The most familiar voice on what is arguably Los Angeles’ most influential radio station, KCRW, is about to exit his two key roles there. Jason Bentley, who had served for a decade as the station’s music director and inheritor of the key “Morning Becomes Eclectic” slot, will step aside at the conclusion of his August 30 show, it was announced Thursday.
The move does not come as a surprise to anyone who’d read the tea leaves — or just recent news stories about the changes in store as KCRW moved to a new $38 million studio and looked to rebrand for the future in the face of stiffer competition. In a Los Angeles Times story in March, Bentley said he was at “the tail end” of his time at KCRW and had mused: “There’s a magic here that I definitely am going to miss.”
A press release from the public radio station used the words “Jason Bentley to Complete Tenure” to describe his impending departure from the station, with KCRW president Jennifer Ferro saying in her statements that there is a roughly 10-year lifespan that has worked well for Bentley and the figureheads who have preceded him in that role.
Bentley was named music director and took over the wide-ranging “Morning Becomes Eclectic” in 2008. He started at the station as a volunteer in 1988 and took on his first on-air role with a weekend shift in 1992.
His 27-year run on the air at the station is not completely coming to an end: Bentley will remain on KCRW for one shift a week, as host of “Metropolis,” his long-running Saturday night EDM-oriented show.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve this community, working closely with musicians and local arts institutions, and helping shape the sound of the greatest radio station on Earth,” Bentley said in a statement. “Now, I’m excited to explore new directions and make way for KCRW’s continued success.”
He’s not likely to go unemployed anytime soon, with or without a gig at KCRW: Bentley has been in demand over the years for high-profile DJ gigs at major show-biz events, from Sundance to the Emmys, and he fulfills A&R and music supervision functions outside of the station. “The Matrix” is among his film credits.
“Every Music Director at KCRW has made their lasting mark on KCRW and Jason is no different,” Ferro said in a statement. “His radio-perfect voice and impeccable music taste has inspired so many. Jason’s attention to detail and programming instinct made a true impact here. I know he leaves KCRW in a better place and am excited to see what else he does next.”
Bentley’s time at the station saw a dramatic shift toward the music of DJ culture, with a bent toward EDM and ambient music. In the wake of a deemphasis on singer/songwriter-type styles, more traditional rock sounds were picked up by a public radio rival to the north, KCSN in Northridge, which hired Bentley’s predecessor, Nic Harcourt, as well as KCRW alumnus Gary Calamar. KCRW has faced competition on the talk front, meanwhile, from KPCC in Pasadena.