Former KCRW host puts his stamp on MTV, 'Guitar Center Sessions'
When Nic Harcourt, one of the last remaining big-name tastemakers left on terrestrial radio, ankled as musical director of L.A.’s KCRW and host of its “Morning Becomes Eclectic” program in 2008, it amounted to the end of an era — a decade in which he became arguably the most influential DJ in the country.
With the KCRW show still thriving under the auspices of new host Jason Bentley, Harcourt has nonetheless kept plenty busy, helming a radio show on KCSN while running his SamLuna Media company. But it is with two new ventures that the music curator is embarking on what he calls the “next phase” of his career.
Last spring, Harcourt joined MTV as the network’s first music supervisor in residence. He will serve as song selector for upcoming scripted shows such as “I Just Want My Pants Back,” as well as consulting for the MTV-Extreme Music joint project Hype Production Music, which seeks to place unsigned artists’ music in MTV Networks programming.
Meanwhile, he’s serving as host for DirecTV’s “Guitar Center Sessions,” which broadcasts out of the music chain’s Hollywood store, combining musical performances from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Blondie and Bad Religion alongside often-revealing interviews between Harcourt and the musicians.
“I’m not directly involved in the booking. What I have been able to do is make suggestions,” Harcourt said of his “Guitar Center” role, noting with particular pride the part he played in ushering SoCal indie bands Delta Spirit and Saint Motel onto the platform.
For now, Harcourt seems to enjoy his more laidback role with the program, which has seen him branch into music far outside what would have been his comfort zone during his “Morning Becomes Eclectic” tenure.
“It’s exciting to sit down with Peter Frampton, who I’d never played in my entire career in radio,” Harcourt said. “I would never have envisioned myself interviewing (Social Distortion’s) Mike Ness, but that was such a good interview. … It’s the unexpected things that make the show, like when Debbie Harry starts talking about smoking weed in bed, and you just have to be prepared for it.”
As for his position with MTV, Harcourt noted that his overall role is still coming into shape.
Though the network has weathered some withering criticism in the past over its surrender of a music-based format in favor of reality skeins, MTV’s recent ventures into the international music sphere with its Iggy platform, as well as the Hype Production venture, seem to reflect a concerted effort to bring more eclectic music back into its programming — a trend Harcourt hopes to be a part of.
“I’m sure they’ll keep on dragging ‘Jersey Shore’ into the ground, but they really are trying to bring a degree of music back through these scripted shows,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to put unsigned indie bands out there into the world.”
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