The new voice of "Morning Becomes Eclectic" will be familiar to fans of KCRW-FM (89.9), if they like their evenings eclectic, also.
Jason Bentley, host of the public station's nighttime music show, will take over as music director at KCRW and as host of its signature music program when Nic Harcourt leaves both posts Nov. 30.
"I'm excited by this opportunity to grow personally and help grow the station," Bentley said. "It's a place where I've grown up."
Bentley volunteered at the station while in high school and copied the style of former "Morning Becomes Eclectic" host Tom Schnabel when he was a DJ at his college station at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. For the last 16 years, Bentley has hosted his own KCRW show, formerly called "Metropolis," which he described as "the urban pulse at night -- that's a particular mood. Obviously, in the morning, I need to embrace a brighter sound."
"Morning Becomes Eclectic," which airs weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon, is not only the station's highest-profile show, it also has a reach far beyond its morning audience, mainly because among those listeners are Hollywood and music executives with the power to offer contracts to unsigned bands or give artists unheard on other radio stations wide exposure on television and film soundtracks. For example, Harcourt has been credited with bringing notice to Coldplay, Norah Jones, Dido and Damien Rice.
The show celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and former hosts Schnabel and Chris Douridas still host weekend shows on KCRW. Likewise, Harcourt will host his own program Sundays from 6 to 9 p.m.
KCRW General Manager Ruth Seymour called Bentley "the prodigal son." When she hired Douridas and Harcourt, she went outside the station. But "this time, I was lucky," she said.
In his other role as the station's music director, Bentley said he wants to encourage relationships with what he called KCRW's "cultural partners," such as the L.A. Philharmonic, UCLA Live and REDCAT.
Bentley has also been music supervisor for the "Matrix" movies and a music producer and executive.
"It makes sense to go with somebody familiar with the audience," Harcourt said. "It's a great choice."
Harcourt, who wants to leave the daily KCRW gig to pursue his own projects, arrived there a decade ago from an alternative station in Woodstock, N.Y. He said he didn't want to give Bentley advice; he only repeated what he told those who warned him that, in replacing Douridas, he had big shoes to fill: "I brought my own." And Bentley said he felt no pressure, even with Schnabel, Douridas and Harcourt still at the station.
"These were the first phone calls I got" after the announcement, he said, "to say, 'Hey, I'm here for you.' "