Jason Bentley, KCRW-FM’s new Music Director, is no newcomer to the station. He’s hosted an evening music show, Metropolis, since 1992 and is well known around Los Angeles as a club DJ, mixer, producer, and music consultant.
Bentley now finds himself stepping up to the board where previous music directors Tom Schnabel, Chris Douridas, and Nic Harcourt helped to establish KCRW not just as an NPR flagship station that plays a variety of music, but as a taste-making media outlet. Like his predecessors, Bentley will be hosting the popular morning show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, which has become increasingly important to the music industry for breaking new artists in many genres.
Anticipating the start of his new gig on December 1, Bentley chatted with the Mirror about his longtime connection to KCRW.
“Growing up, KCRW and NPR was always on in my home,” says Bentley. “I was always drawn to the music, especially. At that time, it was Tom Schnabel (original host of Morning Becomes Eclectic). He had a very imaginative and worldly view of music and he really championed the whole world beat movement from the late ‘80s into the 90s.”
Bentley began volunteering at the station in 1988, right after high school. His task was to answer phones. When he went to college on the East Coast, he worked at his college’s station where he sought to emulate KCRW’s programming with a world music show called Nomad.
Returning to California, he transferred to Loyola Marymount University, where he worked at KXLU. At a KCRW-KXLU softball game in 1991 (Bentley remembers KCRW winning), he met Chris Douridas, who “recruited” him for more work at KCRW. He volunteered for shows such as the late Deirdre O’Donahue’s nighttime show SNAP, “which was great alternative rock and she was amazing.
“I still come across CDs in our library that have my handwriting, because when we acquired CDs, we marked them to identify them. It’s funny to see my own handwriting on CDs from ’91 and ’92.”
Bentley began his own show, Metropolis, described as “the hypnotic pulse of modern city life,” in 1992. He became closely connected with the dance scene in Los Angeles, DJ-ing events at clubs, parties, and museums. He branched out into other areas, working as the music supervisor for the film The Matrix, as a music executive for Quango Music Group and Madonna’s Maverick imprint, and as a music producer and remixer.
He consults for the LA Philharmonic on special events at the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Hall. He has served for two terms on the Board of Governors of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and is involved in the committees that choose the Grammy Awards. Earlier this year, Bentley DJ’d at the Academy Awards’ Governor’s Ball, and more recently, he headlined the official election night party for President Elect Barack Obama in Los Angeles at the Hyatt Century Plaza.
What with being so strongly identified with urban/dance/electronica and world music, what sound will Bentley bring to Morning Becomes Eclectic?
“There’s definitely a urban quality to what I do and I will bring that to the morning show,” he says. “But I also think that I will have to re-invent myself to a certain extent.
“There is something about the night that I was tapping into and that was the foundation for my show. Morning is very different. I will have to grow and adapt and honestly figure out what that means.”
Morning Becomes Eclectic is heard Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.- noon on KCRW-FM (89.9).