Inquiring ears want to know: What sort of presence — and, more pointedly, what sorts of sounds — will the new host of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic bring to the airwaves when he takes over on Monday? Will he continue to refer to the time of day, as Chris Douridas did, as “the 11 o’clock hour”? Will his definition of eclectic include the Cranberries? And will the show ever, just once, rock, just for a teensy moment?
Speaking from his soon-to-be-ex-home in Woodstock, New York — and in the KCRW standard staid articulation but with added British accent — Nic Harcourt sounds happy to be getting out of commercial radio. “One of the things I’ve done over the years doing a morning drive-time show is develop an on-air personality of being a little bit of a rebel and saying what I think. Now and then I’ll get sick of a record and I’ll break it. Yesterday I broke the Matchbox 20 CD. That was fun.”
Meet KCRW’s newly appointed creative music director and host of its flagship music show: He’s a white guy, 40, born and raised in Birmingham, England, where he was first music-smitten by the Beatles singles his journalist father brought home. Next came glitter rock: Bowie, T. Rex, Sweet (his first concert was Gary Glitter), followed by hard rockers Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath during teenagehood. He comes from WDST in Woodstock, where for the past five years he’s been program director and drive-time host.
Now that his programming can reflect his personal tastes, what will he be bringing from home to the studio? When asked to reveal what’s on his own CD player, Harcourt rattles off the new Pulp, Morcheeba and Bernard Butler albums, plus the Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan/Michael Brooks remixes — a sampling that could easily be mistaken for a Douridas playlist. “When you’re programming commercial radio that’s hit-driven, and every single week you’re being hounded by record labels to get the latest Matchbox 20 album on the air, you tend to not have that much time to listen to music as a listener,” he says. “I’m already beginning to feel like I’m slowing down out of that vibe and getting back into listening to albums again.”
As far as his own “eclectic” definition, Harcourt will say only that “anything goes” will be his motto at KCRW. “Chris and I are different guys, we grew up in different places,” he says. “I don’t see that I’m going to be coming in and making huge changes, but just by the fact that I grew up in Birmingham and he grew up in Dallas or somewhere, we bring something different.” Stay tuned.
So what’s his first song on the air going to be? “I’ve thought about it and I’ve changed my mind a few times,” he says. “I thought about making some kind of statement with a song and then I thought, you know, maybe the night before, just pick a song. I’ve thought about the Beatles.”