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.