|Bubba the Love Sponge at Seminole Casino Immokalee|
CHARLES RUNNELLS 10:32 a.m. EDT June 11, 2015
His name is Bubba the Love Sponge. It says so right there on his driver's license and passport.
Don't believe it? That's OK. Neither do the people checking IDs at the airport.
"They're like, 'OK, smartass, where's your real one?'" says the Tampa-based shock jock, whose radio show appears on local FM station 96 K-Rock and other stations across the country. "And I'm like, 'No sir, that's my real one.'"
The controversial radio personality legally changed his name from Todd Clem to Bubba the Love Sponge in 1999. And it gets a reaction wherever he has to pull out his ID.
"It's always, 'Sir, really?' And I'm like, 'No, really,'" he says. "And they look it up and validate it, and then they laugh.
"It's always kind of an icebreaker. It kind of opens up this whole conversation. They say, 'Did your momma name you that?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm a radio guy.'"
Bubba probably won't need to show his ID when he appears Saturday at Seminole Casino Immokalee. The place will be packed with fans in the "Bubba Army," and they all know EXACTLY who he is.
He and the rest of his radio-show crew will put on his uncensored Bubbapalooza comedy show, which includes live music, stand-up, skits and other popular bits from his show.
Bubba chatted with The News-Press recently to promote the event. Here's what we learned.
He's just one fine away from getting a lifetime ban from terrestrial radio. He says he's racked up more than $1 million in FCC fines.
"I'm under the microscope daily," he says. "One more strike, and I'm officially banned for life on regular radio. I have the largest one-time fine in the history of the FCC. So one more strike, and I'm gone!
"My fine was $755,000. It was for just a plethora of eight or nine different things that they found offensive. It was $75,000 an utterance or something like that.
"I have over $1 million in fines. I'm in the seven figures. I should be getting a gold watch from the FCC soon (laughs)."
He seems to be a magnet for controversy and lawsuits — whether it's a sex tape involving his ex-wife and
"I don't get tired of lawsuits as much as I get tired of social networking and the haters," he says. "That's really a whole 'nother thing that I didn't anticipate in my career. That's something we didn't have before. It's bad. It's bad. They take swipes at my children. That's something that I never knew.
"You know what? I'm not involved in any lawsuits right now. But I'm always being killed by ... 8 or 10 trolls that are posting pictures of my son or my mom's address. That's what makes me want to quit and go back to Indiana to be a football coach."
He doesn't call himself a shock jock, but he doesn't mind much if you do.
"That's kind of a term that the media coined," he says. "It's anybody who is real and isn't the standard plastic template. It doesn't bother me.
"It's a smart-ass attempt to label me and pigeonhole me. But I'm obviously in good company with Howard."
He returned to terrestrial radio in 2012 after working for
"It's continually a struggle to keep it between the lines, so to speak," he says. "I walk up to the ledge every day, but don't ever go over."
He knows exactly what he would have done if he'd been elected sheriff of
"I would have been the sheriff," he says. "And been a kick-ass one!"
Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (News-Press) (Facebook) @charlesrunnells (Twitter)
If you go
What: Bubbapalooza with Bubba the Love Sponge
When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Seminole Casino Immokalee, 506 First St., Immokalee