrictions.

How sad is it when the executives of the dominant radio medium, terrestrial FM radio, think they have to go to a competing upstart content provider for material they are counting on to make back top ratings? What a complete lack of thought on their part. You can't tell me there is no one else at CBS radio who can do a decent morning radio broadcast. Who says the only way to make big ratings is to copy Howard Stern? Give someone a chance to innovate.

Interestingly, this pairing of terrestrial and satellite radio will also be promoting XM Radio, a company that provides a service CBS Radio is apparently afraid of losing listeners to. Promotion of satellite radio and the corresponding alleged loss of revenue due to it is exactly what CBS is now suing Howard Stern over. Maybe CBS Radio is hoping it can use it's marketing muscle to promote XM enough to make SIRIUS a minor player. Whatever its motivation, this move by CBS Radio reveals its knee-jerk decision-making process, short-term thinking, and real fear of truly original broadcast content.

Related posts: Sacramento drops Stern; Stern still has it; Adam Carolla on Free FM


Eric said...

I heard about the Roth firing on Howard News. I have to say, Stern pretty much called it. He said Roth would be fired and CBS would try and screw him out of cash, which appears to be the case.

I never listen to terrestrial radio anymore, anyhow, so none of this makes a woot of difference. I guess it's like being mesmerized by a train wreck; you just can't stop watching.

Maharet said...

i don't know anything about satellite radio and only listened to howard a handful of times in the last few years. when he made the switch it did cause a big stink, but i don't get why people cared so much... (that's only because i just didn't listen to him as much anymore of course.)

as far as opie and anthony... well, i doubt they could fill his shoes, but given time who knows. still, this xm deal sucks for the people paying for xm which is serious bullsh#@. and i don't think it'll help their ratings over sirius at all.