Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem offers commentary twice a week on CBS station WTSP-Ch.10
St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 has sharpened its local news focus in recent months, led by a team that includes some of the most experienced journalists in the market.
So when the station decided to debut an occasional commentary segment on the 11 p.m. news, it turned to ... Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem?
Already making waves for his relentless criticism of top St. Petersburg administrator Goliath Davis and early reporting of details in the shooting deaths of two local police officers, Clem debuted the first of a twice-weekly commentary segment on WTSP Wednesday -- not so coincidentally appearing in the middle of February's high-profile "sweeps" ratings period (though local stations get complete ratings each day electronically, they still ramp up efforts during sweeps periods).
Clad in a black baseball cap and "Bubba's Army" jacket, Clem led a segment called "Bring It On Bubba," in which he criticized Gov. Rick Scott's decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail system between Tampa and Orlando. "I like to call him Skeletor -- idiot," Clem thundered. "This guy is about as qualified to run our state as I am the FCC."
It felt a bit like the uneasy clash of two unfamiliar media brands -- Clem, with his in-your-face, insult-laden style, airing in a newscast on the most traditional TV network, usually a home for the oldest viewers. You get the sense that both Clem and WTSP are reaching toward new audiences, but instead each might turn off core fans.
Entertaining as Clem is, WTSP probably has people on staff who could offer a more insightful or revealing analysis. It will be up to Clem and WTSP to make this segment more than a weird publicity stunt, pushing the shock jock to bring a little more substance with his bombast.