SAN DIEGO -- Ex-mayor Roger Hedgecock, his voice hoarse from a cold, began his new job as a radio talk show host Monday, with a pay raise since being forced out of office by his conviction on illegal campaign funding charges.
The Republican, 39, who resigned as mayor in December, said he was nervous and 'struggling' a bit because of his cold.
'I sound awful today,' he said. 'Mom, if you're out there listening, this is really me.'
Hedgecock was surrounded in the KSDO-AM newsroom by a host of reporters, television lights and curious onlookers. The San Diego radio station features a news-talk format.
'The perspiration is already building up,' he said.
Hedgecock has predicted his inaugural show would have 'the largest single audience in local radio's history.' He said he will emphasize what he termed 'positive news.'
'I'm here to communicate and share opinions,' he told listeners.
The first caller on the new 'The Roger Hedgecock show' was from Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., who said he wanted to wish Hedgecock good luck.
Live and taped interviews later in the show tied in with the first national holiday of Martin Luther King's birthday, including taped segments with Jesse Jackson and John Jacobs, head of the National Urban League.
No mention was made of Hedgecock's legal troubles. He has said he would not discuss the issue on his show.
Hedgecock was convicted in October following his second trial on charges he funneled more than $350,000 in illegal contributions into his 1983 mayoral campaign.
He stayed in office until his request for a third trial was denied in December. He resigned and was sentenced to a year in the custody of the county sheriff, but has remained free pending appeal.
Hedgecock is an attorney, but if his conviction is upheld, he could be denied the right to practice law.
Although terms of his KSDO contract have not been revealed, Hedgecock, married and a father of two, said he is making more money than he did as mayor when his annual salary was $50,000.