XM Satellite Radio suspended shock jocks Opie and Anthony for 30 days Tuesday, one week after they aired crude sex comments about Condoleezza Rice, Laura Bush and Queen Elizabeth and one day after they made light of the incident in their broadcast.
“Comments made by Opie and Anthony on yesterday’s broadcast put into question whether they appreciate the seriousness of the matter,” Washington-based XM said in a statement. “The management of XM Radio decided to suspend Opie and Anthony to make clear that our on-air talent must take seriously the responsibility that creative freedom requires of them.”
Opie and Anthony, who last week apologized for the sex comments, struck a more defensive tone on Monday’s broadcast. They lamented the state of radio and what they perceived as excessive reactions to comments made by themselves and other radio disc jockeys.
“We’re under the same scrutiny as (National Public Radio) — it doesn’t make sense,” they said on Monday’s show.
The pair also expressed sympathy for Don Imus, saying his career is now “gone, just because he was trying to entertain people.”
Last month, cable network MSNBC dropped its simulcast of Imus’ show, then CBS Radio fired him for using racist and sexist terms to describe the Rutgers women’s basketball team.
On May 9, Opie and Anthony, whose full names are Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia, aired a segment with a man they call Homeless Charlie. As the names of Rice, Bush and the queen came up, Charlie said in vulgar terms that he would like to have sex with each of them.
Opie and Anthony laughed as they imagined Rice’s “horror” while describing a violent sexual encounter in which Rice is punched in the face.
Opie and Anthony were fired by CBS Radio in 2002 after broadcasting a call from two listeners who said they were having sex in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
XM hired the pair in 2004. Because the show airs on satellite radio, its content is not subject to regulation by the Federal Communications Commission.
Opie and Anthony also host a syndicated, tamer terrestrial radio program for CBS. Opie and Anthony will be on the air for that program as scheduled Wednesday morning, CBS Radio said Tuesday.
A call to Opie and Anthony’s agent, Robert Eatman, was not immediately returned Tuesday.
A spokesman for XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. declined to say whether Opie and Anthony would be paid during their suspension, calling it a contractual matter.