Hey, Roger Hedgecock: What's next?

On the occasion of Roger Hedgecock's 20th anniversary on the air, we don't have to wonder whether one man can still make a difference. Roger and his audience answer that question every day.

For Hedgecock, it wasn't always so clear. Believe it or not, some people used to think they could ignore Hedgecock's show. The most popular radio talk show in San Diego was a little more fun then: A listener would call with a problem. After showing him, Hedgecockwould challenge him to take direct action. Or her.

One of the first calls of this type came from the wife of a former Border Patrol agent. She said illegal immigration was out of control and she wanted to "light up the border" to draw attention to the problem that most didn't think was a problem in the first place. So off they went with cars, and microphones, shining headlights and attention where illegal aliens and their smugglers crossed.

Soon, they had permanent lights, and a fence, too. Illegal crossings plummeted and national attention rose on our dangerously chaotic border.

Hedgecock has started the same process dozens of times: Pedophilia in Balboa Park? Roger and his listeners were on it. County trash system in a mess? Not for long. Child protective services in disarray? Not any more.

Soon it became a game: Seeing how long it would take elected officials to go from saying they could never do what Hedgecock's listeners wanted, to saying that was what they wanted all along. My own favorite was when the San Diego city attorney told a high school group it could not hold a car wash to raise money for a school trip. Too much pollution, he told them on several occasions. Finally, in desperation, they called Hedgecock. His audience reacted with calls to the city attorney's office.

Hedgecock didn't tell them to call. He didn't have to. Within 24 hours, not only did the city attorney discover he had made a horrible mistake, he was out there washing cars with them.

This is just a few of the reasons why Roger is the best radio talk show host in America. And we are lucky to have him.

Pattinson is president and CEO of Barratt American.

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