Talk Talk: KCRW Music Director and 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' Host Jason Bentley (Part 2)

KCRW music director Jason Bentley and I chatted for so long, that I was left with little choice but to split the Q&A into two parts. Part one is here, and enjoy, if you will, part the second, where we talk about upcoming Morning Becomes Eclectic guests, the Stars of Santa Barbara benefit event at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa tomorrow (Wednesday, June 24) and more.

Q: What acts coming up on MBE are you looking forward to?

A: Phoenix [June 29] is going to be awesome. Adele is going to stop in on Friday the 26th. Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are coming on Monday, the 6th of July. They're really cool. They're three teenagers from England who do kind of an American rockabilly thing. They're opening for Coldplay on their stadium tour. they do a mix of originals and covers of rockabilly songs. It's just an interesting mix, because they're English, they're teenagers, they're siblings. Ray LaMontagne is going to come on the 10th of July. We're trying to confirm Grace Jones on the 24th.

Q: As a former music director myself, at, uh, my college radio station, I know that duties vary from place to place. What kind of behind-the-scenes stuff does the MD job entail at KCRW, where DJs are all picking out their own music?

A: You've still got to manage those folks and be their biggest cheerleader and harshest critic, in an effort to make everybody the best they can be. Also it's about some kind of continuity in the station, musically. If we all rally around artists we much such a big difference together. If we are fragmented, and we're all just doing completely different things--that's fine, and that is what it is, and I'll never tell people what to play, but I want to build the communication tools internally so we are aware of what each of us is doing, and I think that makes a stronger foundation for us overall. I don't really tell them specifically that they need to be playing; I want them to be aware of the difference they can make for new music. Bands that are coming to town. If they have a new record out, we're going to promote that record. I recruited Henry Rollins when Indie 103.1 went under. He's been a handful. He's kind of a crazy person, and I love him, but in terms of like, managing his brilliance, it's been an ongoing thing.

Q: What kind of tunes can wine-tasters expect to hear on Wednesday?

A: I don't know exactly. but the nice thing about DJing in 2009 is that we have laptops and external hard drives and basically weeks and months of music. Not that I want my set to go that long, but there's a world of possibilities. Gone are the days of picking out your vinyl and your CDs, having to lug those and be limited to that. Now there's just unlimited potential. what a DJ does is read the situation and try and support that subtle layer, that layer of the experience of music that you can kind of set a tone and build on that and see where people are willing to go. I won't completely know until I get down there. Since I'm immersed in that world, I kind of have a general palate ready, of course, and you sort of work on it and see what's going down. I think from my sense of that event that I'll probably be keeping a general sophistication--maybe a little world music, some sort of jazz influences in the groove. See how up-tempo they want to take it. If people are responsive, if they want to dance. If people are getting liquored up, then we can party.

Q: And there's talk of coming back to Orange County for a bigger event in the fall, right?

A: Part of an ongoing conversation with the [Orange County Performing Arts Center]. We did something with them last year and it was great. I was really pleased with the audience response. Orange County is an important audience for us, and we don't really do enough to come out. I think it comes down to hours of the day, limited resources. I want to find more opportunities to be present there.


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