Return of Dino Costa: Would you pay $72 per year for subscription-based show?

Looking who is plotting a return to sports talk radio? My old pal Dino Costa.

Tom Van Riper at discusses Costa’s plans to launch a subscripton-based show.

So what to do?  Embark on a go-it-alone formula that, if successful, could prove to be the path for more media personalities looking to sustain their careers, or just to find a way in. Costa is gearing up for his own gig, set to launch on May 5, emanating from a 750-square-foot studio in Cheyenne, Wyoming, distributed on PCs and mobile devices, for a subscription fee of $72 a year. The plan is for an eventual stable of contributors to churn out content through audio, video and the written word.

To find investors willing to provide start-up cash, he hit social media, eventually getting the attention of two of his Sirius listeners in New Jersey: Anthony Menicola, an owner of construction and landscaping businesses, and Frank Stillitano, an accountant and management consultant. Together they invested $250,000, enough for a low-overhead media startup to get going.

In today’s crowded, cutthroat marketplace in sports (and other) media, is this the new vehicle of entry?  In a certain sense, the business has always been entrepreneurial – you either find a way to get ratings or you go away. But today’s technology allows you to put yourself out there solo at a low cost. It means doing without the advantages of a brand name station or network umbrella. But it also means more freedom to read the marketplace and serve it the way you want to. And if you hit, all the profit flows to you. Costa’s numbers say 2,500 customers would provide enough subscription and ad revenue to break even. His goal is “several thousand” or so subscribers within the first year.

John Chelesnik, who runs the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America, praises Costa’s abilities but points out that the rogue approach is still a tough road to hoe. “Why would someone pay when there’s so much choice, so much free content?” he posits.

Costa, who does go in with an advantage of a built-in listener base from his years at Sirius, says this: “We believe we’re at a price point that’s reasonable for content that’s not available anywhere else.”

I will say this for Dino. When I wrote about his dismissal from SiriusXM, I received more response than any previous post I have done in two years at this site.

Obviously, he has a loyal following. But will they be $72 per year loyal?

At the very least, Costa won’t be gripping about the management.


Chicago news: WGN to launch new sports talk station on FM

Harry & Spike reunited!

Robert Feder with the news of a new sports talk entry in Chicago.

At 1:02 p.m. Monday, WGN will kick off The Game under terms of a local marketing agreement with Venture Technologies Group, owner of the low-power station’s license. As first reported here Friday, Tribune Broadcasting is leasing the signal of WKQX LP 87.7 through September 2015. The call letters are expected to be changed to WGWG by midweek, pending government approval.

“We’re going after a young, more educated sports audience,” Jimmy deCastro, president and general manager of news/talk WGN, said of the new addition. “We want this to be young and hip and fun.”

And the lineup, including the return of Harry and Spike:

Mornings will lead off with Jonathon Brandmeier (who’ll also continue to be heard online on the virtual station The rest of the day will be sports-oriented, starting with veteran WGN sports host David Kaplan and Chicago Tribune sports columnist David Haugh in middays. WGN’s Alex Quigley and Big Ten Network’s Howard Griffith will host early afternoons, followed by the duo of Harry Teinowitz and Spike Manton in late afternoons. WGN’s Mark Carman will be on in evenings, followed by overnight programming from NBC Sports Radio. WGN’s Jordan Bernfield will be a full-time sports reporter.

Dan McNeil on return to WSCR: ‘I still have game left in me’; talks about struggles about addiction

After an eight-week absence, a “nervous” Dan McNeil returned to WSCR-AM 670 at noon today.

“As often as I’ve been through this, you’d think I’d be used to this,” McNeil said. “It doesn’t get any easier.”

He was very frank about suffering another relapse to his marijuana and painkiller addiction; how he almost decided to quit; and how he realized he wants to work again.

Here are some excerpts:

“To suggest I relapsed would be an insult to people who relapse. I returned to a lifestyle of doing weed and painkillers (in Aug. 2012)….I’m an addict. That’s not a gentle word, but that’s what I am. I can’t taste on occasion.”

“I headed to some dark places. My low is a burning desire to be alone. Isolation. My private Idaho. Sealing myself away from most people in the world.”

“I still have some game left in me. I’m glad to be here. I apologize to listeners for not being here the last eight weeks. Hopefully, I can make sobriety a lifestyle. That’s what I have to do be here.”


While his partner Matt Spiegel welcomed McNeil back, he said, “You have to regain some trust around here.”

McNeil said, “I know that. I wear that sign.”


Best wishes, Dan. Good to hear you again.




Ron Burgundy’s favorite team? Yes, it’s Jacksonville; Clips from appearance on Dan Patrick show

At least we know one person who is looking forward to tonight’s Jacksonville-Houston game. During an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show today, Ron Burgundy said the Jags are his favorite team.

Oh wait, Burgundy isn’t a real person? Never mind.

Here’s Ron giving his version of the call for Kirk Gibson’s famous homer.

CBS Sports Network to simulcast WFAN’s Boomer & Carton morning show

Some national exposure for Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton’s show. And some morning programming for CBS Sports Network.

The official rundown.


CBS announced today that beginning January 2014 CBS Sports Network will simulcast “Boomer & Carton,” the popular morning show broadcast on CBS RADIO’s WFAN-AM/FM.  Combining these two powerful assets within CBS will result in national exposure for the local radio program and premier weekday content for the 24-hour cable home of CBS Sports.  The four-hour morning show is hosted by NFL ON CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton live Monday-Friday from 6:00-10:00 AM, ET.

“Boomer & Carton” debuted on Sept. 4, 2007, and features local sports talk, news headlines, and interviews with current and former sports icons, league personnel, and a variety of national celebrities from the entertainment and music industries.  The show originates from CBS RADIO’s WFAN studio in New York City.

“The addition of the “Boomer and Carton” show significantly enhances our on-air line-up adding hours of live and relevant programming to CBS Sports Network each morning,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “It is great to be able to welcome one of the nation’s top sports talk radio shows to the Networks of CBS Sports.”

“Boomer and Carton have created one of the industry’s best sports talk programs that captures all the drama and excitement of New York sports,” said Dan Mason, President and CEO, CBS RADIO.  “Together we look forward to presenting the show to the CBS Sports Network audience of enthusiastic sports fans.”

CBS Sports Network is available across the country to more than 99 million homes through local cable, video and telco providers and via satellite on DIRECTV Channel 221 and DISH Network Channel 158.  The Network is widely available throughout the New York metropolitan area on Time Warner Cable channel 457 (SD) and 467 (HD); Cablevision channel 143 or 412 (SD) and 793 (HD); Comcast channel 183 or 274 or 732 (SD) and 854 or 1721 (HD); Verizon FiOS channel 94; AT&T U-Verse channel 643 (SD) and 1643 (HD); RCN channel 380 (SD) and 575 (HD); Mediacom channel 171 (SD) and 762 (HD); Service Electric TV channel 114 or 176 (SD) and 614 or 676 (HD); and Blue Ridge Cable TV channel 204 (SD) and 629 (HD).  For more information, including a full programming schedule, go to

Esiason, who quarterbacked the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals during a 14-year NFL career, joined CBS Sports in February 2002 as a studio analyst for THE NFL TODAY, the CBS Television Network’s NFL pre-game show.  In addition to hosting WFAN-AM/FM New York’s morning program, Esiason can be heard providing commentary on CBS Sports Radio as part of the network’s “CBS Sports Minute” feature, and calls Monday Night Football, Playoff and Super Bowl broadcasts for WestwoodOne.

The four-time Pro Bowl selection was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1988 and awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 1995 for his philanthropic work.  He has raised in excess of $100 million for the Boomer Esiason Foundation to fight cystic fibrosis since 1993, when his son was diagnosed with the disease.

Radio veteran Carton, who interned at WFAN during college, has spent more than 20 years in the broadcast industry working for various stations around the country, including notable stops in Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Denver, New York and New Jersey, before coming full-circle and returning to his hometown to co-host WFAN’s morning show.

During the course of his seasoned radio career he has been recognized by numerous publications including the National Association of Broadcasters, Cynopsis, Philadelphia magazine and Talkers, as well as ranking on’s Power List of New Jersey’s most politically influential personalities, during his time hosting afternoons at NJ 101.5.  Carton serves as the voice of the passionate New York sports fan, while providing comic relief, and getting behind some of the biggest sports stories in the tri-state area.  In 2013, he released his first book, Loudmouth.



Russo on Francesa: ‘Mike is smarter than this, to be duped by A-Rod’

That’s two back pages in a row for sports talk radio in the New York Daily News. Naturally, Bob Raissman gets Chris Russo’s reaction to Mike Francesa’s interview with ARod:

Even the Dog is hard-pressed to explain why his former WFAN partner is so infatuated with Alex Rodriguez, why he’s become the man’s top chef in charge of soft-boiled questions.

“I can’t understand. Mike is smarter than this, to be duped by A-Rod and fall into this trap,” Dog barked over the telephone Thursday. “This is the guy you’re going to defend — A-Rod? He knows A-Rod did steroids. What do you think, Mike’s stupid? He knows.”

And there’s this:

Francesa is on a crusade. He’s trying to convince the Free World Rodriguez has been singled out for cruel and unusual punishment by Bud Selig, who he claims is the mastermind behind MLB’s “persecution” of Rodriguez.

“And I know Mike doesn’t like Selig,” said Russo, who has a long-strong relationship with the commissioner. Is that good enough reason for Francesa to throw A-Rod a Bootlicker’s Ball disguised as an interview? Reason enough to ignore the most obvious of questions while poor, picked-upon Alex displayed his defiant side?

“I know Mike is down on baseball. (He calls) Selig a used car salesman. Fair point. Fair opinion. I don’t have a problem with that,” Russo said. “But for Mike to go down this path constantly with A-Rod when he knows deep down A-Rod is a cheat — he knows it.”


New York Daily News headline: ‘Mike & The Mad Fraud’

The New York Daily News had their take on Mike Francesa’s interview with ARod.

Bob Raissman also wasn’t impressed with the interview.

“I’ve been supporting your side of the story here, not on the evidence whether you’ve done it of not, because I have no idea,” Francesa said. “I thought the other stuff (charges) was a clear witch hunt. You have been discredited and it’s been outrageous. That I saw with my own eyes.”

Now, the YES camera was not on A-Rod. He probably was smiling. He had landed on the marshmallow Francesa provided, a feather bed befitting a featherweight interview. The Pope had to be laughing inside. His “kindness” wound up getting him access to a biggie, one that produced ratings and drove the competition a bit nuts.



Francesa on ARod interview: ‘Asked him every hard question’

Some shows are more memorable than others. Mike Francesa isn’t likely to forget his show Wednesday.

Neil Best of Newsday talked to the WFAN host about his surprise guest: Alex Rodriguez. Francesa said he received 20-minutes notice that the shamed Yankee was on his way to the studio after abruptly walking out of a hearing. By the interview, the interview was simulcast on the Yankees’ YES Network also airs Francesa’s show.

From the story:

There were times the tone got a tad chummier than it needed to, but the questions and answers were to the point.

“I felt like I asked him every hard question you could possibly ask him,” Francesa said in a phone interview after the show. “I don’t think there’s anything I could ask him about that wasn’t asked.”

Francesa knows he still will be accused by some of offering Rodriguez an overly friendly forum, but he said he is not bothered by that.

“When you’re the big guy and have been the big guy as long as I have, you’re going to get it from every angle; I’m used to that,” he said, adding Rodriguez presumably chose him because of his large audience, because the two have known each other for many years and because A-Rod believed he would get a fair hearing.

Later, Best writes:

“I was surprised how keyed up he was; I could tell he was really angry,” Francesa said. “He almost started to cry the first time he started to talk. I could see his eyes welling up . . . His lip was quivering and I actually thought he was going to cry. But he looked me in the eye every time.”

Francesa said there were no preconditions, and that he only preplanned one aspect of the interview in his own mind.

“If he gave me an opening I was going to go for what I knew was the headline, which is, did you or did you not use performance-enhancing drugs?” Francesa said. “When he answered so definitively and boldly the first time and didn’t dodge it at all, I knew it would be a very open topic.”

Stay tuned for more on how the New York Daily News covered the interview.





Mariotti to fill in for Jay Mohr on Fox Sports Radio today and Friday

The Jay Mariotti comeback tour moves to Fox Sports Radio.

Mariotti will sit in for Jay Mohr on his noon-3 p.m. ET show today and Friday. In an email, he said he was contacted by Clear Channel about handling the fill-in duties.

“I like the brand and what they’re doing with it,” Mariotti said.

After being mostly on the sidelines since 2010 following a highly publicized legal incident, Mariotti jumped back in this summer with his own site, The site features a daily web-based radio show, videos and Mariotti columns on everything and anything.

Fox Sports Radio gives the polarizing Mariotti, a former panelist on ESPN’s Around the Horn, his biggest platform in recent years. Will it be a one-time test drive, or will it lead more of Mariotti on Fox Sports Radio?

As they say, stay tuned.


Dino Costa: I will make my next employer look brilliant for placing faith in me

Richard Deitsch of received an email from Dino Costa. I received one from Costa that was a bit more colorful. Let’s just leave it that.

Costa has been upset with me for not letting him tell his side of why he was dismissed from Sirius/XM.

So in the interest of being fair, here is what he wrote Deitsch:

“I enjoyed my time with SXM for the five years I was with them,” Costa said, in an email. “We had philosophical differences in regard to the my placement in terms of being a featured personality, as I believed I had earned by my work the opportunity for advancement with the appropriate promotional vehicles enjoyed by others on the air at the company. After five years of needle-moving radio, accruing consistent critical acclaim, I chafed at the idea of them placing my show on an irrelevant channel [SiriusXM Sports Zone] during a time that basically wiped out half the audience I had built the previous five years, and then not going about the transfer in a way that would allow my listener base to know where I was…The show was a core asset that I felt was never fully polished by SXM brass, which would have allowed the show to become an even larger asset for SXM.”

Costa said he is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get back on the air. “I will make my next employer look brilliant for placing the faith in me, and then allowing me to go out and to justify that faith,” he said. “I’d like to be involved with a set of creative and innovative people moving forward — individuals who like to think outside the box — people who recognize the need for sports radio that isn’t the same old same old.”

OK, who wants to look brilliant? More to come, I’m sure.