Bubba the Love Sponge: Behind the microphone

10:10 AM, Mar 15, 2011   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Bubba Clem calls it the best part of his day.

The famous father of two, known for his legendary radio show, is on his way to pick up his children, Tyler and Julia.

This, he says, is what life is all about.

Bubba pulls up to the school smiling and gets in line like the other parents, anxiously looking out the window of the family SUV.

He grins, "There they are."

Two beautiful and outgoing children, an 8-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl, come bounding over to see their father.

The door opens and Bubba calls out, "What's up, Julia?  Hey, Tyler!"

The longtime radio host adds, "Buckle up!"

Before even getting to the school, he knows that on the way home, he'll hear everything about his children's day.  "I've got two kids, so both combinations, the boy and the girl, see what problems a 9-year-old little girl and 8-year-old little boy got into today."

Once in the car, he begins to ask how their school day went.

"Tyler, you got any homework? Uh no, Julia, um, let me see."

He loves this part of his hectic schedule because this is the beginning of family time. "They're teaching you things that I don't even know about," he says with a laugh. "Hulk Hogan's in history. He's Tyler's godfather, world's greatest wrestler."

When they get home, it's time to see the woman behind "the man," the love of Bubba's life.

Her name is Heather.

The beautiful brunette is waiting inside for her family.  She, too, has a huge smile on her face as Bubba and their children walk inside.

This, too, is the best part of her day.

We ask her what it's like to be married to Bubba the Love Sponge.

She smiles. "It's wonderful but it's also work. I would have to admit, it probably is. I am really a hard person to live with. You know, his show personality is not someone that I would ever be married to."

It's Friday night at the Clem household. Heather has prepared spaghetti with fresh mushrooms. She is a bit of a health fanatic and gets gently teased by her husband.

"Babe, don't eat the spaghetti with your fingers," she giggles.

Bubba winks at their kids when Heather says this.

He said, "One thing that people always say, man, your kids are so well behaved."

And, they are.

Tyler and Julia are curious and polite.  They make all A's, and when they don't, there are consequences.

"We don't accept B's around here," Bubba says.  "That's the most important thing that we all get along, because it's for the kids. I think we're very fortunate."

Both Bubba and Heather came into the relationship with children - Heather had Julia and Bubba had Tyler.

Now, they have each other.

Heather tells us, "I never was a person, you know, if you had asked me 10 years ago before Julia was born, 'Oh, you know, you want to get married and have kids?' I really wasn't a maternal person to start off with. Once I got pregnant, then you know it just became very natural and now it's the most favorite job I've ever had. She wants more. I can't give her anymore. We might adopt."

Heather admits there are challenges.

She told us, "But, you know, it just takes work, like in any marriage, you have to figure out, you know, you have to manage every situation. When he's had a bad day at work, you know I have to be prepared for it."

She laughs when she admits something that he doesn't know.

"It's funny, you know, I don't know if you know this, but sometimes when you've had a really bad day, one of the guys will call me and say, 'Hey listen, he's been ughhh at work all day, so we're just giving you the heads up.' Which is good, so we work as a team."

He responds by laughing and saying, "I need to get to the bottom of that at work. It's helpful. I need to find out who the mole is."

Their relationship, amidst the fame and fans, seems to work.  She stays up late, he goes to bed early.

She and Julia go barrel racing, he and Tyler go car racing.

They are all one big happy family.

Heather says, "I'm up until usually 11:00 or 11:30 because I'm finishing up laundry or packing school lunches, going over homework, putting the house back together. He comes in like the Tasmanian Devil, aghhhhhh, and everything goes where it goes."

Bubba say the biggest thing about his wife that is special is her independence.

"The good thing about Heather is that she's not real needy, and I could never be with a needy - there's women that are needy and there's people that are independent. She's very independent. I could never be with a needy person 'cause I'm so busy. I'm very fortunate, blessed, to have a very strong woman who's a very good mom and very beautiful and does everything that I could ever want in a woman, but also isn't nagging at me all the time."

Then, they talk about the way they communicate, and it's not in person.

"We text more than we talk. that's why we get along so well. We rarely ever talk, when she calls me, I think the house is burning down or the kids are in trouble at school, something's wrong."

So, does Heather listen to the show?

"I don't listen to the show the way i used to. It's funny now because he's said some things to me that I said, 'I don't know, I don't know what you're talking about.' 'Don't you listen to the show?' I'm just testing to make sure she didn't hear it. I think it's great," she says.

What about the children?

Their mother says, "The kids usually like to listen. For the most part, I let them. When Dr. Mark is on, I'm like, 'No, turn it off.' They're talking about penises. I know just turn it off. It doesn't bother me anymore. I understand that it's entertainment. I don't take anythig personal. You can't. If I took everything to heart that's said on the show or done, I'd be a mess."

It's all about having a thick skin.

Bubba says, "Well, you know, she has to have thick skin as well because our show is about my life, good or bad. They make fun of me as much as they make fun of anybody."

He admits that he discusses everything.

"There's nothing off base, nothing I won't talk about in my life. Most of the time, I'm the brunt of the joke."

They joke about how they make their relationship work.

"I'm on a need-to-know basis around here. At work, I'm in control, 24 people to manage, everything rests on me here. I'm an inmate here. I have a number, a duty, I make the money, I sleep here. I eat here. I rummage here. Yeah, you are on a need-to-know basis," he laughs.

The two have been married for four years.

Heather looks at her husband and is filled with emotion. "I admire him greatly. I think he's an incredible entertainer, fabulous businessman, wonderful at negotiating, so talented. I've always been in awe of that. As far as fame goes, I don't know, I don't think about it. I think of him as Bubba, dad, husband, as Bubba the Love Sponge."

So, what does Heather call her husband at home?

She gives a one word answer with a huge grin.

"Bubba."

They met nearly eight years ago when Heather was set to interview him for a documentary.

He was hours later for their meeting.

Bubba admits, "I was real late, I was like two hours late."

"You were like 4 hours late," Heather says.

"I didn't know how hot she was gonna be. I just thought she was some television woman, I had never heard of her."

"I was supposed to be there at like noon," he said.

She fights back, "You didn't get there 'til 9:00 at night!"

Heather was frank from the start. "I told him, I said, 'You're not going to see my breasts. I'm not going to show you my butt, don't be disrepectful. Don't call me this, don't call me that and we'll get along fine."

They were friends for a long time and emailed for at least a month before they ever went out on a date.

"I asked her for it that night. 'How about giving me your number so I can get a hold of you a little easier?' She's like nah, that ain't happening," Bubba said.

Bubba gives his secret to the first date.

"For all you fellas out there, this will work every time. We had a playdate with the kids. That's what we did. Remember, I met you at the mall. I met her at the Westshore Mall for a playdate."

He added, "Julia was two and a half months, and Tyler was like 10 months or something like that. I said, 'Well, I have my son, they can go crawl around a little bit and we'll Starbucks or something.'"

They dated for four years.

Bubba says, "I didn't know that I wanted to marry her, no. I knew she was cool, she could hang out, she was one of the guys, she wasnt needy. In fact, I was more needy, I used to blow her up trying to get ahold of her more."

They are best friends, and that, they say, is their secret.

"You have to be best friends first. You can't take things too seriously. We've had this discussion. Life is throwing you curve balls all the time. Really, especially in my profession. We have our trials and tribulations like anyone else. There's nothing that we can't fix. Really, there's nothing we cannot repair."

Bubba says there's a promise they made long ago.

"We have a pact that there's nothing, nothing that we wouldn't forgive each other from. Nothing."

That's why he says he does so well on his show, her undeniable support.

"I love it. My show is a lot common sense, community bulldog says things that people would like to say, there's a lot of showbiz as well. I need a woman like Heather who can ground me and tell me that I'm not on the radio. Probably her best line ever, 'I don't work for you, I'm not one of your 24 employees, I'm your wife.' I fight her when she says that, not physically. I say a pretty few choice words. She has a good point, she really does."

Bubba admits that his show may not be for everybody.

"What I do is not everybody's cup of tea. I don't necessarily know if they know me. They find me guilty because of assocation, hog deal, stupid things I'm remoseful for. I've grown up a lot.  A lot of it has to do with Heather. She's been a positve influence in my life. I couldn't do what I do without her, I really couldn't."

Children changed both of them. 

"I think that having kids has changed me and slowed me down for the good and slowed me down a lot. I have room to grow. It's made me more patient, to continue to work on, having kids has settled me down and changed perspective on things," Bubba says.

And, then, the sweetest thing a father can say.

"The greatest title of all is 'Dad.' One of my most proud titles is to be a dad."

He added, "I know the three people's lives that I can make better, my wife and my two kids. I have a direct influence on their lives. The reason I get up at 3:50 every day and I cuss the alarm every day and the reason why I do what I do."

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