'Opie & Anthony' Co-Host: 'I Absolutely Do Not Believe That Anthony Should've Been Fired'
The show formerly known as Opie & Anthony returned live on SiriusXM Radio Monday, with Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Jim Norton embarking on their bizarre new reality of continuing their show in the wake of Anthony Cumia's firing.
After beginning the show by remarking how strange it is to be broadcasting without longtime cohort Anthony Cumia, Hughes and Norton revealed their reactions to Cumia's racist tweets, his firing by SiriusXM and why the two are continuing with the show.
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"It needs to be said that we're under contract. … I don't think people understand fully what being under contract means and what breach of contract means," Hughes said. "We can't just walk away. Breach of contract is a real issue. … We could be sued for millions. … It would be a big f—ing problem."
Norton added that he also has his own financial concerns, explaining that he's earning a salary from the show, and he doesn't have the kind of money where he can just walk away from a paying job.
The two remaining hosts also revealed their reaction to Cumia's tweets and why they were told he was fired.
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Hughes said his initial reaction after reading Cumia's tweets was, "Oh my God, we're fired," mostly because of the number of tweets and how harsh they were.
He added that even though SiriusXM gives them a lot of freedom on the air, "just the culture we live in, this doesn't feel right."
Norton added that he got nervous once the incident "hit the first blog."
Hughes explained that it just spiraled from there.
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"I saw it hit the first blog, and then I saw it just grow," he said. "I just know when it goes viral that way, companies get really panicky. … [Cumia] was pissed off. And when you're pissed off, you say horrible, awful things."
He hoped that SiriusXM would just ride it out but had a gut feeling they would take some action. Yet neither he nor Norton were prepared for what the station did do.
"The thing started growing, and I'm sitting there just hoping, but I just knew in my gut. And then when I got the word from our agent that they fired Anthony, I was like 'What? … Why didn't they fire all of us?' Because our contracts are connected like that. … It puts us in an extremely strange position."
Hughes added that he was told that Sirius was "kind of even OK with the tweets in general."
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"They weren't OK with the fact that there were so many of them," Hughes explained of Sirius' reaction to the tweets. "[They were] really bothered by the fact that there were so many of them— and bothered by there being violence associated with [the tweets]."
Still, Hughes doesn't think Sirius made the right decision.
"I absolutely do not believe that Anthony should have been fired. As harsh as the tweets were, as much as I had a gut feeling that this should've gone down. They should've rode it out," Hughes said.
Hughes added that if the incident had occurred the day before a live show, instead of during a long weekend, and they'd been able to go back on the air, he thinks it would've been OK.
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"If they had let us back on the air, we would've figured our way out of this one," Hughes said. "The jokes would've been there. To see all of those tweets without any jokes made it a lot harsher."
Hughes went on to say that the new show, on a channel that's no longer called "The Opie & Anthony Channel" but "SiriusXM Talk," will be different.
"There's a huge part of me that's missing. … Obviously Anthony is irreplaceable. … If you think that me and Jimmy are going to move on … it's just now different," Hughes said. "We're not trying to continue the Opie & Anthony show. … I haven't done a solo show officially in about 20 years. … I know we're here today. That's all I can tell people. [SiriusXM] might get upset at everything we just said, and that could be it."
The two indicated, though, that they're only at Sirius XM through October, so it's possible that they may leave after their contracts end. Still, it's unlikely right now that they'll reteam with Cumia on the podcast he's setting up from his Long Island home, Hughes said, explaining that he's fairly confident Cumia wants to go that alone.
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But the two remained hopeful that perhaps they could get the band back together, with Hughes explaining that in the past they've been fired and rehired by and worked for people who hated them."
He added that he got the indication from one of the SiriusXM executives that "the door is not completely shut … just slightly open."
Norton added that perhaps their situation could be like Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath and that they could patch things up after more than 30 years.
The duo then took a break and fielded calls.