By Kyle Meenan
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- It was the largest fine in broadcast history. A $755,000 penalty against media giant, Clear Channel, imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in January for, "willfully and repeatedly broadcasting indecent material."
This week, 'Bubba The Love Sponge', the radio personality responsible for that 'indecent material' was fired. In a faxed statement, Norman Feuer, the VP/Market Manager for Clear Channel Radio-Jacksonville wrote:
"Clear Channel radio stations WXTB-Tampa, WJRR-Orlando, and WPLA-Jacksonville have ended their contractual relationship with the Bubba Radio Network, which provides the Bubba the Love Sponge Show. We recognize the importance of understanding and airing content that is consistent with the standards and sensibilities of the local communities we serve. After conducting a review of the Bubba the Love Sponge Show, we concluded the show will no longer be carried in our markets. Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan supports the decisions of our local managers in Florida."
Today First Coast News sat down with the man whose concern for broadcast decency led to a three year battle resulting in the FCC fine.
Douglas Vanderlaan is a scientist by profession, and a dad who's top priority is caring for his two sons. Three years ago, he listened to Clear Channel's 'Planet Radio' in Jacksonville, in the middle of a "Bubba the Love Sponge" show featuring a porn-star who went on to give listeners the web address of her personal site.
"The more I listened, the more irresponsible content I heard," said Vanderlaan. "I just felt this sense of purpose when I first heard that radio broadcast. I thought, 'somebody ought to do something. Why not me'."
So Vanderlaan recorded several 'Bubba' shows, and joined forces with a broadcast attorney in Washington, D.C., to file a formal complaint with the FCC. That complaint eventually resulted in the $755,000 fine.
For Vanderlaan, news of Bubba's firing is seen as a gracious victory.
"I've been complaining about Clear Channel for a long time," said Vanderlaan. I'm really pleased to be able to say, 'Thank you, Clear Channel' today, to say we appreciate what you did."
And though he admits he's received several obscene and angry calls from supporters of the fired radio personality, he urges all parents to get involved.
"Parents pay attention to what's going on in the media. And step in and get involved like I've done when your kids are threatened by things like this."
The Bubba the Love Sponge" show was broadcast live each morning Monday through Friday from the Tampa Studios of Clear Channel's WXTB, carried by Orlando affiliate WJRR and Jacksonville's WPLA.
First Coast News