After more than a year of being sidelined from Los Angeles airwaves, radio star Rick Dees is back with a Latino-focused version of his longtime "Weekly Top 40 Countdown" show.

"Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Con Sabor" (With Flavor) debuted March 5 on KXOL-FM's (96.3) reggaet & #243;n and hip-hop station with a mix of Top 40 artists and rising stars such as Daddy Yankee and Ivy Queen. It airs from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. each Sunday on the Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. station, with plans for eventual syndication.

Dees, who produces the show from studios in Burbank, said he's working hard to improve his "serviceable Spanish" and intends his show to be as bilingual as KXOL, which saw its Arbitron ratings jump after moving last spring to the distinctive reggaet & #243;n and hip-hop format aimed at young Hispanics.

"My assignment is to help rebrand KXOL as a general market radio station so that they get to the same budgets as a KROQ or a KIIS," said Dees, referring to two of the L.A. market's top five stations. "I want advertisers to realize that this is the future and take a percent of their budgets and spend it on KXOL."

Dees, a Radio Hall of Fame inductee and Hollywood Walk of Fame honoree, hosted the morning drive-time show on KIIS-FM (102.7) from 1982 to 2004, as well as the syndicated "Weekly Top 40 Countdown." KIIS management exercised a "pay or play" option in the last year of his contract that sidelined Dees for much of 2004 and 2005 as Ryan Seacrest took over the morning show.

In the meantime, Dees has helped launch an online virtual music store, Burn Lounge, and continued work as a financial backer and co-founder of Fine Living, an E.W. Scripps Co.'s L.A.-based cable TV network.

Outside L.A., the "Weekly Top 40 Countdown" is heard in more than 350 U.S. stations and in 125 countries. In addition to the "Con Sabor" version, Dees markets a "hot adult contemporary" countdown that he said, "is more Coldplay and Santana than the Beyonc & #233; and Pussycat Dolls you'd hear on my regular show."

Despite his new endeavors, Dees is interested in eventually returning to a daily gig. "What I was built to do was a morning radio show I love that and want to get back to that again at some point," said Dees.

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