The Canessa Commentary
By KEVIN CANESSA Jr.
Feb. 1, 2013 —— PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. ——
There will be some who see this piece and think: “You’re defending a man whose political views are nowhere near yours, and you’re also defending a man who is not all that fond of the man whose show you contribute to in South Florida.
Truth be told, I couldn’t care less about his politics, nor his on-going battles with Sid Rosenberg right now. Because the bottom line, on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, is that Dino Costa, of Sirius-XM’s Mad Dog Radio, is getting the rawest of raw deals from his company right now — and to get that raw deal, Dino did absolutely nothing — nothing — wrong.
Dino is a smart man. He knows very well how popular he is among sports-talk radio junkies — and among subscribers to Sirius-XM. He’s very well aware that he brings to the table a shit-ton of subscribers. And Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, sadly, is often the last one to realize this.
Enter a few days ago.
Dino decided he’d take a capitalistic shot — and offer his “services,” — by being willing to go to anyone’s Super Bowl party on Sunday, Feb. 3, if the bid was right and if the party hosts were willing to foot the bill for airfare, lodging, transport and accommodations.
The starting bid — a very reasonable $500.
You win? You get to have one of the nation’s premiere sports-talk radio hosts in your home (or wherever the party is to take place) to watch the biggest game on the sports calendar.
Quite reasonable, I’d say.
|Dino Costa, seen here, has been suspended by Sirius-XM for doing, well, absolutely nothing.|
Thing is — the bids didn’t stop at $500.
In fact, the winning bid came in at a whopping $3,500 US — and so on Saturday, Feb. 2, Dino would be on his way to Las Vegas, where the winning bidder’s party was to take place.
He’d watch the game with a group of people. And, once it was over, he’d be on his way back to Wyoming — his beloved home state.
Simple enough, eh?
But here’s where the proverbial shit hit the fan.
Last night — Thursday, Jan. 31, about a half-hour before he’s to go on the air (his show is from 7 to 11 p.m. ET), he gets a call from Steve Torre (those of you in the Jersey-New York area will remember Torre from his days anchoring sports on 1010-WINS), the programming director of MDR, who says Dino’s being suspended, forthwith and indefinitely, because he “accepted some money from a fan in Las Vegas to go to his Super Bowl party” — and because he ran a “contest.”
Plain and simple.
In addition to the fee, Dino gets airfare, hotel and car service paid for.
This is hardly atypical of anyone paid to appear at an engagement.
And it’s hardly the first time a sports-talk radio host has been paid for an appearance. Certainly not the last. But for some reason, the suits at Sirius-XM — including Torre (and likely Russo, too), equate this, somehow, to “Payola,” a troubling radio term.
Let’s make this clear from the outset — this is not even close to Payola.
For it to be Payola, Dino would have had to have accepted the $3,500 personally, only to go on the air to promote a business or entity without permission from the higher-ups.
In no way is this happening. Not even close.
The party he’s going to?
Its connection to a business or money-maker?
The promotional value on the air?
It’s not like listeners would now have a chance to pay to go to the party. Instead, the party is still for the bidder — and his friends — only.
Yet somehow, the suits deduced that this is “Payola?”
I’ve been in the media for 21 years now, and this is as insane a suggestion as I’ve heard from radio executives — period. It tops the absurdity shown when Don Imus was thrown off the air over the Rutgers fiasco. The absurdity of it all trumps anything I’ve seen in radio in recent — or, for that matter, historical memory.
And here’s what they’re missing at Sirius-XM.
If Dino can command $3,500 just to go to a fu**king Super Bowl party, could you imagine, on the market, what he’d command to be a speaker? To give a commencement address? To do live reads?
And if his fans were willing to dole out this kind of money just for him to sit there and cheer — there were plenty of losing bids, too — could you imagine what he’d bring to the capitalistic table were they to use his skills properly to grow the Sirius-XM brand?
And see, that’s precisely what they DON’T do at Sirius-XM. They fail to realize how much he could bring back to the company if they simply would allow him to.
Instead, they suspend him indefinitely.
Think of it this way — let’s just say when he goes to this Super Bowl party there are 100 people there, 14 of whom are Sirius-XM subscribers. I don’t know about you — but were I at that party, and I met a celeb there who was on satellite radio, the chances are good I’d probably subscribe to listen to him.
Perhaps that’s too simplistic a way to look at this.
But it’s capitalism at its finest, its purest.
And he’s being punished for this?
I could understand there being intense outrage from Steve Torre, Chris Russo and other suits at Sirius-XM if Dino were to have accepted this money only to offer some sort of free advertising for a business, product, service or commodity.
But that’s not the case here.
Not even close.
And by doing this, Sirius-XM is setting a horrendous precedent, one it won’t be able to recover from unless it comes out, apologizes and gets Costa back on the air (quickly).
This is not payola. Not one bit.
And if intelligent people were really behind the scenes at Sirius-XM, not only would Dino not have been suspended, he would have been in line for a company commendation and/or bonus of some sort.
If there are people in the world willing to pay for a person’s presence at their gig — and so long as there’s no quid-pro-quo behind it — it’s perfectly legal.
And it’s frankly great business.
Instead, what we’ve got here is a radio host suspended for, well, quite frankly, doing nothing illegal or immoral. We’ve got a man in Dino who could very well have left Wyoming with a set number of listeners and subscribers, only to come back with significantly more listeners and subscribers.
And he’s been punished for it.
You can agree or disagree with his views on sports or politics. Lord knows I vehemently disagree with Dino’s stances on everything from President Obama to same-gender marriage to abortion to Sid Rosenberg (but rarely do we disagree on sports, including a mutual love for the New Jersey Devils — even if his has dissipated).
But what has happened here is an absurdity.
And Sirius-XM needs to reverse course soon.
Because if it doesn’t, if the suits were concerned about the dwindling numbers of subscribers before this incident, they’ll be shitting their pants soon, once people start bolting because their favorite show isn’t on the air between 7 and 11 p.m. Eastern Time.
And quite frankly, that would be about the only thing — aside from reversing the suspension — that would do any justice here whatsoever.