Advertisement
  1. Business

Bubba the Love Sponge is off the Tampa Bay airwaves

Bubba the Love Sponge Clem is seen on Twitch TV during his broadcast on May 17, 2019. [Photo from video]
Published May 17

TAMPA — For the third time this decade, the voice of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, one of Tampa Bay's most notorious radio bad boys, has been cleared from the local morning airwaves.

Clem on Thursday announced he was unable to negotiate a contract with WHBO-AM 1040, which has aired his 6 to 10 a.m. morning show since February.

‪"Myself and am1040 couldn't come up with a deal today," he wrote on Facebook, "starting tomorrow (Friday) Tampa area listeners please listen via www.BubbaArmy.com or www.twitch.tv/TheBubbaArmy."

On Friday's broadcast, Bubba said he would now focus on growing a digital audience on Twitch, YouTube and TuneIn, until a "sexy" station in the Tampa market came along. He said the program is "almost self-sufficient digitally alone."

"I'm fine with their decision," he said of WHBO's management. "It's just going to make me work harder in Tampa, and that's a good thing. ... The old Bubba would have said I was coming back to bury them and all that. But this is the new Bubba. I wish them all the best."

Then he tuned over to AM 1040 live to listen to his replacement, which he labeled "angry white guy New Jersey sports radio."

The announcement comes a month after foreclosure suits were filed against Clem for his Tampa broadcast studio and his Ocala racetrack. In the suits, Valley National Bank claims Clem owes $94,373 on the property and the studio foreclosure comes following a $77,510 judgment filed against Clem last year over a credit default.

Despite the legal trouble, Clem responded to the story on the Tampa Bay Times Facebook page vowing he would not give up.

"Yes, I've made plenty of mistakes, most of which I'm paying for dearly," he wrote." I will not give up. I will not quit. I will walk into whatever I have left for a studio and do a show that is better than anything that's currently available in most places.''

Records also show Clem owes the Internal Revenue Service more than $140,000 in taxes. He also sold his waterfront Pinellas County home for $1.285 million in March.

ALSO READ: What happened to Bubba the Love Sponge?

Abrupt departures have become somewhat of a norm for Clem. In 2014, he was suddenly let go from 102.5 the Bone and replaced by his former intern-turned shock jock in his own right, Mike Calta. Earlier this year, Clem filed suit against Cox Media, which owns the Bone, and Calta, his chief radio rival, claiming they conspired to personally defame him and ruin his career.

After the Bone, Clem went to WBRN-FM 98.7 in January 2015, but was let go in December 2016 after Nielsen sued him over a ratings-tampering scandal dating back to his Bone days. He then joined the am1040 family in February 2017, bringing his morning show to WWBA-AM 820.

Clem first came to the bay area in 1992 and, after switching to an all-talk shock jock style, and eventually became the biggest name in Tampa radio. In 2004 he was fired from Tampa's 98 Rock, where he had the market's top-rated morning show, after accruing a record-setting $755,000 fine. But by 2005 he was a darling of Howard Stern and had a nationally syndicated terrestrial radio show and an uncensored one on Sirius XM satellite radio.

His star status hasn't come without controversy.

In 2002, he was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty after allowing a wild hog to be castrated and slaughtered in the 98 Rock parking lot, but he was found not guilty. Then there was the controversial Gawker leak of a sex tape featuring Clem's then wife Heather having sex with famed wrestler Hulk Hogan. Hogan is also suing Cox and Calta over the leak, claiming they were responsible for it in a vendetta against Clem.

There was also his feud with Todd Schnitt, another local radio personality, in which Clem's lawyers were accused of setting up Schnitt's lawyer, C. Phillip Campbell, to be arrested for drunk driving. As a result, a police officer was fired and Clem attorney Stephen Diaco, along with two other lawyers, were permanently disbarred.

Recently, Clem was back in the spotlight over decade-old comments Tucker Carlson made on his show that were said to be misogynistic and homophobic.

Fans, dubbed the Bubba Army, appear to remain supportive of Clem.

"In my opinion, this is great news," a Facebook user commented on Clem's announcement. "Public radio sucks and has been holding Bubba Clem back for years. I'll gladly pay to listen. I listen via Twitch every day here in Orlando. I've been listening since '96. I'm not going anywhere."

Staff writers Susan Taylor Martin and Christopher Spata contributed to this report.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at dfigueroa@tampabay.com. Follow @danuscripts.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. This Jan. 31, 2017 photo shows the entrance to SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. JOHN RAOUX  |  AP
    Gustavo “Gus” Antorcha cited a “difference of approach.”
  2. Gas prices could surge over the coming days because of a sharp drop in Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Pictured is a man filling up his car. | [Times file photo]
    A weekend drone strike on an oil processing facility caused the kingdom to cut production in half.
  3. TECO Peoples Gas ranked highest among its peers in the South for J.D. Power customer satisfaction rankings. Pictured is the company's headquarters in Tampa in 2017. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times (2017)] URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    It ranked as the top utility for customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the south.
  4. How do I pay back $80K in student loans on a $42K salary? GRADYREESE  |  Getty Images
    Pace yourself. There’s a lot to balance.
  5. Hernando County community news Tara McCarty
    News and notes on local businesses
  6. Holland America says the cruise ship Veendam, shown here at the dock in Tampa in 2005, will return to Port Tampa Bay from November 2020 through April 2021. (Times files) GOETHE, THOMAS M.  |  St. Petersburg Times
    The cruise line dropped Tampa in the spring, but said it might be back.
  7. United Auto Workers members picket outside the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Hamtramck, Mich., early Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. Roughly 49,000 workers at General Motors plants in the U.S. planned to strike just before midnight Sunday, but talks between the UAW and the automaker will resume. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) PAUL SANCYA  |  AP
    Workers shut down 33 manufacturing plants in nine states across the U.S., as well as 22 parts distribution warehouses.
  8. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is the centerpiece of Project Arthur, an 800-acre corporate park that could include up 24 million square feet of office and industrial space on nearly 7,000 acres of what is now ranch land, but targeted for development in central Pasco. Times
    The H. Lee Moffitt facility is the centerpiece of an economic development effort in a proposed 800-acre corporate park.
  9. The inside of the former American Baptist Church of Beatitudes, located at 801 28th Ave N, is seen on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. The church is being converted into a three-bedroom home.  ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Three property owners seek approval to landmark their properties: a closed school, a former church and a house built by noted St. Petersburg architect William B. Harvard
  10. Bubba's 33 recently broke ground on its first restaurant in Florida, which will open in Wesley Chapel in December. Pictured, left to right: Experience Florida's Sports Coast (Tourism) Director Adam Thomas, Bubba's 33 marketing director Crista Demers-Dean, Bubba's 33 managing partner Jeff Dean, Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and North Tampa Bay Chamber CEO Hope Allen. Andy Taylor
    News and notes on local businesses
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement