"I'm still an ugly bastard," says Dino Costa, staring at his heavily made-up face in the mirror. He was getting ready for an appearance on the Fox News network, where he has been invited to share his views on the Penn State scandal. He is the host of 'The Dino Costa Show,' which goes out to an audience of 23 million subscribers on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio channel 86. Over the years of his tumultuous career, Costa has stumbled onto a winning formula: He takes the overheated sports-talk-radio arguing, infuses it with Tea Party–inspired politics (Obama is the "worst president in the history of the country"; Mitt Romney is an untrustworthy "fake") and evangelical sermonizing (diatribes attacking the "gay and lesbian lifestyle"); adds a healthy dose of politically incorrect boundary-pushing (Ben Roethlisberger got a bum rap on that whole raping a girl in a bar thing; the NBA All-Star Game should pit white players against black); throws in some borderline felonious ranting (to a caller on the show: "I'll put a can of WD-40 right up your ass, and you won't be squeaking the rest of your life, you rat bastard!"); and generally helped carry the Aggrieved White Man's Burden through the Great Recession of 2012. "I'm not afraid to talk about racial issues or any other issues," says Costa. "We all occasionally have bigoted feelings. I just talk about them."
Costa has been fired from or quit eight radio jobs (and one on TV) over the past decade for reasons ranging from insulting corporate sponsors to allegations of sexual harassment. Yet Costa, whose first gig in radio was doing play-by-play for the Yonkers Hoot Owls (his high school ambition was to play pro baseball), keeps getting hired. In part, that's because Costa is an extraordinarily talented radio host – acerbically articulate, angrily funny, intense to the point of mental imbalance – but also because of the outrageousness that has cost him those jobs. Costa makes Colin Cowherd or Skip Bayless, two of ESPN'S best-known Angry Male alphas, seem mild and reasonable. Compared with them, Costa is more like a militia leader broadcasting direct from Ruby Ridge under siege, an army of liberals blasting away from the other side of the barbed wire.
"To do the kind of show I demand of myself is an all-consuming undertaking," he says. "Every time I take to the air, what happened yesterday is old news. You're tuning in to Dino Costa that night to hear what he has to say that night. There isn't enough of that in radio today. The worst thing you can be in radio is predictable, and 99 percent of radio is predictable."