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Off the air, Bubba goes online

By Webcast, the fired shock jock confirms he has negotiated with two satellite radio companies.

ERIC DEGGANS
Published March 12, 2004

Predicting a broadcast universe in which "shock jocks" will be pushed onto satellite radio systems, fired radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem was defiant Thursday in two live Internet appearances.

With six young women seated on a couch behind him, Clem faced a Web camera and tossed profanities at the Federal Communications Commission, Congress and President Bush for "strong-arming" Clear Channel into firing him last month.

The Web broadcasts at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. were his first public remarks since Clear Channel fired him Feb. 24 from WXTB-FM 97.9 (98Rock) in Tampa and two other Florida radio stations.

"In the latest barrage of FCC fines, the government has made a scapegoat out of me," added Clem, who said he was speaking from the Brandon building that houses the Voyeur Dorm adult Web service. "Getting loud, fat obnoxious a------- like me off the radio is what they want to do."

Industry experts urged caution in evaluating the impact of the FCC's actions, noting that it is unclear how long the current drive to regulate indecent content will last.

"My advice is, everybody don't push the panic button," said Joel Denver, president and publisher of AllAccess.com, an online radio industry trade magazine. "Right now, (indecency) has everyone's attention, but things soften up over time. I think everybody should take a step back and be calm."

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill that would raise the top FCC indecency fine from $27,500 to $500,000 per infraction. A U.S. Senate committee Tuesday approved that same increase in a different measure.

While some legislators worry that the bills may curb free speech, others insist changes are necessary to address public concern over displays such as Janet Jackson's breast-baring incident at the Super Bowl.

"Parents, families, educators - and every American who turns on a television or radio - deserve this bill," said House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo. "It's time to return the public airwaves to the taxpayers who support them."

The Senate committee Tuesday also rejected a provision to let the FCC regulate indecency in cable and satellite channels, allowing those outlets to offer explicit content.

Fifteen minutes late for the Thursday morning Webcast, Clem confirmed rumors he has been negotiating with both XM Radio and Sirius, the two biggest companies that provide radio by satellite.

With such services, customers buy a special receiver and pay a monthly fee to access dozens of music, talk and news channels.

Clem said he and his representatives have met with companies in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, hoping to announce a new home for his show in a week to 10 days.

Clem envisioned a satellite radio lineup that might feature him and New York shock jock Howard Stern, whose show was pulled from six Clear Channel stations on Feb. 25.

"Satellite radio is where DirectTV was 10 years ago . . . they need a Stern or a Bubba," said Clem, noting rumors that Stern and other personalities may face future FCC fines.

FCC officials declined to comment on specific cases but said they are still evaluating about two dozen complaints from the past two years.

Fired after the FCC proposed $755,000 in fines against Clear Channel, Clem said Thursday that the company released him, even after he agreed to follow new guidelines for less explicit content. The company has since paid the fines.

Still, he urged his fans not to take out their anger on Clear Channel, saying "they've made their decision and they have to stand by it."

A representative for Clear Channel declined to comment on Clem's statements.

Bruce Hammil, vice president of Voyeur Dorm owner Entertainment Network Inc., said the 10:30 a.m. Webcast drew about 3,800 users Thursday. It featured questions e-mailed by reporters and fans.

The evening Webcast was more risque, as the women seated behind Clem talked about sex and stripped off bikini tops to reveal breasts covered by tape.

Entertainment Network was experienced with the process.

In July 2000, it hosted AskO.J.com, a Web site in which users paid about $10 each to e-mail questions to O.J. Simpson in a live interview.

A longtime friend, Hammil said he suggested Clem try the Webcast as a way to answer questions in a setting he could control.

"It was a chance for him to say what he wanted," said Hammil. "He was worried about spin . . . where he says 10 words and (the newspaper) prints three."

- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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