MJ Kelli cleans out office after rival Bubba's report
May 27, 2000 - St. Petersburg Times

The WFLZ disc jockey quits while Bubba the Love Sponge admits that he's "taking a lot of heat."

It's sometimes hard to tell what's real and what's not in the world of radio showmanship.

The intense dislike between morning men MJ Kelli from WFLZ-FM 93.3 and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem from WXTB-FM 97.9 (98 Rock) is the real thing. To make matters worse both stations are owned by the same company, Clear Channel Communications.

Things between the two men got ugly Thursday when Clem reported on the air that the Tampa man who weighed more than 500 pounds, and who the MJ & BJ Morning Show was helping receive weight reduction surgery, had at one time been arrested for a sexual offense.

The MJ & BJ Morning Show was supposed to broadcast live Friday from San Diego, where the man planned to have his surgery. The trip was canceled and WFLZ played the "Best Of" the MJ & BJ Morning Show instead.

WTSP-Ch. 10 reported Friday that the surgery was successful.

"It was our attempt to save a guy's life," Kelli said.

Clem's exposing the man's record on the air "was in blatant violation of an internal agreement among Clear Channel morning shows not to undermine, bash, or attack any sister stations," Kelli said.

Kelli cleaned out his office at the Clear Channel complex in Tampa on Thursday. He will not be on the air on Monday and doesn't know if he will return.

"I'm in consultation with my attorney," Kelli said. "At this point the future of MJ on FLZ is in serious doubt."

Clem's boss, 98 Rock general manager Dan Diloreto, said the situation "is being dealt with internally."

Diloreto added: "The alleged offense was 16 years ago and the gentleman served five days in jail so we're not necessarily sure that it is as serious as it may have been originally reported."

Dave Reinhart, general manger for Clear Channel's area operations, declined to comment.

On the air Friday, Clem admitted he "probably didn't handle it the right way," and that he's "taking a lot of heat for it."

"The animosity that Bubba has against me stems from when I first came to town six years ago," Kelli said. "Believe me, I could do hours on exposing the real Bubba the Love Sponge on my show, but I've been asked by management not to and have abided by those requests."

In the most recent Arbitron ratings book, the MJ & BJ Morning Show was No. 1 with listeners 25 to 54. (the demographic most valuable to advertisers). 98 Rock's morning show with Bubba the Love Sponge was No. 2.