“Why did you call Chris Russo a ‘Has been’ on his own show?” I said to Dino Costa. “Most people wouldn’t do that.”
“Well, you’re right,” Costa replied. “I’m not most people.”
You won’t get much argument on that point, especially from Russo. He is a regular target on the Dino Costa Show, which airs evenings from 7-11 p.m. on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio.
Yes, it is Russo’s station, making Costa’s diatribes against him seem even more bizarre. It came to a peak of sorts a few weeks ago. Costa was irate that Russo didn’t defend him when a caller on Russo’s show labeled Costa as “a racist.”
The following day, Costa appeared on Russo’s show to air things out, but the conversation didn’t last long. Costa started by calling Russo a “has been,” and it deteriorated from there.
Costa’s volley insulted Russo’s fans, who called to demand that he get rid of him. Russo, though, replied with his standard stance. Despite what Costa might say about him, Russo thinks he is a talented host.
“He’s compelling,” said Russo many times on the air. By the way, Russo did not take me up on my invitation to discuss Costa and Mad Dog Radio.
There’s no denying Costa has been good for Russo’s and Mad Dog Radio’s business, attracting considerable attention for a non-prime time radio slot. Costa thinks he deserves a bigger and better platform. Perhaps even a The Dino Channel. Not surprisingly, he isn’t shy about talking about it.
“I’m not content to be under the Mad Dog umbrella for a much longer period of time,” Costa said. “I want to do my own thing.”
In part 2 of our interview, Costa discusses Russo and his future on SiriusXM.
It’s a professional relationship. We do two different styles of radio. Chris does his show the way that is effective for him. I do a show that is effective for what I do. That’s where it begins and that’s where it ends. I don’t want to talk too much about Chris.
But you talk about Russo all the time.
I will say that Chris’ transition from local radio icon to a national sports host has not been as smooth as it could have been. Often times, I question his passion and commitment to do the show, considering the major investment SiriusXM made in him. All you have to do is listen to his show. So often, he’ll say he didn’t see this or that he didn’t know that.
A lot of times I’ll try to tweak him to try to light a fire underneath him. To try to get him to dig deeper to provide a show that is more compelling than it is.
He’s taken shots at me. Each one of us believes we bring certain value to the channel.
Do you want Russo to be more like you?
You can’t make somebody they’re not. I wouldn’t expect Chris to do my kind of show the same way he can’t expect me to do his kind of show.
Chris’ personality is not like my personality. Chris has an insatiable need to be liked. If you ask Chris that, he will agree that is a representative statement. I don’t care if I’m liked. I don’t care if you loathe me. I’m doing the show for my audience, but I’m not going to allow my audience to program my show. This is my show. These are my comments. I back it up and I’ll tell you why.
Do you ever regret what you say about Russo? Was calling him a “has been” a little harsh?
Mmm. I think it was appropriate at the time I said it. You’re right, I was upset.
He does not comprehend me. He doesn’t listen to my show. He only hears snippets. The one thing I can’t stand is that when Russo hears a 15-20 second(clip) and comes to the conclusion that this is what defines me. That this is all that I’m about. He has no concept of the range and depth that I have. Quite often, he takes the word of people who are whispering in his ear about me.
If you’ve got a question, call me. Or at least take the time to listen to the damn thing before you make a comment about it.
Where do you see your show going?
The time has come to feature me in a much larger role. I’m providing a product that needs to be exploited more. I need to be vaulted to the top of the SiriusXM food chain. Frankly, there’s not another sports talk personality on the channel that can reach the listeners with the passion I have. I am big money waiting to be made by SiriusXM Radio.
Do you want an earlier time slot? More promotion. Your own channel?
Well, yes, all of those things.
(The evening hours) are not going to fit my lifestyle much longer. I have a family with two young children.
I had a SiriusXM executive tell me that I took a vast wasteland (with the evening hours) and created something that they never had before. I was happy to do it and prove myself. Clearly, I want to get to an earlier part of the day.
I would love the challenge of being sent to the worst performing channel we have. I said, ‘Give me five hours and watch what I can do there.’ If it means my own channel, fine, put my name on it. And if it doesn’t have my name on it, but it gives me the ability to create something earlier in the day, fine. I’m willing to do all of that.
I don’t think we as a company take advantage of the enormous freedom that we have. I find this incredible. Beyond my show, the most risk-taking programs aren’t the three other shows we have during the day (on Mad Dog). The most risk-taking shows are the back-ups and guys who work on the weekend. They’re more prone to push the envelope and speak their mind and not worry about somebody getting angry at them.
Do you want to leave Mad Dog Radio?
They’ve been great to me here. I couldn’t be Dino Costa with their support, and it’s been overwhelming.
There is a Mad Dog brand, and I am not emblematic of the Mad Dog brand. Quite honestly, it might be better off for them to move me to another station. Chris has had to put up with entire shows where the theme of the show is me. He’s taking complaints. ‘How do you put up with this guy?’ I feel bad for him in a certain way.
I make it clear how hungry I am to do my own thing. My commentary is often tinged with a mindset that would tell anyone, including those at SiriusXM management, I’m not content to be under the Mad Dog umbrella for a much longer period of time. I want to do my thing.
So where do you see it all going for you in the future?
I’d love to do a TV show on a network like HBO. Do something like Bill Maher does from the sports angle. I think there’s a TV show out there for me.
I’m so bullish about what’s going on at SiriusXM. There is ceiling here so high that I don’t think we can see it yet. So I’d love to be there for the next 20 years. SiriusXM would be foolish not to look at my hunger, passion and drive and not give me a more prominent role.
I love SiriusXM. I want SiriusXM to love me a little bit more.