The poster boy and rising new standard bearer of our nation’s sizable Angry White Man contingent, Dino Costa, is used to courting controversy. In a tumultuous career as a shock jock radio host that has seen him be fired or quit eight jobs (and one on TV, to boot), Costa has refined a controversial but nonetheless winning formula: He takes overheated sports-talk-radio argumentativeness, infuses it with Tea Party-inspired politics (Obama is “the worst president in the history of the country”) and evangelical sermonizing (diatribes against the “gay and lesbian lifestyle”) and then adds a healthy dose of politically incorrect boundary-pushing (i.e., the NBA All-Star Game should pit white players against black). As he explains, “We all occasionally have bigoted feelings. I just talk about them.” Still there’s no denying Costa is an extraordinarily talented radio host: acerbically articulate, angrily funny, and intense to the point of mental imbalance. Here are highlights from the story in this month’s issue:
• While he’s currently enjoying success in the upper realm of the crowded sports-radio business, Costa’s penchant for getting canned from radio gigs has forced him to take work in a deli, on a cattle ranch, doing lawn care and, for six weeks between jobs in the late 1990s, he was actually homeless.
• Despite being responsible for a rigorous all-talk, four-hour daily stint, Costa does little to no preparation: no notes, no scripts, no detailed lineup of stories or topics he wants to cover.
• When he was first contacted about trying out for a spot on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Russo channel, Costa was so confident he’d get the job he packed up his entire home and drove east with his third wife and toddler son for the tryout. And then he didn’t get the gig.
• Costa’s first brush with national exposure came while covering a Denver Nuggets game, when he angrily screamed at star power forward Kenyon Martin that he should “go [expletive] himself.” True to form, Costa continues to refer to Martin as “a no class, despicable human being.”
• “To do the kind of show I demand of myself is an all-consuming undertaking,” Costa says. “Every time I take to the air, what happened yesterday is old news. 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.”
• Roger Cridlebaugh, one of a string of producers Costa has crossed, says of Costa “He trashed everybody, really personally. He’s an ass. He’s a bully.” But Cridlebaugh, a radio lifer, also calls Costa “one of the greatest radio-talk-show hosts that has ever lived.”