Dick Mason signs off from KPRL

September 12, 2012

Dick Mason


Please see correction at bottom of article.

After five years of hosting Sound Off, Dick Mason is leaving Paso Robles-based KPRL amid discord with the station’s owner over an alleged political agenda.

Mason is the third employee to leave KPRL under allegations that operator Kevin Will forces his talk show hosts to promote a far-right agenda. Mason replaced Joe Benson who was terminated five years ago on the day he underwent multiple bypass surgery.

“Part of the reason I was dismissed and the way I was let go was for political reasons at KPRL,” Benson said. “He wanted politics talked about in the way he wanted. I objected and wanted people to give their views. He is an asshole.”

After serving a term in the U.S. Army, Mason moved to California where he spent 35 years in radio broadcasting. In the late 80s he owned KVEC in San Luis Obispo. He went on to work for Mapleton Broadcasting and then KPRL.

“He is connected with every station on the Central Coast somehow,” said Dave Congalton, the host of KVEC’s The Congalton Show.

Mason is returning to the Portland area where he grew up. According to the Yamhill Valley News Register, Mason has executed a marketing agreement which allows him to supervise the Oregon-based KLYC AM station with the intent to purchase.

Station sources said Dan Del Campo will handle microphone chores for Sound Off, the station’s topical talk show. News Director Mike Mesmer will host Morning Exchange.

“He’s from there (Oregon), you know,” said a woman who answered the phone at KPRL of Mason. She said Will was not available for comment.

CORRECTION: Posted 9/13: Mason owned several radio stations, he did not own KSLY. Though he moderated forums for the Democratic Central Committee he says he was not a member. Mason claims that Will did not try to push political agendas or control who his guests were. Several former KPRL talk show hosts said Will would try to control what views were allowed on KPRL.

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Love KPRL listen to it every morning. Mr. Will is the owner and therefore can put whoever he wants to on the air. If you don’t like it, go to work for someone how dies or get your own station. Interestingly enough, KPRL has a higher rating than KVEC in the news/talk category for SLO which was surprising because they are way less powered than KVEC.

I am thinking this is a reason for Congleton to grind and axe over Joe Benson his buddy.

Sorry, meant to say work for someone who supports your political beliefs.

Hmmm interesting because I know they left on good terms and there was a nice going away party for Dick that was thrown by KPRL….not sure this story is accurate as well very old news!

Mr. Will is a very rare entity these days – an independent radio station owner-operator. He has to be solely responsible to his advertisers, many of whom are local, and he serves a local audience with local opinion-based talk shows. Mr. Will is also responsible for the content that goes on the air on his station. If these former employees can’t do the job the way the boss wants ’em to do it, then they need to move on. This isn’t a free-speech issue – its a business decision.

I always chuckle when I hear the station bump at KVEC – ‘hometown radio – by El Dorado Broadcasters’. KPRL *IS* hometown radio, operated by a guy who lives in the city where his station broadcasts. Its not a station owned by a multi-market conglomerate, with ‘hometown’ hosts that don’t even live in the city where they broadcast.

Almost as bad as TV Channel 11/12″ reporting stuff happening in Salinas and Monterey as part of their Central Coast News reports.

Kevin Will may shop in Paso, but he lives out in Indy Ranch….Monterey County

As if it mattered

PS: I should have added one other descriptive word for Will but Joe already covered that one

Having seen Kevin Will in action for several years I have come to the conclusion that three words fit him best




His treatment of Joe Benson when Joe had his heart attack at the station speaks volumes about his lack of common decency.

As for Dick Mason … a decent, professional guy who should do just fine after leaving the land of KPRL hypocrisy

Yeah–I wish Joe Benson would just be honest and tell us how he REALLY feels about ex-boss Kevin Will! LOL

I listened to Joe for years and even went on a KPRL listeners’ bus trip to Hearst Castle about 8 years ago. Kevin backed out (which was probably a good thing) and Joe & his wife came. He was friendly, cordial and an all-around good guy.

On the air, Joe’s professionalism was a great balance to Kevin’s mouthy rants. I really missed Joe Benson when he got canned and was sorry to hear about how poorly he was treated. Remember that huge fundraiser for Joe’s medical expenses? Frank Mecham, Harry Ovitt, and hundreds of well-known Paso Roblans and others (Steve Martin, I think?) gathered at Paso’s Downtown Park for a BBQ to raise money for Joe’s bills. The sucky thing was that Kevin Will REFUSED to even air a promo for the event on KPRL. I’ve never forgotten that.

This “news” is at least three weeks old. Mason was replaced very quickly by Chad Stevens of Chad and Andy fame.

Who is Rice, that is not available for comment?

Mason is right about Kevin Will……take a listen and hear for yourself

Paso Robles’ loss, Oregon’s gain. God’s speed Mr. Mason. Loss of listeners likely for KPRL.

I have to agree with mr holly…

And having known Dick for a very long time, I can say for certain and for sure, he is consumate newsman who asked tough questions regardless of party and held mark that I wish many in the mainscream media would. He told it like it was and told the truth no matter how hard for some…

Good luck Dick…

easymoney, I have to disagree. For years, Mr. Mason tossed absolutely easy, “softball” questions to city officials who were interviewed on Sound-Off. City Manager/Czar Jim App, ex-chief Lisa and many others were handled with kid gloves while on the air. Callers were allowed to ask questions and THEY grilled the guests but Dick Mason did not.

Also not mentioned here was how during Chittygate, both Kevin Will AND Dick Mason continually spoke poorly of CCN on the air, calling it a “tabloid news website” and hearing that was quite disappointing, especially when the whole sordid Chittygate mess wrapped up in a huge pay out for the singing ex-chief. (Who–by the way–is in Rotary with KPRL’s Kevin Will.)

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met Dick Mason and really like him. He’s down-to-earth, humorous and showed up at many, many North County events. Besides, any one who can handle working with Kevin Will day-after-day-after-day has my respect!! But Dick Mason’s tenure at KRPL was definitely NOT one of “hard news”.

Dick signed off his last day w/an interview w/Frank Mecham and listeners had no idea he was even leaving; it was actually kind of sad. Good luck to Dick Mason up in Oregon.

In DIck Mason’s defense, I do wonder–in retrospect–if Kevin Will directed him to “go easy” on city officials. After all, the city of Paso pays the station to air its council mtgs two times a month… just a thought.


I always found Dick Mason to be one of the most respective persons in our local news industry. Dick attended most news events and I found his reporting to be fair and honest which is something that isn’t always the case these days through out our country. I wish the best to Dick for he is a real pro and will be truly missed. The current replacements at KPRL leave a large void that has been created with the departure of Dick Mason.

Joe Benson is still a bitter person and shows no class by making the obscene comment that was reported in this column. I hear he has finally got a job at some little radio station in Cambria that has minimum coverage.

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