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Deejays Confess to Being Shaken Up by Caller : Radio: Murder tale recounted on ‘Kevin and Bean’ phone-in comedy show. Police make inquiries.

When Kevin Ryder and Gene Baxter--better known as the morning duo “Kevin and Bean” on KROQ-FM (106.7)--decided to encourage listeners to call in and “confess their crimes” on the air as a comedy bit Wednesday morning, they got more than they bargained for: a murder confession.

Just before 9 a.m., after other listeners had confessed to such transgressions as stealing bowling balls, deliberately running over cats and having sex with both a girlfriend and her mother, a man whom Baxter later described as sounding “wacked out and disturbed” called in and said that several years earlier in another city, he had killed his girlfriend when he found her in bed with another man.

“It just blew us away,” Baxter said in an interview. “The only thing I could think of to do was to suggest we put him in touch with someone who could help. And I got the feeling that he thought we were going to trace the call or something and he just hung up. We were stunned, so we just went to commercials and cut the bit off for the rest of the day.”

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Within the next 45 minutes, Ryder and Baxter said, the station received at least 60 calls and several faxes from listeners wanting to know if the call had been for real. And many of them criticized the way the deejays handled the situation--some accusing them of being flippant with the man at the beginning of his confession.

“We were doing this in fun and joking along with all the people who called in,” Baxter said. “At first we didn’t know how this guy’s story would end up. We thought maybe he was going to say he went outside and (scratched up) his girlfriend’s car.”

After fielding the complaints, Baxter and Ryder apologized to listeners on the air for what had happened and read off some helpline phone numbers for the man to call if he was still listening.

Both Ryder and Baxter insisted that the call was not a hoax on their part. They said the confession sounded authentic but acknowledged that they had no way of knowing for certain that it was.

KLOS-FM’s rival morning duo Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps, who also rely on live talk with listeners, were the victims of a hoax last year when a man went on the air and confronted a woman he said was his wife to demand a divorce because she’d been having an affair with one of his co-workers. He then spoke to the alleged co-worker and fired him. The “real-life” drama was later shown to be a prank by three employees at Edwards Air Force Base.

Baxter said that the police called Wednesday to investigate, but KROQ did not have any additional information on the man.

Ryder said he “was not in love” with the confess-your-crime bit, but the deejays had not decided if they would try it again. “Tomorrow we’re going to do ‘people who play the accordion day,’ ” he said.


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