UPDATE 4/11/08 2:16 PM: We've been forwarded an affiliate list that shows another 7 or so markets for O&A outside New York, Boston and Cleveland. We don't know how accurate that is, but they have lost a lot of big markets in this most recent run...
We started noticing a trend when the reports filtered in.
CBS Radio has come to a new contract agreement with its syndicated hot talk hosts Opie and Anthony. The duo who came back to the company after the attempt to replace hot talk morning icon Howard Stern with rocker David Lee Roth crashed and burned so spectacularly that you could see it from here.
"Diamond Dave's" short stint, which will easily make history in the "Bad Radio Idea" category, left the CBS Radio folks so desperate that they had to go back to two radio hosts who had their very own massive entry in the "Bad Radio Idea" category - doing a sexually-related show live from a New York City church.
O&A, of course, first resurfaced on XM Satellite Radio, and it's still their "home". The new CBS Radio deal announced Thursday is the same as their first return deal - the duo host a 3 hour broadcast friendly over-air show for CBS that's simulcast on XM, then do a ceremonial walk to the satellite company's studios to finish it up without broadcast standards above their heads.
But the deal is different in one way...the "trend" we noticed.
While the initial return to CBS slotted O&A in nearly all of the former Stern markets (Eastern U.S. division) in morning drive, this deal only covers three affiliates: Over-air flagship alt-rock WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock" in New York City, rocker WBCN/104.1 Boston, and an O&A mainstay, alt-rock WKRK/92.3 right here in Northeast Ohio.
Are we reading this right? Is O&A's over-air affiliate list actually down to three stations, New York, Boston and Cleveland?
It's a sign that the duo has struggled since returning to over-air radio. O&A have lost a bunch of major markets, from Philadelphia (rock WYSP, once an O&A stronghold, went with a local show in morning drive) to Detroit (long-time FM talker then-WKRK flipped to FM sports as WXYT-FM with local morning drive hosts, sending its old call letters down I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike to Cleveland's 92.3.).
In the Motor City, in fact, Opie and Anthony actually ended up replacing Cleveland's own Shane "Rover" French, who landed in Detroit in his own post-Stern deal out of Chicago.
O&A's current CBS Radio deal covers the same number of stations that Rover now airs on - three - though the New York-based duo's markets are much larger.
And O&A have replaced Rover on his original CBS Radio home here...moving in from afternoon tape delay on 92.3 after the Big Dog of local young-skewing FM morning talk radio moved to his new kennel, Clear Channel rock/talk WMMS/100.7.
One big problem for "edgy FM talkers" - the post-Janet Jackson mindset has even long-time FM talk proponent CBS Radio pulling hosts back from the edge...