- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) In the almost-anything-goes world of radio a pair of New York shock jocks have discovered what goes too far: sex, real or faux, inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Opie and Anthony, co-hosts of WNEW-FM's afternoon drive-time program, remained off the air for a second day yesterday while a 350,000-member Catholic group pushed for the revocation of their station's license. The pair broadcast a live, eyewitness account of what they said was a couple engaging in sexual relations 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.

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member 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.

The incident occurred last Thursday, when a Virginia couple were arrested after the two entertainers broadcast an account of a couple engaging in sexual relations in a vestibule just a few feet from worshippers in the church. It was part of a regular feature where couples can win prizes for having sexual relations in indiscreet places.

Brian Florence, 37, of Quantico, Va., and Loretta Lynn Harper, 35, of Alexandria, Va., were arrested on charges of public lewdness. Paul Mercurio, 42, the producer of the show, was charged with acting in concert.

A spokesman for the FCC said "this commission should consider the strongest enforcement action possible against this station, up to and including revocation." The Virginia pair are due back in court today. Their attorney, Miranda Fritz, has said they were only simulating sex.

Infinity Broadcasting, after allowing its DJs back on the air Friday afternoon, said it would 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 cities, including New York City, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Washington.

Over the past decade, the standards for broadcasting have coarsened, led by the envelope-pushing antics of Howard Stern, Don 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.

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