It’s Quits. Jason Bentley Shuts Down Metropolis on KCRW

I wanted to send my favorite DJ, Jason Bentley, an email which was essentially this post. But he’s pretty much never going to get the email with the amount of mail he gets. SOOOO, on the blog it goes. And for this post I have to explain a bunch of stuff that he already knows. So let’s start with the basics. JB is a DJ on KCRW. How’s that for a bunch of initials! His 7:30 PM to 10 PM show has specialized in “electronic dance music” on the Santa Monica College “school station.” That’s one of way describing his/our type of music. And that’s one of describing that so-called school station. He is my favorite DJ, not just because of the music, but his delivery. In fact I like other things too, like his passion for music and the lack of interruptions he allows on his show.

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I heard the news a few days ago, and not to bring up a sad event, but it hit me like another KCRW tragedy. It’s a far more serious event, but the death of Warren Kolodny. When I first moved to LA in the mid-90’s I quickly discovered KCRW and KXLU. And then, as now, I pretty much listen to the KXLU during the day and KCRW on nights and the weekend. KXLU does basic college rock for most of the day and middle of the night (and I hear it’s where JB got is LA start after his move from Boston). Whereas KCRW used to have some interesting evening shows, then sort of didn’t, and now have some late evening shows that are JB clones-but I’ll get to that in a second.

So I got to LA and found Bentley doing his Metropolis show and at the time he had some demo tapes form a group called Underworld, and having grown up in Chicago when House music was invented, I was pretty well versed in dance music. Also having spent 10 years living in Manhattan prior to moving to LA I was pretty well versed in hip hop, and club music-not to mention my youth in punk and metal. BUT, no matter how much guitar music I thrived on, I had never given up on beat-centric music. So Jason’s show caught my ear RIGHT AWAY. As did another show, by a man named Warren Kolodny. At the time Warren was doing a show with music that I’ve heard described as “cocktail” music or “space age bachelor pad” or “exotica.” Anyway I took to his show right his show too, so those were my main shows. And then one day I heard Warren was dead. Apparently it was a suicide. Kinda shocking and I think it might have been the first time that a radio show had left me rather than the other way around. And for such a heavy reason.

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The ironic thing about Jason is that I recently discovered a training series he’s hosted on Lynda.com’s website about musical inspiration. And at first I laughed in disbelief. But then I realized how perfect it is for him to be doing that. He IS an inspiring guy, and it doesn’t really need to be pointed out how inspiring music is. In fact the reason I listen to the radio almost round the clock is because I do creative work the music inspires me to NO END. I write specific things based on the music I’m hearing-and Jason’s music choices have not just shaped my work but the COUNTRY’S musical taste. That’s right. Did you know he did the musical selection for the Matrix? All that cool music when Neo is flying through the air over Orpheus’ head in the kung fu scene, or that cool as music when they start shooting up the mezzanine-that’s Jason! And every time you hear some cool iPod commercial or car commercial or tons of other things-it’s all inspired by Jason’s show. The show is in LA and they DO make all that stuff IN LA. Clearly I’m not the only person listening to the radio when I create.

So when Metropolis first started it really was a lone voice in the night. I mean I knew where to get electronic music or where to find stations on the internet that were broadcasting it, but that type of music wasn’t really “out there” for the general public. And tonight on his show he said he’s been doing it for 16 years and yeah, that’s a long time. I mean really it is. So, despite my sense of personal loss, I can’t fault the guy for moving on. He’s going to do the Morning Becomes Eclectic show AND become the Musical Director for the station. And I think it’s really the MD position that’s prompting the move, not the format change in his show. He’s been an enlisted man long enough, time to become an officer. And electronic music is safe. I mean the war is over. That music is no longer on the outskirts of society. It’s infused and integrated, hell some people would even say it came and went. But I wouldn’t say that-the Basement Jaxx will STILL blow you away and Sam Taylor Wood’s new I’m in Love with a German Film Star will be a minor classic. But as I mentioned earlier, KCRW now has half a dozen Bentley-lite clones that do dance music in the late evening. None of them are as good as JB, but you can still hear that kind of music. But still, The End of an Era. There is some good news though; did you know that JB does a Saturday night show on KROQ called After Hours? Well he does, and one can assume that since it’s the same format as Metropolis it’ll be a pretty strong show since it’s only the once a week [hold that thought-it’s a few days later and JB just announced he’s quitting After Hours too after the Nov 30th show].

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