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HEDGECOCK TALKS KSDO UP TO NO. 2

When Roger Hedgecock talks, people listen.

In the three months that the former mayor has played host to the afternoon talk show on news/talk station KSDO-AM (1130), the number of listeners tuned in between noon and 3 p.m. has gone up by more than 15%, according to the latest Arbitron ratings.

And KSDO General Manager Jim Price, who received plenty of flak in December when he announced his decision to make Hedgecock part of the KSDO air staff, is understandably ecstatic--and, he admits, more than a little relieved.

“You really don’t know how good this makes me feel,” Price said, laughing. “When I first hired Roger, I felt I was making the right move--but you never really know how the public is going to react until you actually see the ratings.

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“To tell you the truth, though, I think the gamble has just begun to pay off. A few days before the Arbitrons came in, we received the results of an in-house research project in which we asked 400 scientifically chosen listeners how they felt about Roger being on the air. The margin was 2 to 1 in favor.”

The talk show’s overall share of available listeners, Price said, went up to 6.5% from the 5.7% that it had received in the three-month ratings period preceding Hedgecock’s Jan. 23 debut. That puts the show at the No. 2 position in the market, up from No. 5.

Moreover, Price said, the latest ratings reveal that Hedgecock is the most popular afternoon talk show host KSDO has had since the show made its debut in 1976, with Laurence Gross as host.

“Since then, we’ve had seven other hosts, including Paul Bloom and Larry Himmel,” Price said. “And Roger’s beat them all.”

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Hedgecock himself said the ratings victory is one of the biggest highs he has experienced since the dark days of last fall.

On Oct. 9, he was convicted of 13 felony counts of conspiracy and perjury relating to the financing of his 1983 mayoral campaign. Then on Dec. 10, after two months of legal challenges, he resigned just an hour before his sentencing.

“When I first took this job, I wasn’t sure whether or not I could pull it off,” Hedgecock said. “I came in as an absolute rookie, and for a rookie to come in with a (ratings) book like this is absolutely great.

“From the start, I knew I had to make this talk show interesting, because if it wasn’t interesting, people wouldn’t listen. But it is interesting, and people are listening, and I’m grateful for that.”

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From the start, Hedgecock has tackled a range of topics and issues on his show. He and his guests have warned about Satanism in local high schools; they’ve bantered about what to do with the problems at the border; they’ve debated U.S. policy toward Nicaragua and Libya; they’ve bashed the press, and they’ve even passed out diet and sex hints.

Although some have accused him of not being sufficiently controversial, Hedgecock asserts that that’s not his role.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of being controversial,” he said. “It’s a matter of allowing a lot of clashing opinions to be well-articulated, and in the process, allowing the listener to form an informed opinion about these subjects.”

Overall, KSDO-AM is ranked second in the city, with a 6.6% Arbitron share (up from 6.1%).

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In first place, with 9.7% (up from 9.4%), is beautiful music station KJQY-FM (K-JOY, 103.7), the traditional market leader.

In other ratings news, San Diego’s album-oriented rock powerhouse, KGB-FM (101.5), isn’t faring too well after losing its program director and one of its top-ranked deejays in the last two months; the station slipped almost 2 points, to 5.9% from 7.8%.

That’s good news for progressive station XTRA-FM (91X), whose 5.5% share (up from 4.5%) puts it within breathing distance of its longtime rival.

Also winning big are urban-contemporary station XHRM-FM (92.5) and adult-contemporary station KWLT (K-LITE, 94.9).

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Among those who have fallen in the ratings are adult-contemporary stations KFMB-AM/FM (760/B100), country station KSON-FM (97.3) and album-oriented XHITZ-FM (90.3).


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