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Nic Harcourt: KCRW misrepresented my departure

The veteran DJ says it was his desire to take on a show at rival KCSN that led to the split, not his duties at MTV.

June 18, 2011|By Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times
  • Nic Harcourt
Nic Harcourt (Los Angeles Times )

Veteran KCRW-FM (89.9) DJ Nic Harcourt said Friday that his abrupt departure from the station this week has nothing to do with focusing his energy on another job he's taken with MTV, as station management announced Thursday, but rather on his desire to host a show at another Southland public radio station, Cal State Northridge-based KCSN-FM (88.5).

"The reality was I was going to do a show on a little radio station in the Valley that's not even paying me," KCRW's former music director and longtime host of the taste-making morning show "Morning Becomes Eclectic" said in an interview. Harcourt said he felt "disappointed to be misrepresented" by KCRW's characterization of his departure.

"I'm being portrayed in a way that's not accurate or fair," Harcourt told The Times. "I'm not the kind of person who jumps up and down about things, but if somebody portrays me in a certain way that is untrue, I feel it's important to respond to that.

"I felt somewhat violated, that somewhere I worked for 12 years, somewhere I built an awful lot of stuff, that they would, at the end of the day, try and restrict what I could do," said Harcourt, who also expressed disappointment that he wasn't able to do a farewell show.

KCRW General Manager Jennifer Ferro said Friday that "we didn't say anything that's not true: He is leaving and he is at MTV. We totally support him and we're going to miss him.... I love Nic, I think he's an amazing DJ and honestly he's one of the great classic DJs. They don't make them like that anymore. I'm really sad personally that he decided to go.

"If just about any other DJ left, we would not have put out a press release," Ferro said. "But people care that Nic was going, and he's such a pillar of KCRW history, we put out a press release. The fact he didn't know about it, that's my bad."

Harcourt stepped down in 2008 after nearly a decade as KCRW's music director and "Morning Becomes Eclectic" host, posts in which he was succeeded by Jason Bentley. Harcourt retained a weekly KCRW show Sunday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.

In March, MTV hired him as the network's first music supervisor in residence to help identify new talent. It's a role for which Harcourt had been widely respected at KCRW, giving early radio exposure to acts such as Death Cab for Cutie, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand and others. MTV also has tapped him as a creative consultant for a new joint venture with Extreme Music called Hype Production Music, a company looking to sign indie and other unsigned artists with the aim of placing their music in movies, TV and elsewhere.

KCSN is the largely automated station at CSUN that changed formats last year after playing predominantly classical music for more than 20 years, to an adult album alternative, or AAA, format. Veteran L.A. rock radio programmer Sky Daniels was hired in June as new program and music director as part of an overall move "to be the best AAA station in Los Angeles," KCSN General Manager Karen Kearns said Friday.

Kearns said Harcourt's show on KCSN is targeted to start this summer amid a number of other moves the station is making to help increase its presence on the crowded L.A. radio dial.

Harcourt said he and Daniels met on Monday and discussed the possibility of Harcourt hosting a show. He said he told Ferro of his intention and was told he would have to choose between the two stations because he would not be allowed to do both.

"I was thinking, 'Wouldn't it be cool to go do a radio show there?,' not expecting for one second this would blow up into what it has," Harcourt said. "It's a storm in a teacup, but in our little world it's blown up into something that didn't have to happen.

"I wear a lot of different hats to pay my bills," said Harcourt, who also hosts the "Guitar Center Sessions" interview and performance series for DirecTV and has served as music supervisor for TV shows including "90210," "Queer as Folk" and "Life as We Know It." "You try to hold onto your integrity and credibility the best you can. It's a tough time for people in the creative community.

"I've done radio for a long time," he said, referencing his background at a commercial station in Woodstock, N.Y., for nine years before joining KCRW in 1998. "It's still a really important thing to me even though I don't do it every day."

randy.lewis@latimes.com

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