CBS Radio's David Lee Roth Replaced by Opie & Anthony in Seven Markets

Roth Failed to Hold on to Howard Stern Audience

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Buyers are mixed on the news that Opie & Anthony are replacing David Lee Roth at seven of CBS Radio's top stations. Mr. Roth's short-lived radio career ended today as the jock bid his audience goodbye. He'll be replaced with familiar voices, XM Satellite Radio's Opie & Anthony, in a first-of-its kind licensing agreement between a satellite radio company and a terrestrial broadcaster.
David Lee Roth
David Lee Roth Credit: AP

"This is a truly logical choice," said Rich Russo, director-broadcast, JL Media. "It's one of the smarter things CBS has done in awhile. Opie & Anthony were successful in Boston, Philly, New York, which are Roth's three big markets."

"I'm sure they'll do a better job than Roth," said Dennis McGuire, VP-regional spot director at Carat, although he expressed concern about what the move means for radio's talent pipeline. "Does this represent a dearth of personality talent for radio that they have to go backwards instead of bringing up new talent?"

Novel experiment
Mr. Roth was part of a slew of appointments CBS used to replace Howard Stern in 27 markets after Mr. Stern left to become a key player for Sirius Satellite Radio at the beginning of this year. Mr. Roth was a novel experiment on CBS Radio's part -- put a relative radio amateur with star power behind the morning-drive mic in some of its largest markets -- but one that failed miserably as the winter ratings book will indicate. Opie & Anthony will fill the hole left by Mr. Roth in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and West Palm Beach, Fla.

XM gets not only the promotional vehicle of terrestrial radio to push its satellite service, but it gets a licensing fee from CBS and an extra hour of Opie & Anthony content. Additionally, because of the disparate commercial minutes between XM's Opie & Anthony show and CBS Radio's morning sow -- about eight minutes vs. 18, respectively -- XM listeners will hear 10 minutes of bonus material per hour. Both companies declined to comment on the news.

Radio watchers will recall that Opie & Anthony were yanked off the air in 2002 after broadcasting a stunt in which a couple allegedly had sex in Manhattan's St. Patrick's Cathedral. They've continued their shock jock-style show for the past two years in the relative haven of satellite radio, which isn't subject to FCC indecency regulations.

CBS Radio CEO Joel Hollander had touted Mr. Stern's replacements, including Mr. Roth, as more advertiser-friendly, thanks to cleaner shows, and said CBS would be able to appeal to a wider swath of advertisers without Mr. Stern. But some marketers may have concerns about Opie & Anthony, given their polluted past.

"Even Opie & Anthony sanitized will be edgier than Roth was," Mr. Russo said.

The duo will broadcast a cleaner version of their show for three hours, which will air between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on CBS and XM simultaneously. Then they'll broadcast an additional two hours exclusively for XM. The pair will be allowed to plug their XM show on the CBS broadcast.
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