Opie and Anthony, co-hosts of WNEW-FM's popular afternoon drive-time program, remained off the air for a second day Tuesday while a 350,000-member Catholic group pushed for their station to get its license revoked. The pair allegedly broadcast a live, eyewitness account of a couple having sex in the landmark Manhattan church. "Nothing would make us happier than for WNEW's license to be revoked," said William Donohue, head of the Catholic League, which has also demanded a hefty fine for WNEW's parent company. The station is one of 180 owned nationwide by Infinity Broadcasting. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, saying he had received hundreds of outraged phone calls and e-mails, promised that the complaints were "on the fast track" for consideration by his agency. If they prove true, he said, "this commission should consider the strongest enforcement action possible against this station, up to and including revocation."
The incident occurred last Thursday, when a Virginia couple was arrested after allegedly having sex in a vestibule just a few feet from worshippers in the church. The encounter was described as it happened during the "Opie and Anthony" show. It was part of a regular feature where couples can win prizes for having sex in risky places.
Brian Florence, 37, of Quantico, Va., and Loretta Lynn Harper, 35, of Alexandria, Va., were arrested on charges of public lewdness. Show producer Paul Mercurio, 42, who called via cell phone and described their actions, was charged with acting in concert. The Virginia pair was due back in court Wednesday. Their attorney, Miranda Fritz, has said they were only simulating sex.
Infinity, after allowing its DJs back on the air Friday afternoon, decided to remove Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia beginning Monday. "We will continue to look into the matter," said Dana McClintock, a spokesman for Infinity Broadcasting, adding that "Opie and Anthony" reruns would air indefinitely. The show is nationally syndicated in 17 markets outside New York City, including Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.
Over the past decade, the standards for broadcasting have coarsened, led by the envelope-pushing antics of Stern, Imus and a legion of imitators. But Opie and Anthony went beyond most. In 1998, they were fired from a Massachusetts station after announcing on April Fool's Day that Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino had died in a car crash.
Last year, ads for their program were yanked from 40 Westchester County buses after officials discovered that their "WOW" logo was a code encouraging women to doff their tops. And two months ago, the FCC imposed a $21,000 fine on Infinity after citing three "indecent" bits that appeared on the show between November 2000 and January 2001, one involving incest.