He's vain, he's vulgar, he's Bubba - he's back

Published January 10, 2006

At first, it seemed a different Bubba the Love Sponge was cracking the mike Monday, after nearly two years off the radio.

The trademark egotism and in-your-face vulgarity that made him one of Tampa's top radio personalities were toned down a notch or two. And though he started his first show for Sirius satellite radio Monday threatening to expose awful secrets about executives at his former employer, Clear Channel Radio, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem also spent some time praising the guy who rescued his career, fellow shock jock Howard Stern.

"I'm man enough to say I was pretty much down and out, and he was the bigger person to give me a chance," said Clem, whose new show airs from 4 to 8 p.m. on Stern's second satellite radio channel, Howard 101. "Thank you Howard for allowing me to be a part of your show. This is the only place where radio personalities can go out and be themselves."

In two weeks, Clem will host his show from a specially outfitted studio in Tampa, complete with stripper pole and torture rack. But on Monday, the self-described "Florida hillbilly" was speaking to listeners from a studio at Sirius' New York offices, awed by the media storm that greeted Stern's first show on satellite Monday morning.

Clem was fired from WXTB-FM 97.9 by Clear Channel in February 2004, less than a month after earning a record $755,000 fine from federal broadcast regulators. On Monday, Clem said he felt a bit off his game, noting that he hadn't hosted a radio show since his last day on air in Tampa.

That might explain why some of the material seemed a bit inside, as Clem called a member of his entourage and begged him to rejoin the show. He also played a song parody about shaving his private parts, announced plans to play uncensored versions of routines that earned hefty fines in the traditional radio world and threatened to beat up someone from Stern's entourage.

So maybe Clem wasn't that laid back, after all.

"One of the reason why Howard hired me ... is because we have been (cheated) by the same people who (cheated) him ... the federal government and Clear Channel Radio," said Clem, blaming his former employer for knuckling under to authorities seeking to curb radio indecency. "But this is the next big thing ... (And) those truly elite fans who followed us, I'm forever grateful to you."