While O&A had a strong fanbase during their early days on WAAF in Boston, there is little, if any, knowledge of such avid activities until O&A's arrival to 102.7 WNEW-FM in New York in 1998.
To counter critics and other radio jocks, O&A turned to their more enthusiastic fans, nicknaming them "The O&A Army" (or "Pests"). The late 1990s saw the rise of the internet, allowing for good coordination of the Pests, who would often take over rival chat rooms and message boards, while disruptively calling in to rival radio shows. In the early days, they did not have any field leaders, taking their orders mainly from O&A, but would independently promote the show in a grassroots viral marketing effort, an approach they continue to use today.
It was not until O&A's 2004 debut on XM Satellite Radio that the O&A Army took their efforts to another level, assigning "Generals" to coordinate their efforts, and adopting tactics reminiscent of flash mobs.
The AOTM campaign "unofficially" began in the summer of 2000 when a young woman named Suzie flashed the camera live on NBC's Today Show for Opie and Anthony. Over time, more fans inserted themselves into live shots, and in July 2005, O&A officially began an AOTM contest. Every month, they would provide prizes for the best "Assault on the Media".
On May 19, 2005, WCBS-TV reporter Arthur Chi'en was doing a remote when O&A intern Nathaniel Bryan approached him, holding up a poster for the show. Bryan and another man, later identified as Crazy Cabbie who happened to be nearby, made gestures at the camera and repeated the show's name. When Chi'en finished his introduction, he promptly turned around and loudly asked Bryan, "What the fuck is your problem, man?" Chi'en may have thought that his director at the station had already cut off his broadcast to start playing the recorded report, but this was not the case, and the audio went out live over the air. Chi'en apologized after the report, but was fired by the station later that day , as WCBS-TV has a zero-tolerance policy for obscenity. The utterance that got Chi'en fired became a popular saying on the show, and is repeated frequently, usually with a juvenile emphasis on the word "man." Chi'en resurfaced on WPIX-TV in August 2005 and remained a field reporter. A video of this incident can be found on youtube..
On the morning of December 6 2005, a fan attempting an AOTM sounded an air horn during a New York City television station's live news remote report in New Jersey. Ocean Township police questioned the man, whom they would not identify, but no charges were filed; however, the man did face a possible assault charge if the WABC-TV reporter, Anthony Johnson, suffered hearing damage. Johnson filed a lawsuit in December 2007, alleging that his hearing had been permanently damaged in the incident, listing the air horn wielder, the two radio hosts, and XM Satellite Radio, which broadcasts the show, in his claim.
Following the harassment, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey issued the following statement: "Encouraging fans to intervene in live news shots is inappropriate and dangerous. Today a fan sounded an air horn in a reporter's ear and this action may result in permanent hearing damage for the reporter who was harassed. Reporters are professionals who provide a great service to the public by delivering news. They should be treated with respect and not antagonized as part of a radio show gag. I won't tolerate anything less in our state. The person who committed this act should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I wish Mr. Johnson a speedy and healthy recovery." In the wake of the incident (and a personal request from WABC reporter Bill Evans, said to have feared for his and his family's safety should a fan "go too far"), O&A officially ended the AOTM contest.
After several days of constant calls from Pests, Philips started taking fewer calls, and quizzed callers before allowing them to speak, claiming his fans were "smarter" than O&A's fans. The quizzing backfired, since the Philips' questions were so difficult that no one, Philips fans or O&A fans alike, could answer them. Philips threatened legal action, saying "My lawyers are better than yours." His efforts did not deter the attack, so Philips eventually stopped taking calls, ceased all mention of "Mr. Hughes" and "Mr. Cumia" , and no longer claimed that his talk show was the most successful on XM.
Eventually, O&A stopped mentioning Philips and the attack ceased shortly thereafter. Several weeks later, O&A fans raised enough money to purchase a billboard on his projected route to and from his radio station that read, "Mr. Philips, The Pests Win. You Lose. Good Day, Sir! - The Opie and Anthony Army, Commemorating the Pat Battle of O-Town.
On November 18, 2004, shortly after announcing his move to Sirius Satellite Radio, Stern organized a rally in Union Square, New York City to distribute free Sirius units to his fans. O&A sent a contingency of Pests holding large O&A signs to infiltrate the crowd.
A year later on November 17, 2005, the Pests coordinated an attack on Stern's appearance on David Letterman's show, holding up large O&A signs and banners, while shouting O&A chants upon Stern's arrival.
On December 16, 2005 the Pests organized for 'The Million Pest March' to "protest" Howard Stern's rally celebrating his final day on terrestrial radio. They arrived holding large Opie & Anthony signs but were denied entry to the cordoned-off rally area by the NYPD (on Stern's orders). A handful of Pests did make it through, but were promptly removed from the crowd upon revealing their O&A signs and banners.
Denied access to the rally, the Pests marched the streets surrounding the rally, chanting O&A references and harassing Stern fans. After the rally, the Pests followed Stern's bus to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, where Stern was holding a luncheon for a small group of fans. The Pests continued to march outside the Hard Rock Cafe, where Stern fans had congregated in hopes of getting a free lunch. Still undeterred by visibly hostile Stern fans who outnumbered them, the Pests performed a "funeral dirge" for Howard's career, carrying a makeshift coffin made of cardboard through the Stern crowd.
On January 9, 2006 'war' was officially declared by O&A. The show was opened with a live feed of rival Howard Stern's first show on Sirius Satellite Radio. On March 14, 2006, when Stern was arriving for a Letterman appearance, a group of Pests shouted "O&A Party Rock!", and chased after his limosine.
At least four Pest calls went on over the air, with Whoopi vowing to "screen [calls] better." She also mentioned she was a good friend of Howard [Stern] and that "those other guys aren't worth the dust he [Howard] walks on." On August 3 2006 Whoopi *surprised* the O and A crew with a drop-in visit, which earned her respect from the show and a truce in the Pest onslaught.
O&A challenged their listeners to find ways of getting Tyra's attention in order to "let her know how we feel." On February 3 2007, Pest mainstay No Filter Paul infiltrated the background of SNY's news program, holding up a sign that read "Tyra is a Big Fat Pig." Two days later on February 4 2007, Jewish Monkey of the P.O.W.'s ("Pests Out West" or "Pests of the West") hung a large banner reading "Opie & Anthony P.O.W.'s, Tyra Banks is a Fatty Pig Fatty" outside the CBS Television City studio where Banks' show is taped.