(By Eric Rhoads) By now you’ve likely read coverage in Radio Ink regarding the sensational accusations from Bubba The Love Sponge (Todd Clem) that suggested Nielsen “concocted a plan to conduct a sting operation designed to entrap” him into engaging in ratings distortion activities.
Implicated in this alleged activity is Clem’s former employer, Cox Media Group. The details are deeply severe, and all of the trades that devote all of their editorial space to radio were hot to report the latest in a string of legal maneuvers and issues regarding the man who was once vilified for castrating a live boar on the air while employed by iHeartMedia predecessor Clear Channel.
Whether or not Clem is an example of “talent run amok” isn’t germane to the court battle between Nielsen and His Sponginess, and I’m sure the drama will be the buzz for a while. But, the latest salvo from the Mouth of Southwest Florida may provide radio station management with a reminder that, in the immortal words of Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, “It takes two to make a thing go right.”
While not employed by Beasley Broadcast Group, Bubba’s syndicated morning show airs on its Talkin’ Rocker, WRXK-FM “96 K-Rock” in the Fort Myers-Naples market. Ironically, right down the hall, Top 40 WXKB-FM “B103.9” has an in-house morning show called Big Mama and the Wild Bunch.
This is a show that has talked with the Grinch to see what he had planned for Christmas. A “man panel” discusses if men should own small dogs. It’s good fun, and it took a lot of nurturing and allowing this show to grow for it to truly connect with listeners and make an impact in Southwest Florida. And, based on the year-to-date numbers, it appears to be a wild success. The idea that “patience pays off” is so true for Beasley, and should the program spread its wings and fly to bigger markets or syndication, it will do so with the knowledge that interaction with programming, sales, and management helped them to get to where they are today.
Bubba, on the other hand, it appears, has become persona non grata at not one, or two, but three former competitors. His options appear to be gone in Tampa, his biggest market — unless he’s interested in buying an FM station of his own.
Some will say Bubba is just being Bubba. I argue that Bubba appears to be demonstrating the classic characteristics of an air personality who was probably never airchecked, or who may never have sat down with management in strategy sessions designed not to criticize, but to capitalize on making his talents grow and mature.
This is the role of radio station management.
I’m not blaming anyone but Bubba for the mess he finds himself in today. But is it possible that this Bubba was created by lax bosses, a lack of a mentor, and leadership that ceded too much control to an individual who thought he knew it all. Or perhaps management that lacked backbone for the fear of loss of a top talent?
No one individual knows it all.
Top Hollywood stars still work for the studios and the directors. No man is an island. But, with the trust of skilled superiors willing to work with — and not against — a budding talent, individuals will be a little wiser in how to succeed behind the mic without hiring an attorney.
Eric Rhoads is Chairman of Radio Ink magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org