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.


Horsing Around
Calabasas-based HorseTV Channel has signed agreements with the American Quarter Horse Association naming the group as the charter sponsor of a programming block called "AQHA's Best of the West." The weekly block will be anchored by 26 competitive events produced by HorseTV.


AQHA and HorseTV also will work on co-marketing initiatives and are co-developing children's horsemanship and entertainment programming.


The TV network launched in October 2005 and is available nationwide on C-Band Satellite and on cable systems in South Carolina, Texas and Arizona. Its programming includes rodeos and other equestrian competitions, documentaries, educational shows and relevant classic movies. It does not provide a gambling forum.


"The partnership between the HorseTV Channel and AQHA provides a valuable opportunity for both organizations to bring exposure to AQHA's important role in the horse industry," said George Greenberg, chief executive of the HorseTV Media Group Inc.


Digital Mozart
Classical music station KMZT-FM (105.1) continues its celebration of the 250th birthday of station namesake Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with a first-ever free download of a specially recorded work by the famous composer. In partnership with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, KMZT will offer Mozart's Serenade No. 6 in D major (Serenata Notturna) as a free download on kmzt.com for the next three months.


The performance, conducted by Harry Bicket, was recorded on Nov. 6 at Royce Hall.


"Downloading a free work of Mozart offers another way for us to connect to our listeners locally and around the world while adapting to technological innovations in the 21st century," said Michael Levine, the station's marketing director.


The station was one of three nationwide that broadcast a Mozart birthday celebration from Salzburg, Austria, live in January. The month also featured heavy play of the composer's music. How the special programming fared in the ratings is not yet known.


This & That
Following a nationwide trend among daily newspapers to cut costs and conserve newsprint, the Los Angeles Times is cutting its weekday stock and mutual funds offerings in its business section to one page starting Tuesday. The listing will include the 1,300 most heavily traded stocks each day. Complete listings will be available at latimes.com.


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One of Los Angeles' most powerful fashion editors, Women's Wear Daily's West Coast bureau chief Rose Apodaca, is moving on to new endeavors. Apodaca, who won an L.A. Fashion Award last October for her work in raising the profile of L.A.'s fashion industry, is joining her boyfriend in running a new Silver Lake store called A+R. She'll also do consulting.


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Monica Lozano, publisher of the La Opini & #243;n newspaper will be this year's recipient of the Leadership Award from the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners at its 20th annual luncheon on March 17. Lozano is also vice president of Lozano Communications Inc., La Opini & #243;n's parent company, and has been publisher since 2004.


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La Opini & #243;n's Mary Zerafa has been named to the new position of general manager of ImpreMedia Digital, overseeing all Internet and digital initiatives for La Opini & #243;n and the company's other six papers. Zerafa was corporate director of marketing for ImpreMedia and vice president of market development and new media at La Opini & #243;n.


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Los Angeles-based Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. has appointed four executives to help centralize its business for licensing interactive TV listings to makers of digital televisions and recording devices. The company promoted Lydie Levy, formerly managing director for Gemstar-TV Guide Europe, as chief operating officer for the consumer electronics licensing group. Simon Adams, previously deputy managing director for the unit's European division, has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing and sales worldwide. New hires are Thomas Carson, a former Thomson Corp. executive who will run the consumer electronics business in North America, and Akitaka Nishimura, a former Panasonic executive who will head Gemstar Multimedia Ltd. in Japan.


*Staff reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 232, or at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com .

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