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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So who’s Joe?And who is Kevi Will?

All the other politics a side , I am happy to see you go ! No one has it mentioned in here so I will . You and Casey Jones drove ” The Train ” habitually , which is my opinion why you lost your radio stations and screwed a lot of people like me out of money .

That’s not just your opinion, it’s FACT!

Exorbitant amounts of money were squandered on personal vices which ultimately resulted in the loss of his then lucrative FCC licensed broadcast properties.

Go ahead and challenge me Dick so I will have an excuse to provide names and details of your excesses. There are plenty of those in the local broadcast industry and those who you stiffed because of your own selfish indulgence who will more than pleased to attest to it!

As far as being a journalist, the once highly respected KPRL news department who frequently won respected industry awards for outstanding performance became a shell of itself under your reign.

I once had a Trib reporter tell me it was bad enough when he made a mistake and saw it in the paper, but it was doubly troubling when he would hear the plagiarist version on KPRL. When the Trib switched over to a morning publication it was a god-send for KPRL. Other than a few cutesy interviews now and again, you rarely, if ever, reported hard-hitting stories on your own.

Also, why is all the vile being spewed at Joe Benson?

Obviously to deflect the reader from the real story.

Other than giving a very frank assessment of his former employer, the story has nothing to do with him. If he has ill-feelings towards them, so what, he has probably helped more people in our community than the other two who are mentioned in this story combined. I have never heard anyone attack his veracity or unselfishness before now.

Joe makes no beans about talking sheet about former employers. I was held conversation hostage years ago when he quit another local media outlet. What’s worse, the verbal onslaught occurred on the property of his former employer’s business. CCN and anyone who knows Joe is well aware of his perpetual ax to grind. And just because flaunts the a-word, CCN unashamedly laps up the quote and regurgitates the venom. This isn’t news, it’s a hit piece – and not even an accurate one.

How truly sad that CCN and its “award-winning” reporters are quick to cannibalize one of their fellow journalists at the expense of the reader and the profession itself.

“Lets never forget, WE’RE the real story, not them.”

— Correspondent Aaron Altman in “Broadcast News”


I want to make clear that I have not one thing against Joe Benson, personally, nor did I wish to say anything negative about him at all. I wish him happiness and continued wellness. However, I do have a problem with someone be maligned in such a way (this time, Dick Mason) without the slightest provocation. That seems really unfair to me. An individual – especially in his line of work – should be held accountable for the hurtful things he says, particularly when it’s about another who has lived in and served our community.

I hope CCN not only delivers a retraction of what they said about Dick, but extends a sincere apology for what they did to discredit him and tarnish his name.

Collusion and libel are serious offenses. Dick Mason was minding his own, moving to Oregon to be amongst family and better his career. Both Joe Benson and CCN should consider themselves darned lucky if Dick Mason doesn’t take measures to pursue restitution for this.

Just what did CCN publish that is untrue?

The only one unfairly maligned is Joe Benson.

pasoparent5 —- You are so right about “KPRL” stance on supporting the city on issues. A good example is the Nacimiento Water Pipeline Project pushed through by then Mayor Frank Mecham and his City council coheres. Still no water treatment plant in operation for several more years. So, there goes 4,000 acre feet of Nacimiento water that is not available for Paso Roblans due to failing to build a water treatment plant. What a fiasco !

This website is a joke.

I would like to again point out that in writing this article about me, the reporters never made any effort to talk with me. Even the correction is incorrect. I do not remember doing one single forum for the Democratic Party. Nothing personal, they just didn’t ask. I covered their events and when I did a story about them, I talked with them. Imagine interviewing someone about whom you’re doing a story! It’s probably more fun to just make it up, but I’m old school. If I did a forum for either the Democrats or Republicans, I don’t remember it. I believe it’s unethical to report the news and also be an active proponent for one political party or another. I realize that journalistic ethics escape CCN, but there’s a reason for them.

You say other Sound Off hosts say Kevin Will pushed his agenda. Name them. I was host for five and a half years. Before that it was Joe Benson. He had a heart attack and could not continue working, (but he wanted to.) Before Joe? Me! I worked there for almost three years before Joe. So, now we’re back about 12 years. Name your sources. We’re back to 1998. Ron Fisher? Fred Strong? Ron preceeded me. Fred preceeded Ron. Which hosts made that allegation? NONE, except maybe Joe. But you said several hosts. It’s another fabrication. Or was it a guest host? Someone now running for office? An unpaid volunteer that now has an agenda? He was not a host.

While I worked at KPRL I interviewed all kinds of people from both sides of the aisle. Kevin may have criticized them on the air, but he never limited or restricted access as you do at CCN. Even your correction is incorrect. This site and CCN’s lack of integrity is an embarrassment.

Radio Talk Show Forum Set Monday

November 21, 2006



By Bob Cuddy, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Nov. 21–A panel that includes a trio of people with radio broadcasting experience will discuss the future of progressive broadcasting in the larger context of opinion radio in the country.

The luncheon forum, sponsored by San Luis Obispo Democrats, will take place Nov. 27 at noon at the Madonna Inn.

Dick Mason, the news voice on KYNS, will moderate.

Panelists include Nancy Leichter, a principal with Radio Central Coast, owner of 1340 KYNS, the local Air America affiliate; Guy Rathbun, programming director for KCBX Radio, 90.1 FM; John Soares, who teaches broadcast journalism at Cal Poly; and Kathleen Wafer, part-owner of Morin Bros. Automotive in San Luis Obispo, an advertisers on KYNS Radio.

“There was a time when the only national talk radio hosts that could be heard here were Rush Limbaugh and his ilk,” according to a Democratic Party press release. “Now, however, liberals can listen to a mix of KYNS radio Air America (1340 AM), KCBX Public Radio (90.1 FM), and even KCPR Cal Poly Radio (91.3).”

The forum costs $25, or $10 for students. For reservations, which must be made by Nov. 24, call 595-7729.

The San Luis Obispo Democratic Club and the Business and Professional Caucus of the County Central Committee are co-sponsoring the forum.

MikeB is right. Mason regularly supported gearhart and city admin, even when they were committingi llegal acts. If I recall correctly, he also supported Lisa Solomon. Didn’t he call CCN a gossip site?

What galled me about KPRL and Dick Mason was their advocacy of Gearhart back when I was trying to sound the alarm. They treated the issue as if I was picking on the citizen of the year, all the while supporting the crooked city admin who had done so much to make it easy for Gearhart to break the rules and ultimately screw over half of the county.

I assume it was because KPRL had a contract with the city to broadcast the council meetings so they didn’t want to make any waves for McKinney and gang.

That’s when I stopped listening to KPRL because they lost my respect.

Valid point, MikeB. Kevin Will’s definitely not very supportive of whistle-blowers who shake the status quo. It’s ironic because Kevin talks a big game on the air about “keeping the muskets loaded” and how people should demand more from the governments… But when citizens do stand up & fight back (you in A-town, John Borst in Paso, et al), KPRL backs off.

I think it does have something to do w/KRPL’s $ long-standing agreement with both A-town and Paso cities to broadast their council meetings. Also PR city councilman John Hamon’s business is a regular advertiser on KPRL so you’ll NEVER hear him criticized.

I know the feeling, Mike, lost yours as well

Having read your past posts there was never any respect from day one and being that your one of McKinney’s underlings, I understand your discomfort.

wow Al, you were on that thumbs down button quick :)

Wrong again, Mike, but you have my regained some respect for your effort.

I was actually referring to your days as mayor when you would tell anyone that listened that you were an important guy.

That’s when I lost respect.

LOL LOL. Makes total sense know we all know who you are.

Uh oh… looks like Roberta needs to put Al on the “naughty step” again. Give ’em another time out or something. The guy’s a frequent caller on KPRL and tries to act like HE was elected as something, not his wife.

Mike Brennler will look like a pussy cat after the ego maniac TOM MALLEY becomes mayor. Once again we will have to listen to his oratorical rants of what a great guy he is and that he is responsible for EVERYTHING GOOD that has happened in Atascadero. The man is mentally sick, probably from years of work at the County Mental Department. Hopefully there will be a place for him at ASH in the near future.

A few years ago scammer Linda Kennedy actually had a radio show on KPRL which she used to promote her ponzi scheme. I’d be interested to know how many KPRL listeners got screwed by her, I’ve heard a few of the regulars on the morning call-in segment talking about the money they lost. Did she pay KPRL for that airtime? Did any of that stolen money end up in KPRL’s coffers? I’m just asking…

I have to wonder who is really behind this post since the Dick Mason we know never had a good thing to say about Kevin. While covering events downtown or sharing a few cold ones with the rest of us, Dick would often open up and tell us what he really thought about his [now former] employer.

Most any D.T. merchant he came in contact with will verify that he was generally negative in his perception of how KPRL was being run and would chalk it up to the owner’s impairment caused by the over consumption of Rolling Rock. He was also incensed over how the station frequently goes off the air on the weekends for hours at time and Kevin will not make any effort to correct the problem until the following Monday.

It was an open secret that Kevin was extremely jealous of Joe’s popularity to the point of firing him on the day he underwent open heart surgery. The kicker was when Kevin refused to allow the advertising of the fundraiser for Joe’s medical care.

I really do hope that the poster is not really Dick Mason since these comments are 180-degrees off of what he would tell us!

Dick Mason, again. I don’t know who PRCCM is, but this is also bogus. He says when I shared “a few cold ones.” I haven’t had a “cold one” in many years. I don’t know who you were drinking with, but it sure wasn’t me.

I don’t always agree with Kevin Will, but I respect him. He paid for Joe’s health insurance long after his heart attack. I don’t know how much money was raised at the fundraiser, but I’ll bet it’s less than 1% of the money Kevin paid through his health insurance. That insurance paid for his bypass. Do the math.

I’m tired of the lies that are being spread about me and others on this shoddy website. The report by the two star reporters consists of blatant fabrications. Why did they not contact me? They knew where I was. They just made stuff up. And they call this news?

It’s tragic what Cal Coast News does to truth in Journalism. Reading this website is a big waste of your time. Supporting it financially is close to criminal.

I have first hand experience with Kevin’s mouth over loading his a$$ in the Paso Inn’s parking lot after a fundraiser for the Children’s Museum a few years ago in the parking lot.

You would have thought he was a 6’5″ with such a large mouth and shouting profanities at someone who could have put him in his place physically.That person pulled all his funding from KPRL and never looked back, but that night opened my eyes to a Napoleon Syndrome person.

ah the sweet smell of the truth ….

Are you kidding me? This story is totally fabricated. Thank you, Dick, for trying to set the record straight. Obviously, these people do not care about the truth but only want to put forth an agenda and call it “news”. This makes me suspect for anything posted on this site. I cannot believe the audacity to put even write such nonsense. I did not think “news” was based on a “reporter’s” personal feelings about someone else.

FYI.. Dick always tried to remain unbiased, which he obviously accomplished since you seemed to think he was a Democrat! You bring up history that you have no first hand knowledge of. (Joe Benson). Dick highlighted only some of it. If people believe your transparent views and think it news… what a sad state we are in indeed…

Dick Mason here. I appreciate the compliments and well wishes. Unfortunately, the story about me is largely inaccurate. I was never on the Democratic Central Committee. To be on any party’s Central Committee would be a conflict of interest. In light of the fact I was not a registered Democrat, I find it hard to believe they would elect or appoint me to their Central Committee.

I never worked at KSLY. I did fill in for Fred Peterson for one week when he was on vacation, but that’s it.

Kevin Will never told me who to have on Sound Off. He never told me to push any agenda.

In his defense, Kevin Will (not Rice) paid Joe Benson’s health insurance long after his heart attack forced him to quit work. Kevin continued paying his premiums until Joe went on KVEC and attacked him. That was long after Joe’s bypass surgery.

I did not leave KPRL because of any conflict with Kevin Will over news coverage or the selection of Sound Off guests. I returned to my hometown, where my family has lived since 1853.

The timing was dictated by opportunity in Portland and my daughter’s imminent graduation from Cal Poly, not Kevin Will’s behavior.

I miss many old friends and the beauty of San Luis Obispo County. I even miss Kevin Will. But I do not miss the gossip, character assassination and inaccuracies of the local media. I would not describe inventing information as “Journalism.” Reminds me of the old addage, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

San Luis Obispo County faces many major water and land use issues. Why does Cal Coast News not focus on REAL issues?

That said Dick, my original post still stands …..

“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.”

In addition, who is it that decides the real issues Dick? You? Will? App?

Was Gearhart’s fleecing of elderly people a real issue?

Was the former police chiefs antics and subsequent lawsuits (which KPRL tried to sweep under the carpet) a real issue?

I hope your new endeavor does not include the Kevin Will model because you must realize you are in Oregon where people are a bit more …. shall we say …. left of center.

You have no clue what went on with the Joe Benson situation! you were not there.

then please enlighten us your excellancy

Thank you Dick. As I mentioned before you are a class act. You will certainly be missed but not forgotten. You are one of the few honest people left in an industry that is losing creditability. Please keep us posted on your future. With the internet I hope that we will still be able to listen to you when and if you go back on the air.

Your statements regarding Joe Benson are refreshing as he has become a very bitter person for his failures. I know that you offered to step down when Mr. Benson recovered from his physical injuries but the choice was made to keep you on the air. A great decision by KPRL and Kevin Wills. If Joe had anywhere the character of you he would be back behind the mike at KPRL.

Hahaha! So, other than spelling Dick’s name correctly Dan and Karen seem to have made the rest of the story up out of whole cloth. Makes one wonder about the veracity of the rest of the breathless breaking stories reported here.

Wow. Just plain WOW! Thank you Dick Mason for letting us know the truth!

So apparently CCN did NOT even interview Dick Mason before they published this article?? He wasn’t a Democrat, he did NOT leave KPRL “amid discord” with owner Kevin Will…

south’s point is a valid one. What else has CCN printed that may have contained important factual errors??

I’m assuming CCN will do the right thing here and RETRACT their false statements. I’ve long supported CCN, especially during their reporting of Chittygate, but this error-filled KPRL article is making me question my support of CCN! If CCN doesn’t step up and correct these obvious factual errors, its detractors will just continue to rip it up as a tabloid news site!

I’ve been a big critic of KPRL, especially their reporting of Swallowman’s escapades, and they most certainly do have a Right wing bias/ agenda. But this tabloid style article by CCN is really bad. At least get the basic facts correct and at least attempt to interview the subject of your article. Makes me question CCN’s agenda. Dick… best of luck in your new endevour.

You read CCN for its news? That’s a big mistake. I read it for the fun of watching the trainwreck of two bad sitcom “reporters” who don’t have a clue what their doing, alienating anybody and everybody who value such inconsequential throwaways as “facts” and that little nondescript something called the truth.

I would also like to see any untruths addressed by Karen and Dan and explanation to the rebuttal posts by Rem24.

danika: CCN issued a correction…sort of. I’ll break it down to show that the opening paragraph is STILL misleading.

“After five years of hosting Sound Off, Dick Mason is leaving Paso Robles-based KPRL…” TRUE

“…amid discord with the station’s owner over an alleged political agenda…” FALSE/MISLEADING [yes, KPRL has an agenda but that’s not why Dick Mason left the station]

“…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. SEMI-FALSE/MISLEADING [maybe Kevin Will “forced” previous hosts to push an agenda but Dick Mason has flatly denied that ever happened to HIM and that’s who this article is supposed to be about!]

“Mason replaced Joe Benson who was terminated five years ago on the day he underwent multiple bypass surgery…” TRUE [though CCN doesn’t mention how–according to Dick Mason and others–Kevin Will continued to pay insurance premiums for Joe’s surgery even AFTER Joe’s employment had been terminated.

So, overall, the “correction” issued by CCN is not adequate. The problem is that this article’s headling says “Dick Mason signs off from KPRL” so you’d think the article’s about Dick…BAIT AND SWITCH! It is really about Joe Benson vs. Kevin Will/KPRL. The reporters tried to use Dick Mason’s recent departure as a lead-in to Joe Benson’s complaints about KPRL and the whole thing’s poorly-written, poorly researched and an all-around disappointment to CCN readers.

Again, I’ve met Joe AND Dick Mason and like them both. I think they’re both great radio personalities and wish the best to both of them. Also I do not think Kevin Will handled Joe’s departure tactfully or kindly…

BUT this article was poorly written to begin with and now the “correction” is misleading and confusing. So for the sake of “journalistic integrity” (and I never thought I’d be saying this but…) CCN needs to just pull this article and save face while it still can.

Smackdown of huge reporting inaccuracies by Dick Mason…and accomplished with class.

Very discouraging to see CCN’s top reporters get this one all wrong. Why they didn’t not interview the source and wrote a tacky article to boot is beyond this reader.

Mr. Mason: Talked to a dear friend of yours the other night and heard you were headed up north. Don’t forget to teach Oregon how to put on a good barbecue. (Remember,…you had the best in the business show you how it’s done!)

The Central Coast is gonna miss you, man. Godspeed!

How can two “reporters” get a story so unbelievably wrong? Easy — by working together.

Where was the “editor”?

“In his defense, Kevin Will (not Rice) paid Joe Benson’s health insurance long after his heart attack forced him to quit work. Kevin continued paying his premiums until Joe went on KVEC and attacked him. That was long after Joe’s bypass surgery”

For clarification, are you saying Kevin Will kept a former employee, Joe Benson on the KPRL group health plan long after Joe Benson was no longer an employee of KPRL?