Monday, August 15, 2005

Radio as it ought to be

A chance encounter lead me to KCRW, Santa Monica's public listener-supported radio streaming online.

KCRW has a program called "Morning Becomes Eclectic" . As the name suggests, it is an eclectic mix of music from different styles and ranges - electronica, punk, latin and more down-home varieties including folk and country make their appearance here. The key feature of this is that it is music chosen by the anchor Nic Harcourt. Nic Harcourt has gained some fame for having a good nose for music, having been the person to have given artistes of the level of Norah Jones, Dido, Radiohead, Coldplay and Jem their first major breaks on radio (for some of the Brit acts, their major North American break). His taste sure is eclectic, though he has a distinct empathy towards certain sounds (Most of his selections are what you would call easy-listening - no very hard rock or metal or hardcore hip-hop here). But these sounds are wide-ranging, making for interesting and engaging listening.

To top it all off, there is Nic himself. He is really good as an anchor -extremely knowledgeable about music (a major relief after hearing inane chatter on mainstream radio stations - I know more about many of the songs I listen to than the jockeys themselves). His interviewing style is pleasant without being ingratiating, and he asks good questions about the process of songwriting and music-making.

Listening to him on radio made me realize that this is what I want from my music radio programming - good variety of music and gyan about music - not some new reality series or Ashton Kutcher pulling a new joke on someone who's famous for being credited third on some vague TV show, but is considered a 'celebrity'.

The website has a section of performances by a number of great artistes -many of them not so well-known. Give it a spin. If you are interested in good, but not so well-known music, you won't be disappointed.

I recommend: Nikka Costa, Beck, Missy Higgins, Si Se, Jem.

On a similar note, an interview of Nic Harcourt on PBS Frontline, and a great special section on the state of the music industry today

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