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Schnitt testifies in shock jock civil suit against Bubba

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 13, 2013 at 10:15 AM
TAMPA -

Radio personality Todd Schnitt told a jury Tuesday he began receiving angry, vulgar and confrontational emails and calls from fans of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem after Clem began a "radio war" against his rival in 2008.

Schnitt was testifying in his defamation lawsuit against rival Clem. Schnitt accuses Clem of making defamatory remarks about Schnitt and his wife, former Assistant State Attorney Michelle Schnitt, who often appeared on her husband's "MJ Morning Show."

In the suit, the Schnitts claim Clem took a battle for ratings too far, inciting his fans, known as "Bubba's Army," to harass and threaten the Schnitts.

Many of the emails read in court contained insults toward Schnitt, including calling him a "douche," a "narcissistic little bald man" and other names much more profane.

Schnitt said before 2008, listeners typically emailed comments and suggestions, some "cherry picked" to be read on the air. The "seismic shift" in emails occurred after Clem began an on-air assault, Schnitt said.

Schnitt also said his home was egged in May 2008, and a note was left that said "Bubba's Army."

Schnitt said he did not respond to the "radio war" because his bosses did not want to give Clem more "ammunition to attack me and my wife."

According to Clem's cast members, it was nothing personal, just an attempt to lure listeners. In 2008, the "MJ" and "Bubba" shows were in the same morning time slot, with "MJ" atop the ratings at the time, said Matthew Loyd, a radio personality known as "Spice" on the "Bubba the Love Sponge Show" from 1997 to 2012.

Loyd testified that Clem used insults to get Schnitt's "dander up." During a "radio war," rivals talk bad about each other, he said.

"The goal was to be No. 1," Loyd said. "The goal was to win."

Schnitt's attorney also asked Loyd about the definition of "whore," which according to the lawsuit was a word used by Clem on the air to describe Schnitt's wife. Loyd said the word was only a "general term to try to stir it up," not to accuse her of being promiscuous or a prostitute.

Brent Hatley, a "Bubba" executive producer and cast member, said the intention of Clem and his cast was to criticize Schnitt's show and "MJ Kelli" character, and not Todd and Michelle Schnitt.

"MJ Kelli is not a real person," he said. "It's a character. Just like Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the terminator."

Hatley also said he didn't think Michelle Schnitt had "been harmed in any way" by what Clem said about her on the air.

Clem denies Schnitt's claims, saying he was using "hyperbole" and "satire," that the Schnitts are public figures and his comments were protected by the First Amendment.

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