Bubba the Love Sponge

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Bubba the Love Sponge
Born
Todd Alan Clem

(1966-04-23) April 23, 1966 (age 53)
Occupation
  • Radio personality
  • producer
  • actor
Years active1986–present
Spouse(s)Heather Cole (2007–2011)
Websitewww.btls.com

Bubba the Love Sponge Clem (born Todd Alan Clem, April 23, 1966) is an American radio personality and businessman who is the host of The Bubba the Love Sponge Show on the flagship station WWBA in Tampa, Florida, and the subscription service Bubba Army Radio.[1]

Early life[edit]

Clem was born Todd Alan Clem on April 23, 1966 in Warsaw, Indiana.[2] His father was a factory worker and his mother, Jane Edmond, a school bus driver and Warsaw city department head; he has one sister, Tara.[3][4][5] Clem's parents divorced when he was young.[6] In 1984, he graduated from Warsaw Community High School.[4] He attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana with the plan of going into dentistry, but his best friend Larry Plummer told him that he better suited a radio career, and he dropped out in his second year.[7][4] Clem had a position at the campus radio station WISU, but before he became a full-time disc jockey he worked at a van conversion shop where he laid down carpets and was an American football coach at his former high school.[4]

Career[edit]

1986–1992: Early career[edit]

In 1986, Clem worked as a bouncer and driver at Jubilation nightclub where he would pick up radio DJ "Scary" Kerry Grey, of whom he was a fan, to the club and noticed people gravitating towards him.[3][8] Grey then organised for Clem to work an on-air shift as an April Fool's Day joke on April 1, 1986 at WPFR-FM in Terre Haute as Rockin' Bubba Clem, a name that someone else had suggested.[3][4][9] Clem then became Grey's intern, making studio visits, answering phone calls, and sitting in on the show. Clem accepted a position hosting weekends soon after, and began a part-time midday shift starting on Christmas Day in 1986. He later became the station's managing director.[8] At a fraternity party, Grey called Clem a "love sponge" from witnessing the female attention Clem received, which eventually became his moniker.[3][10]

After WPFR, Clem had a stint at WGRD-FM in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he learned to become more himself on the air.[10] He was fired on December 21, 1988 after a 13-year-old girl had called into his show the day before, during which Clem made sexual remarks about her and competing radio host Danny Czekalinski.[11][12] In 1989, Clem had landed a spot at KTFM in San Antonio, Texas, where he was encouraged to trademark his air name and borrowed $5,000 from his parents to file a federal trademark for "Bubba the Love Sponge".[8][3] He then worked evenings at WBBM-FM in Chicago, followed by a stint at WIOQ in Philadelphia from March to June 1990. The station let him go as management thought his style was not what they were looking for.[13] Clem took legal action, and received $75,000 from the station.[14][15]

Clem then worked nights at WXXL in Orlando, Florida where he had an average of 53,000 regular listeners.[6] He left the station in May 1991.[16] In August 1991, he returned to Chicago on WYZT as the morning host, but the position lasted under three months before management re-branded the station.[17][13][16] Clem then moved to WLUM-FM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[18][19][20]

1992–1996: WFLZ-FM Tampa[edit]

In September 1992, Clem started to work nights at WFLZ-FM in Tampa, Florida from 7–11 p.m., where his show gained popularity from listeners, particularly teenagers.[7][4][3][21] His first major contract signed during this time was worth $100,000 a year.[3] Clem and WFLZ host Tom Steele were temporarily suspended to settle legal issues from their ongoing on-air feud.[22]

Clem became involved in various business ventures. In December 1994, he invested $50,000 to open Sponges, an alcohol free nightclub for teenagers in Largo, Florida. He opened a second Sponges in Spring Hill in 1995. There, he performed with his rap band Boyz Wit Da Bass.[23] Among the other businesses Clem was involved in during this time were an endorsement deal with an Isuzu car dealership, the Bubba the Love Sponge Limousines service, a personalised paging service called the Air Bubba Beeping Network, and a premium rate telephone line.[23][24] In June 1995, Clem released an adult-oriented home video Let Your Chia Run Wild, described as a "private collection of events documenting a lifestyle that some can only dream of", and features some nudity.[25] Clem regretted his decision to release it, and WFLZ requested Clem to cease its distribution.[25] In April 1996, he opened Bubba's Beach Club, a dance club and nightspot in Ybor City.[26] In September 1996, Clem had enough of the night shift and quit WFLZ.[21]

1996–2004: WXTB Tampa[edit]

Clem decided to remain in Tampa, partly due to the fact that he had other business ventures in the area. He started a morning show at WXTB in December 1996,[21][27] and continued to host a pre-recorded show that was then nationally syndicated in six other cities, including Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbis, Louisville, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.[21]

In June 1997, Jacor Broadcasting was fined $4,000 for the airing of Clem's discussions on having sex with a lesbian couple on February 25.[28] In October 1998, Citicasters, the owner of WXTB, was fined $23,000 for various broadcasts, including one from May 1997 that included talk about one of the crew describing their enema experience.[4][28] This was followed by a $4,000 fine for a June 12, 1997 show that had a female masturbating over the phone, and a $7,000 fine in 1999 for a segment that involved a caller ordering a sex doll on May 28, 1998.[28]

By mid-1999, Clem had received four Billboard Personality of the Year awards.[4] He was earning in excess of six figures and owned two nightclubs, one of them named Planet Bubba in Spring Hill. His radio show crew included Mike "Cowhead" Calta, Mike "Manson" Waters,[3] Whitey Pippen, Scotty the Body, and Anita Wadd (real name Lori Lewis).[4] In November 2000, Clem was a candidate to succeed the Pinellas County, Florida sheriff.[4]

In January 2001, Clem's show entered national syndication on stations in Jacksonville, Orlando, Hartford, West Palm Beach, Ft. Myers, Wichita, Kansas, Shreveport, and Macon, Georgia.

In February 2002, Clem was faced with animal cruelty charges following the February 27, 2001 broadcast which featured the Bubba's Road Kill Barbecue. The show involved the on-air castration and killing of a feral hog that had been captured by a hunter in the station's parking lot, and sound effects of hogs feeding were broadcast to have listeners believe it was being harassed and aggravated. The hog was then cooked and eaten by the crowd present. Clem, his executive producer Brent Hatley, and two others present were charged with felony animal cruelty.[29] The three were acquitted by a jury in March.[30]

In January 2004, the FCC issued a $755,000 fine to Clear Channel Communications for objectionable comments from July 19, 2001.[28] The fine consisted of the maximum $27,500 fine for each of the 26 stations that aired the segments, plus $40,000 for record-keeping violations. The segment involved sexual discussions among the cartoon characters Alvin and the Chipmunks, George Jetson, and Scooby-Doo.[31] Clem was fired on February 23, who at the time had the number one show in the Tampa area in the 18–54 year old male demographic.[19][32]

2004–2010: Hiatus and Sirius Satellite Radio[edit]

In July 2004, Clem announced his intention of once more running for Pinellas County sheriff.[33]

In September 2005, Howard Stern announced the hiring of Clem to host weekday afternoons on Howard 101, his second channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service exempt from FCC regulations. The show launched on January 9, 2006.

In 2008, Clem began to host two shows a day which lasted for one year. He and his crew would air a FCC compliant show on WHPT in the mornings, followed by the uncensored program on Sirius in the afternoons. In 2009, Sirius opted for just FM replays during the week and one live uncensored show on Friday afternoons. In December 2010, Clem did not renew his contract with Sirius. Clem could work for RadioIO, an Internet radio service that his agent Thomas Bean was then the CEO of.[34]

2008–2016: Return to terrestrial radio[edit]

Clem began broadcasting a live morning show from Tampa, Florida radio station WHPT 102.5 "The Bone" on January 8, 2008 which was simulcast on the Jacksonville, Florida radio station WFYV-FM 104.5 "Rock 105".[35] During the second quarter of 2008, Bubba's show received a number one rating [36] in his home market of Tampa, FL. (In 2015, the show's ratings came under investigation for possible Nielsen Ratings tampering.) In December 2016 his show was cancelled on his local Tampa station, WBRN.[37] The show is also syndicated to other stations.

2011–present: Bubba Army Radio[edit]

Bubba the Love Sponge Show
GenreTalk show, entertainment
Running time6–10am, Mon–Fri
Country of originUnited States
Language(s)English
Home stationWWBA, Bubba Army Radio, Twitch.tv
Opening theme"The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson
Ending theme"The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson

Clem announced on January 3, 2011, he would have an internet show on RadioIO (A company which Clem's agent was the CEO of) and feature several programming features throughout the day starting on January 10, 2011.[38] In August 2013 an audiotape was released on YouTube of Clem voicing a commercial for Vermont Teddy Bear. In this commercial Clem is heard making racist remarks; he denied being racist and said: "I never said the word in that manner, ever." He believed that the audio was leaked from "someone who had access to [his] world" and that audio bits were taken from recordings when he worked at Clear Channel.[39] Clem's company, Bubba Radio Network, ordered the removal of the video from YouTube, although it is now hosted on TMZ.[40]

On February 13, 2017, WWBA became the new flagship station of Bubba the Love Sponge Show after WBRN-FM dropped the show.[41] The show also airs live on Twitch.tv.[3]

Other ventures[edit]

Total Nonstop Action Wrestling[edit]

On January 3, 2010, Bubba announced via his Twitter account that he had signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as a backstage interviewer.[42][43] He made his debut the following day on the special live, three-hour, Monday night edition of TNA Impact!, participating in four short backstage segments.[44]

On January 16, 2010, Clem made remarks on Twitter regarding the January 12 earthquake, saying he had tired of hearing about relief efforts for the people of Haiti, writing, "F--k Haiti" on his Twitter account, and referring to the ensuing deaths of Haitians in the earthquake as a "cleanse." Clem later apologized, but TNA management nonetheless temporarily removed him from the air.[45]

On January 19, 2010, Clem claimed that he had been blind-sided and physically assaulted by Awesome Kong while backstage for the taping of TNA Impact! the previous day.[46] According to all three, the altercation was a result of the Twitter comments made by Clem concerning the Haiti relief project.[47][48] On February 25, news broke that Awesome Kong had filed a lawsuit against Clem for an alleged threatening phone call.[49] Later on The Cowhead Show, Clem confronted Kong [50]

Clem returned to TNA television as the personal interviewer of wrestling stable The Band, in late March,[51] only to be fired from the company on April 30, 2010, as a result of the Cowhead Show incident.[52]

Motorsports[edit]

In 2011, Clem and an investor group bought the 3/8 dirt oval Ocala Speedway, which they renamed Bubba Raceway Park.[53]

Legal issues[edit]

Animal cruelty case[edit]

On February 27, 2001, while on the air at WXTB in Tampa, Florida, Clem slaughtered and barbecued a wild Florida boar that had been captured by a professional hunter. Sound effects of hogs feeding were broadcast to lead listeners to believe the hog was being harassed and aggravated. Clem, his Executive Producer Brent Hatley, and two other people were charged with animal cruelty; all four defendants were acquitted by a jury.[54][55]

Lawsuits[edit]

In October 2006, Clem was sued by pornographic film actress Hope Miller, known professionally as Brooke Skye. Miller alleged that while performing on a radio program together with porn actress Melissa Harrington, Harrington penetrated her with an oversized sex toy against her will, at the demand of Clem.[56] In 2007, a judge turned down a request by Clem's attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit, indicating that there was enough that Miller has a legitimate claim.[57] However, the case was eventually voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.[58]

In 2007, Clem was sued for defamation by competitor disc jockey Todd Schnitt, over on-air remarks Clem made about Schnitt's family. A court ruled in Clem's favor, and Schnitt vowed to appeal. In March 2013, after 13 hours of negotiations, Clem reached a settlement with Schnitt.[59]

In October 2015, Nielsen sued Clem for $1 million over allegations of tampering with the ratings system by offering to pay several Nielsen panelists to manipulate the ratings by saying they listened to his show more than they actually did. Clem admitted to paying one person to manipulate the ratings, but Nielsen claimed he influenced several panelists. Clem's lawyer filed a motion asking that Nielsen's lawsuit be dismissed, but it was denied by a judge.[60][61] After years of trial delays, Clem and Nielsen reached an out-of-court settlement on July 6, 2018. [62]

Hulk Hogan sex tape[edit]

In early 2012, it was reported that Clem had filmed his then-wife Heather Clem and Hulk Hogan having sex in his bedroom. Subsequently, on October 4, 2012, Gawker released a short clip of the video.[63] In this video, Clem can be heard saying that the couple can "do their thing" and he will be in his office. Furthermore, at the end of the video, Clem can also be heard telling Heather, "If we ever need to retire, here is our ticket".[64] Hogan filed a lawsuit against Clem and his now ex-wife for invading his privacy on October 15, 2012.[65] Hogan later settled the lawsuit on October 29, 2012.[66] Following the settlement, Clem also publicly apologized to Hogan.[67] Hogan sued Gawker Media for publishing the tape, and a jury of six awarded Hogan more than $140 million in March 2016.[68] Gawker announced it would appeal as they were "disappointed" that the jury was unable to hear Clem's testimony,[69] but ultimately reached a $31 million settlement with Hogan in November 2016.[70]

Personal life[edit]

In October 1998, Clem legally changed his name to Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.[19] That year, he had lost 148 lbs having weighed 488 lbs before, and does not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs.[4][3][6]

Clem has been married twice; his first lasted 91 days.[3] He said "things got sticky" after he wanted to make it in radio and had to develop in different cities, but his wife preferred to stay in Terre Haute.[7] In January 2007, Clem married Heather Cole at the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Florida. Hulk Hogan was Clem's best man.[3][71] The couple agreed to separate in March 2011, and Clem filed for divorce that September.[71][72] Clem has one son, Tyler, from a previous relationship; Hulk Hogan is his godfather.[71][3]

In 2012, Clem started a four-year relationship with Nicole L'Ange. In February 2017, she requested for an order of protection against Clem, claiming he had abused her "emotionally and physically" during their time together.[73] Clem denied the allegations, and case was settled out of court that March.[74]

In June 2017, Clem put his St. Petersburg mansion up for sale.[75]

References[edit]

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