Interview: Bubba the Love Sponge’s® Matt “Spiceboy” Loyd

Interview: Bubba the Love Sponge’s® Matt “Spiceboy” Loyd

426(photo by Scott Harrison)

Rock and Roll Ghost: First off, just how in the hell are you guys doing this?

Matt “Spiceboy” Loyd: It’s a weird thing. People ask us that. Our answer to them is…it’s sort of cocky, but it’s because we’re that damn good.

You’re back on mornings on regular radio and already there’s controversy. You even found controversy on satellite radio where there were supposedly no limits. Is this something the show pursues or is it just happenstance?

I think that’s what our show’s always been. Lately it seems that more of the controversial things that we’re doing seem to find us. We’re not actually going out and pursuing these things. These are issues that needed to be addressed by the media. And the rest of the media doesn’t do it, unfortunately. That’s where we come into play. And being back on regular radio gives us more of that local vibe and a local outlet to do that. Bubba® said it best earlier in the week when he called it “The Peoples’ Hammer”. Yeah we can’t do the strippers, and the tits and the cussing and all that stuff on regular radio like we used to. But it’s cool. There’s other things to talk about. And there’s other ways to go about things rather than what guys like MJ do, which is talk about Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

How did MJ come along to the show’s radar?

When it comes to competition I’ve always had one frame of mind: Until we have a 100 share, you’re my competition. I don’t care who you are. It makes no difference to me. I’d like to have every single listener, every single person that owns a radio listening to our show. That’s my ultimate goal. When it comes to a guy like MJ that feud with him and Bubba® goes way back to the days of the Power Pig when Bubba® was the strongest night personality in town and carried the numbers and basically carried the station. MJ got brought in to do mornings there and was a bit jealous of Bubba®. From there it just sort of evolved. They moved Bubba® to mornings on 98 Rock and Bubba started chipping away at MJ and his numbers just through having a better product and doing a better show. We could never say anything about MJ because we were under the same Clear Channel umbrella. It just continued from there. When Bubba® was fired from Clear Channel and it all shook out here we are four years later and we’re with a different company, we have the ability and freedom to talk about MJ and he just can’t stand it. He can’t stand a dose of his own medicine.

You guys have what, a 20-second delay?

Yeah, we’ve got a dump button in our studio and back at the Cox headquarters they’ve got a dump button there as well. They’re not too worried. Actually, they’ve been very good about letting us control our own content and what gets dumped and what doesn’t. Obviously if we miss something they’re there to catch it on the backside. For the most part we’ve had no issues and no worries.

What I’m trying to get at is if there was something that was defamatory or potentially defamatory they’d be quick to dump it. Do you think that this lawsuit is MJ using your show to get more exposure?

I really believe that MJ believes that he has a case. It’s him and his wife constantly talking to each other about it. A spouse is going to tell you what you want to hear. Everybody who’s in the Clear Channel building is distancing themselves from this case. But I really believe that he thinks he has something here. If he wants to believe that and take us to court over it, go for it man. It’s going to get proven in court that he doesn’t have a case and it’s going to get thrown out. And it’s going to show what a whiny crybaby he’s been about this whole thing.

What’s the status on the Mark Lunsford case?

The status on all of that is on this morning’s program we got it all hammered out. We had Mark Lunsford’s attorneys in the studio and on the phone, we had our attorneys in the studio and we all came to an agreement. They are going to drop the lawsuit, the notice to sue against the sheriff’s department. In return, we are going to stop talking about Mark Lunsford and just focus our energy on all coming together and making results by forming better policies within the sheriff’s department and within the state in getting laws changed to protect the kids. It shifted from being a personal lawsuit and something bad and turning into a very positive thing.

Do you think that whole thing spiraled further out of control than it needed to or did Bubba® get more heated than he had anticipated?

Anytime you’re doing spontaneous radio and you’re shooting from the hip things are going to be said that maybe later on you’ll go, ‘Oh maybe I could’ve said it more eloquently’. But Bubba® does what he has to do and we all do what we have to do in order to achieve our goals. That’s why we are the way we are. Did it maybe get out of control? Maybe. Maybe some of the personal attacks went too far. If the end result is helping to get these laws changed and having a nice sit down instead of a lawsuit then we’ve achieved our goals.

How bad was the past year before the current one-year extension came through? What were relations with the company like?

Oh boy. It was strained. I wouldn’t say bad because we’ve got people within that building and within that company that are very supportive of us. It was one of those things where [we said] ‘we’ve got to come to terms and if you guys don’t want us, that’s cool we’re going to do our thing’. I don’t think necessarily that Sirius knew that we were serious. Fortunately, if it hadn’t been for Howard we wouldn’t be on Sirius right now. Truthfully, he was the one who stepped in and got it done for us and blew in that call and we’re thankful to him for that.

The show is the second most listened to on Sirius. What is the barrier that needs to be crossed to get people there at corporate to recognize that?

I don’t know. There were some good talks last week. Some guys from corporate office came down and visited and met with Bubba® and his agent. I think that they’re starting to come around and realize that we are serious, that we’re not some local redneck show. Radio’s our life. This is what we do. It’s not a game to us. It’s not a joke. We’re here to work. They know we’re here to work. Hopefully, we can come to an agreement and be with Sirius for a long, long time.

You obviously have the support of Howard and his people and you’re the second most listened to show on all of Sirius, so it’s hard to understand why it’s been so difficult getting this worked out.

Well, Howard’s Howard. And Howard’s #1 and he’s the king. But he doesn’t control everyone’s contracts and he doesn’t make policy there.

That’s understood. But his persuasion and his stamp of approval in bringing you guys to the station to begin with that, in addition to the number of listeners would seem to be a no-brainer to lock you guys in to a long-term deal.

Well he’s taken us this far and without him we wouldn’t be this far. I don’t know how much further he could possibly take us. From this point on, it’s on Sirius and our agent to come to an agreement. You talk about it being a no-brainer and we feel the same way.

If it’s bringing people in and keeping people listen…

Yeah. Well, the Bubbapaloozas and things like that…when these guys from Sirius get a chance to come out; when they came out to Vegas and watched it I think that they got a sense of ‘Wow. This thing’s real, it’s legit’. We’ve got the fans; we’ve got the base that you need to build a huge brand and to sell a product. It’s kind of cool to see them realize that. And I think that they are realizing that.

So bringing these guys out to these shows in different parts of the country is a benefit to convincing them?

Absolutely. Whenever you do a show in Vegas and you’ve got people from Canada driving down to see that show that’s a really great feeling.

How does Sirius gauge the amount of listeners of their programs?

Truthfully I don’t understand all that myself. They do their own research; Arbitron does some studies and things of that nature. They do call outs to people and surveys via e-mail and ask people what they listen to and what they like and what they dislike and compile that data and come up with their own research.

There’s nothing like the ratings book that regular radio has, then? Though, truth be told, I’ve been listening to Chicago radio since I was in first grade and no one’s ever asked me or anyone I know what they’re listening to.

I hear ya. Me neither. Nobody I know has ever been contacted by Arbitron or anything. I’d really like to know who these people are, but hey, they’re listening, so that’s cool.

So, getting back to the state of things last year with Sirius, the decision was made at some point for the show to pursue other options? What was the mood like when both deals coincided? How did it play out for everyone to decide to do both?

There’s a little bit of relief when you know the deals went through. There’s a sense of ‘we’re cool, we’ve got jobs’. But on the other hand you’re going, ‘wait a second, now we’ve got two jobs. We just doubled our workload’. People around you start questioning your work ethic and that sort of pisses you off a little bit. We all just made a collective decision. We sat down and had a meeting. We said this is what we’ve gotta do to improve our position in the coming year.

You’ve already shot up to number one locally, right?

The first Arbitron came out and in most demographics we are number one.

Did you place higher than you expected?

It was a surprise. I knew with us coming back into the market it was going to shake things up and we were going to take some shares away from some people and improve our position. But for being on the air for three and a half weeks that’s pretty incredible. That was really, really good to hear.

Are you using the studios you broadcast for Sirius out of for the morning show as well or do you do that at a Cox station?

We’re doing both shows from the same location, from our own studio. Cox has been more than generous and more than helpful by letting us do that and allowing us to do that. We follow the rules and we don’t do anything out of control and crazy. They know where we’re at and how to reach us if they need us.

So there’s a comfort level by being in the same place, by not having to travel from one place to another? That probably makes it easier to get things done, I would imagine.

It does. At first we were worried about our frame of mind, walking into the studio in the morning and doing a clean show and then doing a dirty show in the afternoon and then having to go back to the clean show in the same studio. But it turns out we’ve been handling it very well. We all just get each other’s backs. If one of us is going too far, or thinks that something’s wrong, we voice our concerns.

The general banter and us opening up to one another I think that’s the best part. I really do. We’re able to sit there and bullshit around and tell each other what’s on our minds. If we were in NY or LA or something like that we could get those A-listers in the studio, but we’re not. Us being in Tampa, you just don’t get that. You sort of roll with the punches. If there’s an A-lister in town, who’s to say Bubba® would even want to talk to him? He’d probably rather talk to the tire changer on Tony Stewart’s car over Brad Pitt. But that’s what makes him him.

Did you have to hire on more staff to compensate for the extra need for manpower and to cut down on responsibilities within the core staff?

A tiny bit. We put one or two people on payroll that weren’t on there before. It alleviates a little bit of stress on us. But they’re not pulling double duty. Only the on-air staff and Dave Rice (the show’s engineer) are pulling double duty. The other guys have adjusted their hours accordingly to sort of work around what needs to be done. 25 (Cent)’s there a lot of the time. He’s not officially pulling double duty, but he’s there more than his fair share.

Did you have to get more space for the show’s merchandise? The merchandise has been pretty successful for you guys.

Yeah, we’ve got our own merchandise trailer in the back. When you say ‘trailer’ you think some piece of crap. But actually it looks really nice. 25’s back there, Chip and our intern department’s back there. It’s a really cool thing to go out to these live events and see people sporting your merchandise and t-shirts and stuff, it gives a sense of unity. When we walk through and see a ‘McGillicuddy’ or a ‘Bareback Avenger’ it automatically gives you something in common with them.

I’ve actually seen some of your shirts out and about at rock shows here in Chicago.

It’s funny; you see it on Hogan Knows Best when Hogan was wearing it. An episode of Hogan Knows Best would come on and the next day you’d see a few t-shirt orders come in and you think ‘Huh. It’s probably because Hogan was wearing it’. It’s cool.

What was your reason for getting into radio? You started as an intern for Bubba, correct?

I loved radio ever since I was a little kid. It’s just what I wanted to do. I grew up here in Tampa, FL-area. When the Power Pig launched I thought it was the coolest thing to see this station come out of nowhere and completely take down the station that was here at the time. It was unreal to me. It made me want to get in it. And when I heard Bubba® first hit the air I was like “Wow! This guy’s got it. How cool would it be to work with this guy and be part of that?” And then I had the opportunity to do that and here I am. Not an easy road.

When you came back after your show with Cowhead was canceled by Clear Channel…how did that come about?

We had been in contact prior to him starting on Sirius. Up until that point Clear Channel had been pretty good to me. Satellite radio was cool, but it was still an unknown. And so I decided to stick it out with the Clear Channel peeps. And then 90 days, same as cash later, here I am out of a job. When Clear Channel wants to let you go, they let you go and that’s it, you’re never heard from again. They don’t take your calls. They’re not in a rush to help you out. I had been contacted by Bubba® and vice versa through e-mail. When all was said and done I took some time off and wondered what the hell I was going to do and where I was going to go and stuff. Bubba® and me talked on the phone and he goes ‘why don’t you come in the studio and just hang out for a day. We’ll just chat it up and have a good time.’ So that’s what we did. The vibe was really good and I was refreshed by his new attitude and I had a new attitude on things as well. It just sort of worked out.

Describe the duties that you and Brent (Hatley) share. You’re both producers on the show?

Brent has the title of “executive producer” and that’s fine, I don’t really care, whatever to me. I do what I can to help. I book the guests, I format the shows for local radio, I format the best ofs. There’s a lot of production work that goes into [the show]. Just every duty you can think of. Brent handles a lot of the legal stuff. ‘Cause I don’t want to deal with it, it’s not my forte. I don’t want to get involved in lawsuits. My thing is the show. I worry about the show 24/7, 365. If a legal paper comes our way, ‘Brent, here have it.’ If somebody wants to get booked on the show, come to talk to me I’ll interview you and we’ll see what we can do for you.

That legal stuff is like reading math; it doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Yeah, I’m a radio geek, man. That’s what I like doing. Hey man, I dropped out of school so I didn’t have to deal with all of that shit. I don’t miss it one bit.

What have been the best and worst moments since coming back into the fold?

The worst moment was having to work with…this guy I had to work with for a little bit doing mornings and realizing, ‘Wow, this guy sucks and Bubba® was really good.’ You go from a really great host and a really great product and a really great brand into this guy who they’re just trying to prop up as being good and he’s not. There’s no other feeling like that because after three shows I knew this guy’s getting canned, it’s not going to work, he sucks and he’s bringing nothing. That and being fired and not knowing what the hell you’re going to do. I don’t have that college degree to fall back on. But the best moments there’s just way too many to list. There are great moments every day, every single day. That’s what I love about the job.

Does the ball busting get to be too much? I remember back during the whole Melody period they were riding you pretty hard.

It sucks sometimes, absolutely. But everybody has their day and if you can’t hack it, you don’t belong there. Some days you just have a bad day at work and you come home and you just want to be left alone. So some days are worse than others, sure. Absolutely.

How did the Bubbapaloozas start out and how do you expect them to evolve?

Well we’re doing a 3,200 seater in Merrilville, IN which is pretty huge. Originally Manson wanted to do a small, intimate show at the Improv or something like that. Bubba® said why do an Improv show when we can all get involved and do something larger and make it worth our while. We did a comedy club in Fort Myers and it went pretty well for the first time. We realized that there was a demand for people wanting to see us across the country. It’s a really great extension of our brand is what it is.

Do you see these continuing and getting larger as time goes on or do you see it scaling back if the deal with Sirius doesn’t go past this year?

I can see it continuing if the deal with Sirius doesn’t go past this year. I still think that we’ll be rolled out across the country on different FM stations. We’ll do the Bubbapalooza that way. We don’t have to be on satellite radio to make those things work. As long as we have an audience listening somewhere we can do those sorts of things.

As far as personally I’ve started a production company [Intense Frequency Productions] with Carl Harris, our imaging guy. I think there’s some room for growth in that. I’ve got a few ideas, kicking around some concepts and things like that to take that to the next level in the upcoming years.

How did this start and what is it you’re doing with the company?

We’re doing station imaging, commercial work, and voice over work. We’ve got a few agencies that work with us. They’ll call us up for a male voice to do this and they’ll give us a spot and we’ll do it. Some of the other stuff I’m working on is custom business imaging; on-hold narration, movie scripts and voice-overs. It’s a little bit of everything rolled into one. It’s great because we’ve got the facility to do it right there and we can do it really fast. The turnaround’s quick. And our overhead costs are virtually zero.

How is it that you got into this?

It just sort of happened. I can’t put my finger on when it happened. We just sort of said, ‘Hey, let’s do this!’ We just got it together really quick.

You’re working out of the show’s studios, then?

We’ve got a separate production studio within that building and that’s where we do our production work.

How does that work? Does Bubba® charge you for the space?

Carl does our imaging work for the show and we just work out of that same facility on off hours.

Bubba’s® not saying ‘you’re doing this on my property; you’re making money…

We haven’t even made any money yet. We’re putting it all back into the company. I’m sure if we start making some money he’ll say ‘Where’s my cut?’

Official Bubba the Love Sponge® Show
Official Intense Frequency Production Website

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