From its new $38-million home, can radio tastemaker KCRW adapt to a podcast world?
Latimes.com - Fri 15 Mar 19:59 GMT

Radio powerhouse KCRW is moving from its longtime basement home to a $38-million media center. But with terrestrial radio no longer monopolizing drive-time, what is the station's role as podcasts grow? And against all-talk competitors is its mix of music and …

From its new $38-million home, can radio tastemaker KCRW adapt to a podcast world?

  Behind the scenes, Bentley recently shuffled the schedule and replaced a few DJs, part of what he calls breaking up the concrete of the music programming that largely set the template for public radio music.Within the ragtag rooms of KCRWs old headquarters, hundreds of artists, including Adele, Coldplay and Radiohead, earned some of their first major exposure during the stations 80 hours of weekly music programming.

  Now, everybody's racing to do audio.Jason Bentley, KCRW music director and host of the station's flagship music show "Morning Becomes Eclectic" at the station's old basement offices at Santa Monica City College.If Ferro seems eager to advance the dark-to-daylight symbolism, its partly because the evolution sheds light on some of the successes that have come under her guidance.

  Comedic actor Harry Shearer, who started his long-running Le Show at KCRW, once described Franks style like a fist coming out of the radio.From a business perspective, though, the mix of NPR-style programming and free-form music has been tough to square in recent years.It doesn't make sense from the public radio model to have both talk and music on the exact same station, Ferro says of KCRWs unique challenge.Southern California Public Radio, KCRWs cross-town competitor, operates KPCC and is thriving.

  It would be more successful for public radio to be all talk, she says, adding that the stations hard-won success at maintaining, in essence, two different styles of audience is an anomaly and it's not duplicated anywhere else across the country.It doesnt help that NPRs own music vertical, NPR Music, has, since its birth 12 years ago, at times seemed to compete with KCRW for the same ears and exclusives.