Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem spends morning discussing n-word YouTube audio clip
Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem pushed back this morning on air against suggestions that audio on YouTube of him using the n-word might reveal racism, spending much of his show insisting he had been unfairly depicted through clips stolen by a former employee.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that an audio clip on YouTube featured Clem using the n-word twice while recording a profanity-filled commercial for Vermont Teddy Bears. Clem said on Wednesday the clip was edited together from other sound samples and unfairly presented to make him look racist.
In a statement later quoted by St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10, the shock jock criticized the publicizing of “outtakes where me and my African American friends were cutting up and having fun in the studio in private.”
On his radio show this morning, Clem amplified his earlier explanation, saying “that’s the way men talk…it was me and a couple of my boys screwing around.” Later he noted “ I didn’t drop the n-bomb by making fun of a black guy. I was talking about a black guy possibly having sex with your woman.”
A reporter from WTSP stood outside Clem’s Tampa studio this morning, recording an interview with Broderick Epps -- known as 25 Cent on air – an African American member of the show’s on air crew who defended his boss.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday, Epps also offered similar thoughts, saying “That (clip) is the farthest thing from what Bubba really is,” said Epps. “Bubba can be many things, but a racist he’s not.”
The audio appeared on YouTube Saturday, featuring Clem voicing a profane version of an advertisement for Vermont Teddy Bears. During the advertisement, which lists different types of toys a man could give to his girlfriend, he touts a “jungle fever bear” to be given when a woman has sex with a “n-----.”
Moments later, he references a woman having sex with a “n------…Kunta Kinte style.” Critics of Clem have circulated links to the audio over Twitter and social media outlets for days, saying the audio is proof that the shock jock is racist.
But Clem denied the allegation, insisting he never said the words as they appear in the audio on YouTube, pointing out spots in the audio where he believed edits were placed. He said the sound likely came from his days working at Clear Channel-owned WXTB-FM (97.9 98 Rock), where he was fired in 2004. His morning show now airs from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Cox Radio’s WHPT-FM (102.5 The Bone).
As noted in the previous Times story, William Brown, a longtime area broadcast engineer and former chair of the Society of Broadcast Engineers' Tampa chapter, said the YouTube clip didn't sound heavily edited when he listened to it. (Messages through YouTube to the account which posted the audio, credited to a Thomas Curry, were not returned).
This morning, Clem took phone calls from non-white fans who complimented him and denounced the issue. The shock jock also mentioned moments when he helped people of color on his show, including an incident when he defended a group of African American women whose kickball games were shut down by the City of Tampa (full disclosure: I also appeared on his show to discuss my book about race and media, Race-Baiter).
Rival radio personality Orlando Davis tweeted a link to the YouTube clip, writing “Apparently since Bubbles paid for black kickballers to play (HiS WoRDs, this am) he's not racist!" Supporters and critics of Clem have traded messages in social media over the issue.
Click here to hear the audio clip; be warned, the language is seriously Not Suitable for Work