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Joe Benson will not return to KPRL

Joe Benson, the North County fixture and long-time “Sound Off” host, has severed his ties with station KPRL-AM, the radio personality said today.

Benson, 54, had been at odds with the station since a massive heart attack in October forced the radio host to take an extended leave of absence. Benson claimed owner Kevin Will would not tell him whether he would save Benson’s job.

Will informed him of the decision in a certified letter sent Thursday, Benson said.

It was unclear this afternoon if Dick Mason, the Central Coast radio personality who had hosted “Sound Off” during Benson’s absence, would continue in the position.

Word of Benson’s illness prompted friends including Paso Robles Mayor Frank Mecham and Atascadero City Councilman Tom O’Malley to raise more than $11,000 in a barbecue earlier this month to help defray his medical bills.

Benson said he is now weighing options that could include a return to radio.

“I’m hanging in there,” he said. “It’s a difficult time. I am heartbroken. I did not expect this to happen.”

-- Stephen Curran

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