The office even looks like a frat house. Porno tapes line the bookshelves. Opie's desk, littered with such research material as Maxim, FHM, Stuff and Seventeen, is flanked by two Britney Spears posters. Anthony's desk, littered with a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen book, video and T shirt, sits under a poster of the twins. "Look how hot they're getting. And that's an old picture," Anthony says. On further inspection, he dismisses Mary-Kate as the priss. "Ashley is the goer."
The entire country will have a chance to hear what guys talk about when they're trying really hard to sound like guys. Infinity Broadcasting, the radio arm of Viacom, this month began syndicating The Opie & Anthony Show, based in New York City, to such cities as Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia, and will soon have them on about 20 stations. Viacom hopes O&A can duplicate their ratings success in New York, where they are often No. 1 in their prime demographic-- men 25 to 49. Gregg (Opie) Hughes (he looks like Opie from The Andy Griffith Show), 36, and Anthony Cumia, 39, are the descendants of Howard Stern, replacing his sour trangressiveness with male realpolitik: while Stern interviews strippers, O&A just want them to take off their clothes.
Viacom also syndicates the flagging Stern, who is no fan of O&A. And vice versa. "He's been working off the same formula for a long time: Here's a girl, get naked, hoo hoo hoo," says Opie. "It's the same midgets, the same pinheads. For today's society, you have to keep things interesting." Interesting isn't always tasteful, as when Jay Mohr, the actor, comedian and frequent guest, sang the song Full Blown AIDS, making fun of AIDS patients.
But O&A are often clever, hammering at the outer band of humor that gets laughs from discomfort. Like listening to a gay man perform oral sex on a woman for 'N Sync tickets. Or playing the silent game, where they book bad guests and let them wallow in dead air. They call it cringe radio, at once punk and frat, like Blink-182 or Fred Durst. It's The Man Show without all that annoying polish. The program has a real garage feeling, with staff members walking in and out of the studio, twisting knobs, grabbing papers. There is no separate producer's booth: Opie twiddles his own knobs.
But what O&A are most famous for is "Whip 'em Out Wednesdays," when women are encouraged to flash guys who have WOW bumper stickers on their cars, or even just the staff of a live Today show, as a listener did last summer. And while Stern has to import porn stars, O&A have little trouble finding young women to play along. "I think it gives women some power," Opie explains. When asked what he means by that, he leans his chair back against the conference-room window and says, "That's a good question. What do I mean by that?"
Even though Anthony does some great impersonations and some middling song parodies, this is, in the end, a talk show about breasts. "You can go to other talk stations," says Opie, "but they talk about politics and stuff my dad is interested in. Who cares?" And O&A listeners, unlike those of most call-in shows, don't call in with questions but stay on the air to trade jokes, or just e-mail them in to be read on air. Since their home station, WNEW-FM, spends little advertising the show, the jocks have built their audience by putting on road shows, inviting listeners to drinks at Hooters or handing out bumper stickers from a bus. As working-class guys from Long Island, O&A have a knack for making their often not so bright fans seem interesting--and integral. "Some guy shows up with a case of beer, and half an hour later he's on our show," says Opie.
Sometimes they'll even pretend to listen to people outside the frat. "If a group gets p_____ off at something we're doing--say, the gay community--and a guy calls in, and he's gay and articulate and doesn't have too gay a voice, we give him an open forum," says Opie, slipping into a moment of earnestness. Then he snaps out of it. "Then we call him a f_____ and bring on the next stripper."