Bubba the Love Sponge Returns, Settling Old Scores
As I type this, I'm sitting in the shock jock's custom-built studio in Tampa, complete with leather covered couches, beer-filled soda machine and a torture rack. We're about 90 minutes into his return to terrestrial radio -- broadcast now on 102.5 The Bone -- and already he's insulted rival jock Todd "MJ" Schnitt, interviewed Howard Stern and compared your truly to portly American Idol judge Randy Jackson. (These top two photos were taking this morning by crack Times photog Ken Helle; click on them to enlarge)
A host of local media has crowded into Clem's cramped broadcast studio, including reporters from WTVT-Ch. 13, WTSP-Ch. 10, WFTS-Ch. 28 and Bay News 9. NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 also sent a camera and the Tampa Tribune is expected to show soon.
Clem kicked off the show at 6 a.m. railing about a column by Florida Family Association head David Caton, the area activist who consistently complained to advertisers about the content of his show when the shock jock was on air in the Tampa area.
Now, he's shaking up the local radio scene in a historic arrangement, offering a morning show on 102.5 The Bone in Tampa and a Cox Radio station in Jacksonsonville and presenting a more explicit evening show for Sirius radio on satellite. These days, he gets up at 4 a.m. -- though Clem admits nervousness got him up at 2:30 a.m. this morning -- and expects to get home around 8 p.m.
"I feel good that Bubba's making a living...(but) I hate like hell that he's got to do two shows a day," Stern said, calling into the show from his New York studios. "At least, you know your marriage will last."
Later, Bubba told Stern that both Cox Radio and Sirius have demanded that he refrain from talking about the other company during his shows -- a rule backed by cash fines. But when Stern decides to call in, rules go out the window. As I write this now, Clem has welcomed friendly rival Orlando from WLLD- FM, interviewing him on air about their combined competition with Schnitt, and appearing on WLLD's air with Orlando moments later.
"It's a party...we're welcoming you back," said Orlando. "To see you come back is a good thing for us."
Schnitt and Clem's former employer Clear Channel emerged as the butt of most jokes this morning, amid claims that Schnitt betrayed his former on air partner B.J. to emerge as the sole star of his WFLZ-FM morning show. But Clem has managed to keep it relatively clean, no strippers, sex humor or boar killing involved.
"I got to apologize -- the regular shows won't be this cumbersome," Clem told listeners. "But I got a ton of media here, and I'm feeling like I got shot out of a cannon. I'm a little nervous, but we're back."