Bubba the Love Sponge
|Bubba the Love Sponge|
Bubba the Love Sponge's 2013 promotional image
|Born||Todd Alan Clem
April 23, 1966
|Occupation||Radio personality, producer, actor|
|Spouse(s)||Heather Cole (2007–2011)|
Clem, a native of Warsaw, Indiana, began his radio career on Indiana State University's WISU-FM. Following school, one of his first paying radio jobs was at WGRD radio station in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
On December 20, 1988, a 13-year-old girl listening to the show called Clem, who made sexual references about Danny Czekalinski (his crosstown competitor) to the girl. Clem was fired the next day. Clem then worked for a brief period WLUM-FM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
On January 27, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (a precursor to a fine) of $755,000 against four stations owned by Clear Channel Communications (including its parent station, WXTB) for airing segments of "Bubba the Love Sponge" which included graphic discussions about sex and drugs. The FCC alleged the material was "designed to pander to, titillate and shock listeners". One segment featured the cartoon characters Alvin and the Chipmunks, George Jetson and Scooby-Doo discussing sexual activities. The Commission issued a maximum fine of $27,500 for each of the 26 broadcasts of the segment, and added a $40,000 penalty for record-keeping violations. Clem was fired from Clear Channel on February 23, 2004. At the time he had the top ranked show in the 18 to 54 year old demo in Tampa.
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. Clem's company, Bubba Radio Network, ordered the removal of the video from YouTube, although it is now hosted on TMZ.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
On January 3, 2010, Bubba announced via his Twitter account that he had signed with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as a backstage interviewer. 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.
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.
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. According to all three, the altercation was a result of the Twitter comments made by Clem concerning the Haiti relief project. On February 25, news broke that Awesome Kong had filed a lawsuit against Clem for an alleged threatening phone call. Later on The Cowhead Show, Clem confronted Kong, allegedly using racially charged comments.
Clem returned to TNA television as the personal interviewer of wrestling stable The Band, in late March, only to be fired from the company on April 30, 2010, as a result of the Cowhead Show incident.
Animal cruelty case
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.
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. 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. However, the case was eventually voluntarily dismissed with prejudice.
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.
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.
Hulk Hogan sex tape
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. 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". Hogan filed a lawsuit against Clem and his now ex-wife for invading his privacy on October 15, 2012. Hogan later settled the lawsuit on October 29, 2012. Following the settlement, Clem also publicly apologized to Hogan. Hogan sued Gawker Media for publishing the tape, and a jury of six awarded Hogan more than $140 million in March 2016. Gawker announced it would appeal as they were "disappointed" that the jury was unable to hear Clem's testimony, but ultimately reached a $31 million settlement with Hogan in November 2016.
In 1999, Clem legally changed his name to "Bubba the Love Sponge".
Clem has been married twice, most recently to Heather Clem (née Cole) on January 14, 2007, at First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, Florida. He filed for divorce from Heather on September 15, 2011.
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- The Grand Rapids Press, December 22, 1988
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- "Hulk Hogan Sex Tape". SexTape.com. February 4, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- "Hulk Hogan to sue former friend Bubba the Love Sponge, sex tape partner Heather Clem for invasion of privacy". The New York Daily News. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- "Hulk Hogan Settles Sex Tape Lawsuit With DJ". The New York Times.
- Gicas, Peter (October 29, 2012). "Hulk Hogan Settles Sex Tape Lawsuit With Bubba the Love Sponge". E! Online. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- ABC News. "Jurors in Hulk Hogan v Gawker Trial Say They Made ‘Absolutely Correct’ Decision Awarding Hogan $140M". ABC News.
- Turkel, Dan (March 18, 2016). "Gawker says it may appeal the Hulk Hogan sex-tape case". Business Insider. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
- "Gawker and Hulk Hogan Reach $31 Million Settlement". The New York Times. November 2, 2016. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
- Deggans, Eric. "Bubba Files for Divorce". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
- Gillin, Joshua. "Bubba the Love Sponge Alimony Payments". Tampabay Times. Retrieved October 6, 2012.