Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tampa Radio: Bubba's Army Forced Whistleblower To Move

A former Largo. FL resident said fans of a “notorious shock jock radio personality” forced him to flee the state after they learned of his role in exposing the radio host’s ratings tampering scheme, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

Nicholas Tabachuk makes the claim in a lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas County court against Nielsen, saying the audience measurement company promised, but failed, to keep his identity secret when he came forward with damaging information against the radio host. The host is not named in the lawsuit.

Tabachuck served as a panelist for Nielsen locally and wore a “portable people meter,” a device that detects hidden tones in radio broadcasts to measure audience size.

In 2015, Nielsen sued Bubba the Love Sponge Clem for influencing a panelist to manipulate the ratings. That suit, in which Clem was accused of paying a man from $300 to $700 a month to tune in, was settled months later, when Clem agreed to make an undisclosed payment to Nielsen and publicly admitted a ratings scheme.

Tabachuk’s lawsuit claims the shock jock in question agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle a ratings lawsuit brought by Nielsen.

Asked where that $1 million settlement figure came from, Tabachuk’s attorney, Joshua Smith, said “we are still looking into that,” but implied it was based partly on reports that Nielsen was seeking $1 million from Clem, before the confidential settlement was reached.

Clem in 2019 sued his former employer turned rival, Cox Media Group, saying the company’s employees deliberately enlisted a Nielsen panelist to bait him into the ratings scheme. Records show that in January Clem voluntarily dismissed all claims in that suit.

According to Tabachuk’s lawsuit, Nielsen promised to keep his identity “confidential,” but instead met with the radio host and revealed it. The lawsuit states Tabachuk would have never come forward if he thought his name would get out. It also claims that text messages show a Nielsen security employee promised confidentiality.

“The mayhem that followed was horrific for Tabachuk and his family,” the lawsuit states, claiming that radio fans harassed Tabachuk with death threats, rape threats and stalking, hacking his social media accounts, showing up to his home and the home of his parents. Tabachuk and his wife, the lawsuit states, were forced to move to a remote, mountainous region outside of Florida.

Nielsen’s lawsuit against Clem referred to Tabachuk only as “the Cooperating Panelist,” though Tabachuk’s lawsuit also claims that because it “precisely quoted several text messages between Tabachuk and the shock jock, and provided exact dates,” it was effortless for the radio host to learn the man’s identity.

Nielsen did not respond to requests for comment.

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