10 Questions with ... Jason Kramer
September 12, 2016
1. How did you become interested in radio?
When I was younger, I was always enamored with the radio world. I used to listen to older tapes of legendary broadcasters. I can remember back in the late '80s and '90s, I used to listen to KDAY with DJ JJ Johnson and he would have all local high school kids come on-air and introduce the new track. I really started in radio answering phones as a call screener at KLOS with Uncle Joe Benson. I used to watch, ask questions and learn from such a musical prolific mind.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I was always a fan of KCRW. I can remember working at The Paley Center of Media listening to tapes of the brilliant Rosko from New York when one day, KCRW had a remote broadcast from the museum -- I believe it was with Michael Stipe. I was just blown away with the se-up. From that day on and a few phone calls later, I began volunteering at KCRW.
2. What are your responsibilities at KCRW?
I am a radio broadcaster at KCRW. I produce and DJ a weekly music show every Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
3. How would you describe the music on your own show?
A lot of the music I play is not genre-specific. Sometimes it seems I lean toward British and Australian artists, but that's not always the case. Living in Los Angeles, we are surrounded with such raw musical talent, and I am fortunate to find such cool new artists and songs. I like to focus on new emerging artists and also throw a few older nuggets in the mix.
4. In what ways do you find the music you play?
I spend many hours per day researching music. If it's not a music publication or a feed that pops up, it may come from friends or artists. Let's not forget the radio pluggers and also labels that do an amazing job sending me the next, next. I also like to look at the various platforms like Spotify, Soundcloud, Shazam and blogs to help discover new music. I can see how today's Internet world can definitely shape programming as it's generated from fan and listener engagement.
5. You have been with the station for many years. How has the music side of the KCRW evolved over the years? How has it stayed the same?
I just started my 19th year at KCRW and love every minute of it. I think we have always been on point with discovery of new music. Our flagship show Morning Becomes Eclectic with Jason Bentley leads a lot of our vision at the station. I've been at a few stations in my life and KCRW DJs are some of the best. We are a collective group that shares music and ideas with each other.
The station is constantly evolving musically. We are now in the world of "Virtually Reality." We have scores of live sessions and events that listeners can watch via the new VR app. It is so cool!
6. Have you guys moved into your new studios yet? Tell us about that.
Not yet, but I am really excited. I have seen the photos and also driven by the site a few times. It's going to be state-of-the-art studios.
7. Outside of KCRW, what community initiatives are you involved with?
I have been on a few entertainment boards and committees, such as the Guild of Music Supervisors and also CFF (California Firefighter's Foundation). I have also been involved with various benefit events where I will DJ and or help with music. Currently, I am co-teaching a class at USC after spending the last two fall semesters teaching a music course at UCLA. Previously, I participated in mentorship programs with The Grammys and Fox Music.
8. What new artists are you most excited about?
Always a loaded question because I always feel like I am leaving someone out! Some of the new albums out this month I really like include ZHU, Young The Giant, Honne and Frank Ocean. There is a new band I have been really getting into called Pumarosa. They have this seven-minute song that is so transcending called "Priestess." There is also a young artist to watch named Billie Eilish whose song, "Ocean Eyes," just took off. She has a strong future in music. Now you got me going. Do we have more space?
9. What is the one truth that has held constant throughout your career?
That music is ever growing and never seems to disappoint me. Plus, stepping into a radio station and sitting down at the board and having control over it is such a thrill.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... my morning coffee.
Last non-industry job:
Concept Music Supervisor
First record ever purchased:
Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour) / Bob Marley (Exodus). That was the same day when I was eight
This is funny ... it was Cheap Trick at the Palladium in Los Angeles
Favorite band of all-time:
Well we always go back to our roots. I have such a sweet spot for the band Fishbone.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Outside of radio I work in music, so in the downtime I like to shoot photography and anything not music so I can unwind and start fresh the next day.