Bubba the Love Sponge Scores Big Ratings on His Return
When Bubba the Love Sponge Clem first returned to local free commercial "terrestrial" radio in January, he promised two things: that he wouldn’t repeat the same kind of explicit material that got him fired from the dial four years ago, and that he would eclipse rival Todd "MJ" Schnitt in short order.
Following release of ratings from the first full measurement period since his show’s Jan. 8 debut on WHPT-102.5 FM (The Bone), it seems Clem has accomplished both goals, turning employer Cox Radio into a bigger player among area rock radio stations in the process.
According to figures supplied by WHPT and confirmed by the Arbitron ratings service, Clem scored top ratings from Jan. 10 to April 2 among several age groups attractive to advertisers, including: age 12 and older, ages 18 to 34, and ages 25 to 54. In most categories, he tripled or quadrupled ratings from a year ago, bringing a new audience to WHPT's morning show.
"The market just readjusted to where it was before I left," said Clem, who had the top-rated morning show on Clear Channel-owned WXTB-97.9 FM (98Rock) four years ago, when he was fired after incurring a $755,000 indecency fine from the government.
Schnitt declined to comment Monday on the ratings, hanging up his cellphone in mid-conversation.
Clem has earned loads of media attention this year — relentlessly criticizing the decision of Mark Lunsford to sue the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office over the investigation into the disappearance, rape and murder of his 9-year-old daughter Jessica. More headlines came when Schnitt sued Clem, alleging that comments critical of him aired on WHPT were false and defamatory.
One industry expert said the numbers may just show listeners’ initial curiosity about Clem.
"The interesting thing will be to see if this continues into the next ratings book and the next," said Ken Tucker, radio editor for the trade magazine Radio and Records. "Right now, this is potentially the biggest audience he’ll ever have."
Clem disagreed. "The Bone has never been a major player in this market, now they are," he said. "I’ve never done this well, this fast."
Here's the ratings figures:
Morning Drive M-F 6a-10a
All numbers here are ratings shares: the percentage of people listening to radio at the time.
Adults ages 12 and over
1. WHPT (The Bone) 9.5
2. WFLZ (93-3 FLZ) 8.1
3. WDUV (The Dove) 7.0
4. WBTP (The Beat) 6.6
5. WFLA-AM (Newsradio 970) 6.5
Adults ages 18-34
1. WHPT 18.5
2. WLLD (Wild 98.7) 10.8
3. WFLZ 10.6
4. WBTP 7.3
5. WSUN 5.6
Adults ages 25-54
1. WHPT 14.0
2. WFLZ 10.1
3. WBTP 8.4
4. WQYK 4.6
5. WFLA-AM 4.3