Introducing Blend // Headlines: Rebel Makes News

Blend InviteBlend kicks off this Thursday, October 15. This is an original concept I've been developing and I'm very excited to share it with you. I grew up around music and DJs. Used to spend much of the week looking forward to what was coming out on Tuesday, and then rush to the store with whatever money I had to make sure I was up on the latest vinyl. More recently, I would spend at least 5 nights a week listening, dancing, and connecting. These days, I've given up late nights for early morning yoga and quality time with friends. The appeal of keg cups and Patron shots have been replaced by a good glass of wine.

But good wine is hard to find, with more than 5,000 producers in the US, and several times that when you add in Europe, South America, etc. Wine marketing does a really poor job at helping us navigate the choices available, and the experts' appeal is limited mainly to the hard core. For those of us who like wine but aren't ready to make the commitment of taking classes or lots of trial and error, the simple task of having something enjoyable to drink can be pretty frustrating.

Enter Blend - debuting Thursday, October 15th at 7pm - which combines wine tasting with top DJs in stylish venues. Wines are selected by Erik Kelley of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, and once America's youngest sommelier. Music is selected by KCRW's Garth Trinidad, who collaborates with Erik on pairing — of sorts — the wine with the music.

We are grateful to have Puma as a charter sponsor, premiering the new AFRICA collection on Thursday. Our host venue is The Celebrity Vault, a Beverly Hills gallery specializing in contemporary art and iconic photographs of celebrities. Really cool stuff to look at.

We have a couple surprises planned as well, so I'd love it if you would come out and let us know what you think. Your feedback is essential as we grow this brand.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. There's also a VIP ticket available at $75. You can see all the details and purchase tickets at www.blendwineandmusic.com

Jason Bentley // Down With Us

If you haven't already heard, Jason Bentley has been made music director at KCRW and host of the station's popular Morning Becomes Eclectic (MBE) show. Jason has been with the station for more than a decade as host of the Metropolis dance music show, in addition to hosting a similar show on KROQ, doing regular club DJ gigs, and music supervision for movies, TV shows, and commercials. The dude stays busy. Why do I care? I've known Jason since we both worked at URB in 1994. He's not only a great DJ, but one of the nicer guys you might run into. KCRW is probably the country's best radio station. That's not such high praise, as there really isn't much else to listen to. But it not only plays good music, it consistently expands the boundaries of our musical experience. MBE is a great example of this. Can you imagine your local station having a morning show that doesn't stick to one genre? That doesn't allow itself to be force fed by an industry that has no clue what to do to survive? That doesn't play the same 20 records over and over until you want to slam your car into something just to make it stop?

I find it fascinating that while radio numbers continue to take a beating year over year, the old guys who run that industry will spend years pointing fingers at XM, iPod, cellphones, and whatever else they can think of not to have to take responsibility. But KCRW stands out as a beacon to those of us who believe in standing for something.

Why should you care? KCRW is a great brand. It's both locally and globally relevant. It gives its members (customers) a sense of ownership, encourages conversation, it creates multiple opportunities for participating in its community (on-air, online, events, retail products), and it definitely models the concept of contribution.

Jason Bentley is also a pretty good brand. Through the multiple channels I listed above, he creates consistently positive experiences for his audience and approaches that relationship with a high degree of respect. Actually, I'd like to see him leverage his brand in some additional ways, but that's another story.

We can all learn a lot from both of them. Congratulations to Jason and KCRW.