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Fundraiser for former KPRL radio host brings in $11,000

Last weekend’s barbecue fundraiser raked in more than $11,000 to help defray North County radio personality Joe Benson’s medical costs, organizers reported today.

Friends and supporters sold tri-tip sandwiches for 500 people on Saturday, said event co-organizer Steve Martin, and sold out in less than two hours. In addition, Norman Vineyards donated free wine-tasting and vendors donated jewelry and other items, which Martin said brought in an additional $800.

Elected officials including Paso Robles Mayor Frank Mecham, Atascadero City Councilman Tom O’Malley and Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee also attended the event in Paso Robles City Park.

Benson, who had hosted “Sound Off” on KPRL, suffered a massive heart attack after an interview in October and underwent a six-way heart bypass operation earlier this year.

Although the station continues to pay a portion of his medical insurance, Benson says he does not know if he will return. Meanwhile, he and wife Valerie say their medical debts have reached “the five figures.”

Donations made out to “Friends of Joe Benson” are still being accepted at any Heritage Oaks Bank branch. For more information, visit www.joeradio.org.

-- Stephen Curran

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