"Clean-cut and blond, with a guileless smile and a hearty, helpless laugh"

Still, Infinity executives and their superiors at Viacom quickly sacrificed "The Opie and Anthony Show,” fearing the mushrooming controversy would undermine the broadcaster's reputation on Capitol Hill. A veteran communications lawyer in Washington, who asked not to be named, said: "You always want to have a clean deck as you move towards a major initiative, with Congress, the FCC or even the White House,” he said.

Viacom has been in trouble before. In 1996 it donated $1.7 million to the FCC, in effect settling obscenity fines leveled against Howard Stern during a 10-year period. At the time, it was seeking approval for a rapid expansion of its Infinity radio division.

That Hughes and Cumia, two potty-mouthed dudes from Long Island, would spark a controversy that threatened Viacom's $23-billion empire and defiled the most famous church in America is unimaginable to friends and former co-workers. They continue to describe them as fun-loving, regular guys.

Hughes, 39, graduated from Harborfields High School in Greenlawn in 1981. He enjoyed basketball, Islanders' games, skiing and movies, according to his yearbook entry. He hated lifting weights, math and disco.

After interning at WBAB, Hughes landed a job as a disc jockey in Buffalo. He honed his skills there before returning to WBAB to be closer to his family, according to friends.

Hughes is clean-cut and blond with a guileless smile and a hearty, helpless laugh. Former employers described him as "talented and able to really .connect with listeners.” They also said he was successful before meeting Cumia, now 41, an inspired mimic and master of song parodies.

Cumia, who attended John Glenn High School in Elwood, was installing air conditioners and playing in a rock band when he began calling Hughes' show. The duo clicked creatively and soon became close friends.

Hughes convinced WBAB to make Cumia a .regular on the show but the station couldn't afford a second salary. So, Cumia received $25 a week for gas money.

"They were just hysterical... I really enjoyed watching them meld together as the show went on,” said Buchmann, the former program director at WBAB.

He last saw Hughes and Cumia about a month ago when they showed up for the opening of The Radio Grill, his restaurant in Smithtown. The shock jocks appeared to have the world by the tail. "I told them, ‘You are in 17 markets now and I'm sure you will triple that in the next year.' They winked,” Buchmann recalled.

He described the sex stunt "as a lapse in judgment” but questioned the jocks' firing. "They've crossed the line before and not been punished in any way. Why this time?” Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.

/r/opieandanthony Thread