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Radio hosts' feud leads to lawsuit

TAMPA — Radio host Todd "MJ" Schnitt says he's had enough of the on-air mudslinging by radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

Clem has accused Schnitt of stealing money from Clear Channel and called him a "lying piece of crap," a "snitch" and a "real modern day stool pigeon." And he has repeatedly referred to Schnitt's wife as a "whore."

Clem characterized his comments as parody.

Schnitt wants a judge to decide whether Clem has crossed the line.

The MJ Morning Show host and his wife, Michelle, filed a defamation and false light lawsuit against Clem in Hillsborough County Circuit Civil Court on Monday. Also named as defendants are Cox Radio Inc., which broadcasts Clem's morning show, and Bubba Radio Network Inc.

"He has absolutely played into every aspect of me coming back and my quasi-war I have waged on him," Clem said. "What a buffoon. What an idiot."

The suit says Clem claims to be exacting revenge against Schnitt and his wife for allegedly orchestrating his prosecution after Clem broadcast the castration and slaughtering of a pig on his show.

Clem went to trial on an animal cruelty charge in 2002, and a jury acquitted him.

Schnitt was "one of the top four or five people behind our arrest and the trial of the hog deal," Clem told listeners of his show, according to the lawsuit.

Clem also accused Schnitt of having "secret meetings" at the time with Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober, the suit alleges. Michelle Schnitt is a former assistant Hillsborough state attorney who worked in the misdemeanor division.

A spokeswoman for Ober declined to comment about being mentioned in the radio disc jockeys' spat.

Schnitt is on vacation and couldn't be reached. His attorney, C. Philip Campbell Jr., did not return a call for comment. Campbell said in the court filing that Clem's statements about the Schnitts are false.

But Clem compared the things he's said about Schnitt and his wife to a Saturday Night Live or MADtv parody.

"Everything I've said about MJ is my opinion, and everything is outlandish," Clem said. "He's not a midget, and obviously he's not a snitch."

The dueling disc jockeys are no strangers to a public feud.

In 2000, when Clem's morning show aired on local Clear Channel sister station WXTB-FM 97.9 (98 Rock), an intense dislike between the men began to show. Clem reported on the air that a 500-pound Tampa man who was getting help from Schnitt's morning show to get weight-reduction surgery had once been arrested for a sexual offense.

At the time, Clem's show was No. 2 and Schnitt's was No. 1 in listener standings.

In that dispute, Schnitt said that Clem violated a Clear Channel policy not to undermine, bash, or attack a sister station. Schnitt cleaned out his office and didn't return for a week.

Clem's current morning show debuted in January and broadcasts on WHPT-FM 102.5 (the Bone) in Tampa and WFYV-FM 104.5 in Jacksonville. Schnitt's morning show airs on WFLZ-FM 93.3 and WFKS-FM 97.9 in Jacksonville. He also hosts the Schnitt Show in the afternoons on WFLA-AM 970.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Radio hosts' feud leads to lawsuit 03/19/08 [Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008 8:51pm]
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