With the firing of Anthony Cumia from the Opie and Anthony Show, SiriusXM has started down a very dangerous path that could ultimately help other audio entertainment mediums gain traction from ex-SiriusXM subscribers.
In the early days of satellite, the concept was novel and engaging. It was the little guy (satellite radio) against the big machine (terrestrial radio). SiriusXM was new, relevant, diverse, and free while terrestrial radio was tired, old, homogenized and static. It appears, in many ways, that SiriusXM has "grown up" to become the very thing it was fighting against and the firing of Cumia simply makes that transition visible, even though the transition has been happening for a few years now.
Channels that were very niche have been removed in favor of channels that carry more listener potential. Howard Stern is down to a 3 day work week and more vacation days than the average person gets in 3 years. The activities on the "shock-jock channels have been limited more and more, and it even got to the point where Opie and Anthony could not even play a clip from the Stern Show.
On the music front, specialized DJ's with a focus in a genre were let go in favor of DJ's that would do 3 or even 4 shows ranging from easy listening to heavy rock. Yes, satellite radio still has great content, but the service is slowly but surely forcing consumers to branch out.
Podcasting is nothing new, but it is gaining momentum. Perhaps one of the more noteworthy and famous podcasters is Adam Carolla. Here is what he had to say about the firing of Cumia:
"I feel bad that Anthony got shit-canned, I hate this world that we've created where everyone just s***-cans everyone for everything. I think there's a way that we can disagree with what he said or the language that he used but still make that his choice. His words and his experience. And move on from it. I don't like this thing where it's like: we don't like you because you said this and you used those words, and now you must be relieved of your livelihood.
Either way, we have built a pirate ship here and we can never be fired. That's the good news. Secondly, it is scary to me when the people who go off to become the alternative -- the SiriusXM, satellite, the hey, this is our uncensored world. That was part of the sell, right? We get to say f***, we get to say c***, we can say what we want. We don't have to worry about the FCC. It's weird when the people who break off to fight against the man become the man. And it sounds to me like SiriusXM has become the man."
Whether or not you like Anthony Cumia is not the issue. Whether or not you agree or disagree with what he said is not the issue. The issue here is that SiriusXM has started down a path that will present more and more problems as time passes. Where does it stop? If Niclole from the Morning Mash-Up says the wrong thing wheat will happen? If Ron Bennington steps out of line this weekend, what will happen. If Gary from the Stern Show gets a little too liberal with language will he be fired? What If Howard Stern appeared in BlackFace and made racial statements... oh... he did that!
SiriusXM is walking the fine line of trying to be politically correct for everyone when what they should be doing is marketing themselves as a celebration in diversity, varied opinion, and standing proud of the fact that they can be a platform for controversial things that traditional audio entertainment outlets will not touch.
Anthony Cumia is one man. His opinions will not resonate with everyone. The fact of the matter is that if anyone's opinions were to resonate with everyone you would likely have a stale and boring show. The company fired Cumia, on July 3rd, yet, it was just today, July 9th that the company removed Cumia's Twitter feed from its own website and even now, with those edits in place, the channel still describes the show in the following manner:
Outrageous, edgy, and unpredictable are just a few of the words used to describe Opie & Anthony. But the show is much more than shock and awe. Incisive commentary, awkward encounters, celebrity guests, and regular visits from the world’s top comics make it must-listen morning entertainment. Listen live weekdays at 6:30 am ET, with replays throughout the day.
Anthony Cumia will be starting a podcast titled "Live From The Compound" and certainly will get a good following. There are many passionate fans that are cancelling their subscriptions to SiriusXM and plan on following Cumia to the world of Podcasts. Cumia has not yet determined the platform, but rest assured, the addition of Cumia to any service will get traction overnight.
Adding to the drama is the fact that the Opie & Anthony Show on SiriusXM has its contract expire in just a few months. There is a distinct possibility that we could see the entire show make the migration. If that happens, the edgy talk content on SiriusXM will be substantially less attractive as an offering. Yes, Ron & Fez, Stern, Jay Thomas, and Jason Ellis will still be on SiriusXM, but aside from Stern, these other talented individuals do not have the same name recognition as the O & A show.
The next few weeks will be quite interesting. It will be also interesting to see what SiriusXM does the next time a talent on its airwaves says something considered "over the line". Stay Tuned!