Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dino Costa: Why I Listen to this Man

Do you listen to sports talk radio?

I never used to with any regularity until the past year and half or so.

I have been a Sirius subscriber since April 2005.  I got it a few months after Howard Stern announced that he was moving to the satellite radio platform.  Around that time, Sirius admittedly was a fledgling company, being outdone mightily by XM.  Sirius had something like 400,000 subscribers to XM's few million, or something like that.  Since Sirius outgrew XM and then the two companies merged into one, the SiriusXM service is bigger than ever, with tens of millions of subscribers in the US and around the world.  The growth started with Stern, and has continued due to several other factors as his career winds down.

I was hooked on satellite radio pretty much from the get go. Having a platform with no commercials, no FCC, unlimited music stations in every imaginable genre and more, constant weather and traffic, lots of sports, etc. was quite appealing to me. To this day I cannot listen to FM radio without getting constantly annoyed by the smarmy DJs and horrible commercials.  Also, with the package I have, I can listen to every single NFL game (home and away feeds), NHL, NBA, College basketball, NASCAR races, and most importantly, all of my Phillies' home radio broadcasts.  I can do this on my phone, computer, or iPad.  It's nothing short of fantastic.

I got satellite radio for Stern, and I stay for many reasons in addition to him. MLB Radio is awesome, as it is non-stop baseball all year 'round.    I've come to enjoy many other shows on the platform, especially several shows on Mad Dog Radio, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo's channel.  I like many of the shows on the channel, minus the morning show which is oftentimes unlistenable, and I find myself listening to it during the day at work.  It's nighttime where I typically don't listen to radio at all--until I heard Dino Costa.

Dino who?  Dino Costa is a host on Mad Dog Radio on channel 86 on SiriusXM, and his show runs most nights from 7-11, minus Wednesdays when Coach K from Duke is on from 7-8 and Dino is relegated to only three hours.  This is criminal, but I digress.  The way you'd imagine a Coach K radio show is exactly how it is.  Drab and dull.

I had no idea who Dino Costa was prior to listening to his show, but after stumbling upon it I quickly learned what he was about.  Dino is a no nonsense, loud, passionate, opinionated, steadfast, intelligent, unapologetic,  no holds barred type of radio host.  His show isn't all about sports all the time--he oftentimes talks politics, current events, etc.  I cannot turn off the radio during his show unless I have to.  Many nights I choose the radio over tv.  He is the kind of host where people sit in freezing cars in their driveways just to keep listening to what he says.

The funny thing is that I disagree with much of what he says when it comes to social issues, as well as politics and even sports sometimes.  We are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  We are on opposite ends on many social issues.  Dino is a steadfast conservative and there are times I listen to what he is saying and shake my head, wondering how someone can think the way he does in this day and age.

How can I like the show, then?

The answer is simple: Dino's style is interesting and engaging.  He says what others are afraid to say.  How boring would the world be if we were all the same?  The fact that he can and does illicit a reaction out of you draws you in.  You never know what he is going to say next, which makes the show even more appealing.   He isn't afraid to give his real, honest, unflitered opinion, even when it is far from politically correct, or far from what the popular opinion is.  Others call in and give their opinions, but Dino will stick to his guns and hardly budge on his views. This both intrigues me and drives me nuts at the same time.  It reminds me of the sports talk version of Howard Stern--but Stern in his early and slightly rebellious years.

It's no secret to regular listeners that there is no love lost between Dino and the channel's namesake, Chris "Mad Dog" Russo.  But reality is, Dino saved the MDR channel when he arrived five years ago.  Regardless of how Chris feels about Dino personally, from a business perspective he owes him big time.  So why, after holding a harmless and fun "bid to spend Super Bowl Sunday with Dino Costa" segment on his show this past Wednesday night, was Dino suspended indefinitely?  The suits say it is because he held a "contest," which is against some rules they have there at SXM. But this wasn't a contest...it was an auction.  And it was compelling radio.

Why are other hosts allowed to peddle their products on the air (plug their websites, businesses, etc.) and Dino couldn't sell his brand--himself--to the highest bidder?  Perhaps the brass at SXM should wake up and realize the popularity of a man they continue to overlook, as for a solid three hours people called in placing their bids to get Dino to come watch the Super Bowl with them.  Keep in mind, it wasn't going to be sponsored by MDR, or SXM--it was just going to be Dino going somewhere and enjoying the game with his fans.  The whole situation is just unfair.

I've been writing this post for a few days now, and since I started it, there has been a development.  Dino is back on the air as of tonight.  If you have SiriusXM turn to channel 86 from 7-10 EST and give him a listen. Or check out www.dinoradio.com.

You'll laugh, shake your head in disbelief, agree, disagree, and experience a whole range of emotions.  I also guarantee you'll learn something.

As Dino says, like him or loathe him, you can't stop listening to him.  He's right.

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