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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge leaves Sirius XM for Internet radio

4

January

bubba_the_love_sponge.jpgHe insists this is no fallback position or secondary strategy.

But Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem admits he is taking a chance, establishing his own suite of Internet radio channels after talks to continue his show on Sirius XM satellite radio broke down.

Clem said Monday there remained an outside chance that Sirius star Howard Stern, a longtime friend, might push the company into crafting a new deal with him. But currently his name and programming are off the channel which has been his home since 2006 -- back when no traditional radio company would hire a button-pushing personality fired by Clear Channel after earning a $755,000 federal fine.

Five years later, Clem is in a decidedly different space, accusing Sirius of "lowballing" him in renewal negotiations while finalizing plans to create a new online space for his programs with the service Radio IO. Clem told the Hollywood Reporter that Sirius asked him to reduce his pay from $1-million annually to $200,000; he accused them of penny-pinching the radio talent to fun deals with big celebrities such as Jaime Foxx and Oprah Winfrey.

Starting Monday, fans can head to Clem's area on RadioIO.com and hear a live stream of the morning show he hosts for Cox Radio station WHPT-FM (The Bone 102.5), with rebroadcasts at noon and 7 p.m. Clem also plans music channels programmed by each of his sidekicks, an uncensored, Internet-only midday show, access to archives of his programs stretching back to his Clear Channel days and an iPhone app allowing listening through mobile devices.

radioio_logo.jpgThe site will be free for all until March 1, when Clem will split the service into free and paid content. With fees ranging from $9.99 to $12.99 monthly, the shock jock hopes to mirror Stern's approach on satellite radio on a new platform, cutting out the middleman by selling his radio content directly to fans (all of which is separate from the explicit videos Clem makes available on BubbaRaw.com for $9.99 a month).

"It's a scary time for personality-based radio...talk radio is a dying breed," said Clem, who blamed new ratings-gathering technologies for pushing stations into playing more music and downplaying talk. "I'm betting on myself in a big way...I'm not going to answer to anybody."

bubbathelovespongeshow.jpgClem also criticized current employer Cox Radio for not spending money to promote his terrestrial show, which still earns high ratings in the Tampa area, but has struggled in markets like Miami. In a disclosure that sounded a little like negotiating by media, Clem announced he might walk away from Cox when his deal with them ends next year, if the RadioIO venture works.

When asked how much money he might make online, Clem noted that the free RadioIO streaming drew 42,000 unique visitors Monday. If half of them bought a $9.99 membership, he could generate more than $200,000 in monthly fees through the service, where his agent Thomas Bean, serves as CEO. "Nobody has been able to monetize Internet radio yet," Clem said. "But the first one in, usually makes the most money, and I'm the only self-contained show around. Sirius set me up perfectly for this pay template."

The shock jock has constantly experimented with moving his brand to other platforms, taping a TV show pilot last summer and spending time as a ringside announcer in pal Hulk Hogan's wrestling venture with Spike TV. But with new studios under construction in Tampa, Clem seems poised to make a move significant as the day he first started broadcasting with Sirius, taking control of distribution for his show in a new way.

[Last modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 8:42am]

    

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