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Online With No Bosses and No Rules: It’s The Anthony Cumia Show

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Anthony Cumia has said goodbye to radio. Fans can now hear him—and see him—online.

Cumia enjoyed a 20-year career in talk radio as part of The Opie and Anthony Show, but he and his fans knew it had to end sometime. Cumia and partner Gregg “Opie” Hughes had a knack for getting fired and a talent for attracting negative press. Before finding a home on SiriusXM satellite radio, they’d been let go from stations in Boston and New York City.

The end of The Opie and Anthony Show came this July. While shooting pictures late one night in Times Square, Cumia got into an argument with a woman who didn’t want to be photographed. The outspoken Cumia tweeted some angry messages about the confrontation, which then got reported in the press. Before long, Cumia was out of a job.

But getting fired has always seemed to work out for Cumia. This time, he’s back with a subscription online video show and he’s doing better than ever. He turned his online video hobby into a job and it’s paying off. What’s more, he launched his show only weeks after his firing from SiriusXM. It’s a move that not many could pull off, but Cumia makes it look easy.

The Video Studio in the Basement

The reason The Anthony Cumia Show was able to go online so quickly is because Cumia had been streaming online video for years. A technology fan, Cumia created a professional video studio in the basement of his Long Island home years ago and occasionally streamed live shows.

“Like the guy that built the bomb shelter back during the Cold War, I had been building a studio in my house for the past 4 or 5 years, kind of knowing at some point I’d probably use it fulltime,” Cumia says. “I’ve always been interested in broadcasting and wanted to do my own thing even though I had the radio show with Opie. I would always go out on my own and do something at night or on the weekends that I would call Live From the Compound and do a show from that studio.”

While Cumia had invested a substantial amount of money in his basement studio, it turned out to be a wise decision.

“Thank God I did because when I got the boot from SiriusXM I was able to just get servers and be able to feed that show out to the public without having to start from scratch and build an entire studio,” Cumia says. “I already had it built. It was kind of hobby thing and I’d been interested in broadcasting for so many years that I wanted to have some type of home studio. It’s a good thing I did because I was able to get it up and running in record time, as they say.”

Cumia makes his basement look like a full broadcast studio with the help of chroma key and virtual sets from NewTek.

Anyone else in the same position would have to build a home studio from scratch, then learn how to operate it. Cumia had spent years growing and learning about his studio. At the heart of it is a NewTek TriCaster.

“It was a trial-and-error kind of thing over the course of years. I would buy a few things, see what worked. A lot of stuff ended up in my garage,” Cumia says. “I got more educated and realized what I needed, and was able to streamline things a lot more without all of the other stuff laying around and having 10 miles of wires and everything else. I learned a lot about the type of cameras that I would need. And, of course, the TriCaster obviously was the key to the whole thing after I did a lot of research on video switching devices. That was the one that really just was perfect for what I was looking for.”

One TriCaster feature Cumia makes heavy use of is the ability to create virtual sets. Thanks to NewTek, Cumia seems to be sitting in a network studio when he’s only in his basement.

“Initially I had wanted to work with green screen and with some kind of virtual set behind me. I went out to B&H and got a green screen and really didn’t know much about green screening and the lighting that’s involved. It’s an art more than science in a lot of cases. Over the course of a few years I realized, ‘Oh let me paint the wall some kind of pea green instead of having a screen,’” Cumia says. “The keying with the NewTek TriCaster is amazing. You really can get a great key with minimal effort. To be able to add to the show by putting myself in any location—it could be pretty funny popping yourself into places, have a video running behind you and put yourself in the scene. Or have a professional-looking news set and be sitting there having a few beers. It looks so professional that people watching go, ‘Why does this guy have this incredible set sitting there spouting off about something and drinking beer?’”

“Anthony is using TriCaster 455 for his show,” says Philip Nelson, the chief relationship officer at NewTek and a Streaming Media conference regular. “He is in the process of upgrading to a TriCaster 460.”

Being tech-savvy, Cumia started working with a TriCaster without any assistance from the company. Nelson found out Cumia was using NewTek equipment when Cumia began publicly praising it in 2012. After that, Nelson reached out to him over Twitter.

“Virtual sets are something that can make any small space and green screen look like a million-dollar television studio,” Nelson says. “Before TriCaster they were only available to people with deep pockets. NewTek brought this elite, high-production value technology to anyone who owns a TriCaster. We now have holographic virtual sets which allows you to import a panoramic photo from a smart phone into TriCaster and use it as a 3D virtual set.”

Cumia has been such a fan of the TriCaster that he’s become an evangelist, winning over at least one other celebrity.

“Anthony was publicly calling for Charlie Sheen to up his production value on ‘Sheen’s Corner’ and use a TriCaster,” Nelson says. “On the final episode, they did move to a multi-cam TriCaster setup and Anthony tweeted ‘TriCaster is so good that it made Charlie Sheen look sane.’”

“It’s astounding what’s available to the consumer these days, stuff that just a few years ago was only available to pros,” Cumia says.

Cumia doesn’t limit himself to his basement studio. On a nice day he’ll talk to guests out by the pool.

Anthony Cumia was able to launch an online show quickly after his firing from SiriusXM in part because he already had a studio set up in his basement.

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