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UPDATE: KCRW's Nic Harcourt steps down

November 10, 2008 | 10:57 am

Nic Harcourt, the music director of Santa Monica-based public radio station KCRW-FM (89.9), tells The Times he will step down Nov. 30. Harcourt has presided over KCRW's nationally known "Morning Becomes Eclectic" music program for 10 years.

Harcourt won't be completely splitting from the station -- he will continue to host a three-hour music program on Sunday evenings. "As a parent of two young children, I believe it’s time for me to explore new career opportunities and expand upon my other activities in movie, television, voiceover work, advertising and the Internet," Harcourt is quoted as saying in a statement released today.

Reached by phone in the midst of Monday's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," Harcourt says he will host the show through Thanksgiving. After that, he will concentrate on building his own business, Samluna Media. 

"It’s not the politician’s thing, like, ‘Oh, I’m spending more time with my kids'," Harcourt says. "The bottom line is I’ve been in public radio for 10 years, and regardless of how great my job is, I make public radio money, and I have two 5-year-olds. I have to think about their future ... I’m going to be busy. I’m looking forward to building some equity for myself."

Outside of KCRW, Harcourt has been active in music supervision roles in film and television. He was behind the music on the short-lived CBS series "Love Monkey" and has worked on such films as "Ice Age," "Igby Goes Down" and "Anchorman." Currently, Harcourt is serving as a music supervisor on The CW's "90210."

"It’s expanded my musical palate, to be honest with you," Harcourt says. "You can sort of get known as the cool guy at KCRW, but at '90210,' you have to find songs that will turn on an 18-year-old girl. So what we’re doing with that show is featuring artists like Rihanna, Pink, Lady Gaga and people like that. At the same time, we’re putting cool stuff in where we can. We had Stereolab in last week’s show."

With Harcourt at the helm, "Morning Becomes Eclectic," which first aired in 1977, became a nationally known brand, one that's attached to concerts, compilation CDs and music events around the country. KCRW, for instance, is one of the most prominent brands featured at the annual South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas.

"Morning Becomes Eclectic" has been instrumental in supporting the careers of a number of developing and independent artists. In this morning's statement, Harcourt himself takes credit for "introducing artists" such as Coldplay, Damien Rice, Dido and Norah Jones to a wider audience. Even before Harcourt took over "Eclectic" hosting duties from Chris Douridas in 1998, the morning show was known for helping launch the career of Beck.

Harcourt does not have a debut date for his Sunday program, which will be a three-hour show beginning at 6 p.m. It will replace the syndicated "Sounds Eclectic," which currently airs Sunday evenings as a two-hour mix of the best of the past week's "Morning Becomes Eclectic." Harcourt says there are no plans to syndicate his new Sunday show.

"It’s been a labor of love," Harcourt says of the syndicated "Sounds Eclectic." "It never really picked up that much traction."

Harcourt and "Morning Becomes Eclectic" have won praise from music industry executives. "It gives a stamp of approval that is unimpeachable,"  Jason Flom, former chairman/CEO of Capitol Music Group, told The Times last year. "People know that you can't do anything to influence Nic, other than have great music that he responds to. It's watched by lots of people throughout the industry."

In the same story, Jeff Antebi, founder and CEO of the Waxploitation label and management firm, credited the station for giving crucial exposure to his client Gnarls Barkley, whose "Crazy" became the biggest hit of 2006. "Very few programs have as big an impact as 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' on the film and TV industry, which is one of the few growth areas for music," he says.

KCRW General Manager Ruth Seymour says the non-profit is "in the process of choosing a new music director." An announcement, according to the station, can be expected in the coming weeks.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times