AM 820 star remains a radio fixture through adversity
Disclaimer: Bubba The Love Sponge currently airs on AM 820 Tampa Bay as well as 98.3 FM Pinellas County. Both are owned by News Talk Florida’s parent company, Genesis Communications.
There is something uniquely Floridian about the morning radio host known to many as Bubba The Love Sponge. Bubba, deliberately unrefined and always willing to wade into dangerous waters to find humor and entertainment, has made his career commenting on the strange, the outlandish, and the uncomfortable. The host, whose real name is Todd Clem, is also known for his charitable works. He is extremely active in supporting law enforcement organizations in particular, and this past Spring Clem purchased a dirt bike for an aspiring young rider whose bike had been stolen from his family’s garage.
For the last few years, headlines involving the Tampa-based show host have not been funny or flattering. Clem was sued by Nielsen Audio stemming from an alleged ratings manipulation incident in October of 2015, a case that never actually came to trial but spent multiple years being delayed until it was put to rest this Summer. Yet the biggest, and most unflattering news, had to do with his involvement in the lawsuits between wrestling icon Hulk Hogan and the website Gawker. The revelations were painful, and deeply personal, putting harsh public light on relationships and friendships with cameras rolling all the while.
At that point, it was no longer Bubba in the spotlight, but his creator Todd Clem. While Clem and his creation share a body and a voice, that he was clearly playing a sort of character on his radio shows had typically afforded him a life removed from the loud and wild Bubba. Off mic, Clem sees himself as a father first and trades the “Bubba Army” for a brigade of just his family. These ongoing stories, particularly the Hogan-Gawker case, changed that dynamic forever.
“I’m just very fortunate to be on AM 820, to even have a delivery mechanism in Tampa.”
Bubba The Love Sponge was, not too long ago, at the forefront of radio. A “shock jock” through and through, Bubba has been nationally syndicated and so well-known that he filled in as a guest host on the Howard Stern Show. A scandal involving Nielsen Audio bringing a lawsuit against the radio man, as well as the deeply personal becoming public, has cut into Bubba’s brand, but on our own AM 820 News, Clem carries on as he always has.
Last week, a piece in the Tampa Bay Times asked “What happened to Bubba The Love Sponge?” Undoubtedly, his star has dimmed from his nationally-syndicated heyday, but Clem’s character Bubba and his radio show continue on in Tampa, with the irreverent humor and unafraid attitude that made the show well-known since the 1990s.
In the video at the top of this article, News Channel 8 in the Tampa Bay area interviewed Clem as a second lawsuit in the Hogan case, this one involving Cox Media, begins to bring that chapter of his life back to the fore. Like the Tampa Bay Times, the coverage of Clem has a “where are they now” feel to it, with talk of a fall from grace and reports to come about what’s next. Yet at his current employer, what’s next for Bubba is what he is doing right now.
AM 820 News does not see Bubba the Love Sponge as a rehabilitating brand, but rather as a unique radio show that has stood the test of time. Where many like him have come and gone from terrestrial radio, Bubba remains a fixture on the dial every weekday morning for a kind of humor that cannot be easily found elsewhere.
The Bubba The Love Sponge Show can be heard on Newstalkflorida.com, AM 820 News Tampa Bay, and 98.3 FM Pinellas County on weekday mornings from 6-10.