When CBS radio announced in late April that the “Opie and Anthony” radio show was returning after a four-year hiatus, Bill Donohue surprised many radio critics by welcoming them back. Here’s what happened.
After Donohue lashed out at “Opie and Anthony” for providing an on-air account of a sexual stunt in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 2002, they were fired by Infinity Broadcasting, the CBS Radio outlet. Once they were dumped, Donohue withdrew the complaint that he had filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and asked the FCC to drop its investigation.
On August 5, 2004, Donohue issued a news release about the decision of XM Satellite Radio to pick up the duo beginning October 4 of that year. At that time he said, “We wish Opie and Anthony well and trust they have learned their lesson.”
In the year-and-a-half that Opie and Anthony were on XM Satellite, not a single complaint reached our office about anything they said. Indeed, when the two shock jocks were picked up by XM, their producer called one morning and asked Donohue if he would go on the air with them. Though he had some reservations, he said yes, and was immediately put through. They made it clear that they regretted the St. Patrick’s stunt. All three mixed it up for a bit and had a great time.
Days before CBS picked up “Opie and Anthony” again, Anthony Cumia, aka “Anthony,” called Donohue to say that he and Greg “Opie” Hughes wanted a “fresh start.” He made it clear that the Catholic bashing that they previously engaged in was a thing of the past. Donohue said fine.
Donohue was then invited on the new “Opie and Anthony” show as their first guest. The interview, complete with many light moments, drew applause from many quarters. But not everyone approved. When asked by some critics why he was so forgiving, Donohue replied that forgiveness is something special in the Catholic religion; it would be unfair to reject their apology, he reasoned, especially given their apparent sincerity.
By the way, one of those who complained that Donohue was going too easy on the two was none other than Howard Stern. Stern, who was sued by CBS after he left for another radio gig, said he was surprised by Donohue’s reaction given the St. Patrick’s stunt. Donohue called Stern a fraud on “Opie and Anthony” for feigning interest in anti-Catholicism.
This explains why in our news release, we ended by saying, “In short, the Catholic League hopes Opie and Anthony have a great run on CBS Radio.”