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Morning Becomes Eclectic 30th Anniversary Interviews: Liza Richardson

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When Chris Douridas moved from Dallas to take over "Morning Becomes Eclectic" at KCRW, his first hire was Liza Richardson. Liza's had a varied career at the station, hosting multiple shows over the years and her musical choices are as varied as her resume.

She currently hosts Saturday night's "The Drop" from 9pm to midnight. She specializes in underground music and limited releases on vinyl.

Continuing our series on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of "Morning Becomes Eclectic," Richardson tells us a few things about passion, switching and the time of day.

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LAist: You traffic in vinyl on "The Drop," but recently there's been a lot of talk about the upgrades to the KCRW music library. What effect, if any, will the digitization of the music library change your show? Might you eschew the new system and stick to CDs and vinyl?

Richardson: I’ll just have to take more prep time. It will be a big learning curve, but there will be a lot of good things about it that I’ll just have to get used to. I’ll still play vinyl, but I’ll play it in a digital format, if that makes any sense.

LAist: Speaking of new technology, how has the Internet changed the way you source new music? Do you use sites like MySpace, iTunes or PodShow's music network to find new music and/or do bands find you via those same sites?

Richardson: I use the Internet constantly — no paucity of research at my place every day. I check out taste-making sites such as Other Music, DJhistory.com and Picadilly. I use MySpace, iTunes as a reference (but I don’t buy music on iTunes because it’s copy-protected and my job requires me to share music with clients and directors). I search blogs, Scott Perry’s New Music Tip Sheet, charts, Google, Allmusic, performance society sites, whatever.

People reach out to me on MySpace but it’s impossible to respond to unsolicited music and all the unfiltered junk I get all the time. Good music finds its way to me in more traditional ways – I hear about it from friends, read about it in my research, or it gets sent to my office with a proper presentation, or from someone I have a relationship with, who I trust and they know me and my taste.

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LAist: You're a radio DJ, a live DJ (to the stars!), a music supervisor for films & commercials and a surfer among other things. Where does your passion lie? Which job would you keep if you had to give up all the others?

Richardson: I’m passionate about a lot of things: love, my dog, dance, music, the ocean, the beach, surf, radio, film, tv, interior design, fashion. Surfing’s not a job, but if it was, I’d gladly give up the rest to surf all day for the rest of my life, you bet!

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LAist: KCRW and MBE in particular are well known for giving new and unsigned artists their first airplay. Of those who you've debuted, which was your favorite (whether or not they were everyone else's fave)?

Richardson: LCD Soundsystem. I was at Wax Records on Melrose. I listened to it in the store, nabbed it and played it that night!

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LAist: The New York Times referred to KCRW as a "purveyor of semipopular music." How do you fit (or not fit) this description?

Richardson: It’s pretty accurate, I think. I love to play extremely popular music when its really great, as it often is. For instance I’m into the new Eve & Sean Paul single right now and I think it fits my show. It’s got a reggae feeling with Spanish guitars — luv it. I kinda go super-underground and then commercial like that and everywhere in between for sure!

LAist: How has the change from being a "local" radio show to being an international broadcast changed how you do your show?

Richardson: What I don’t do, that I used to do, is say the time of day during my breaks, because obviously it’s a different time of day for every listener now around the world. That’s about it. Other than that, I still announce local events on my show and it hasn’t changed the music. I’ve always played music from Europe or Japan and I’m still doing that. It hasn’t changed the music selection, but it has changed my awareness of who might be tuning in and kicking out the jams!

LAist: You were featured as one of Apple's "switchers" in their campaign to get folks to switch from Windows to Mac. What would you say to convince someone, who doesn't listen to your show or to KCRW in general, to become a "switcher"?

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Richardson: In the Mac ad I think my message was “it just works” (brilliant, I know) – so how about with KCRW something like, “it’s just better.” KCRW to me is an incredible resource as a listener, researcher, music supervisor, DJ etc, because you hear all the new cutting edge buzz stuff but you also hear things that sound familiar and feel good in a cuddly, nostalgic kind of way. That’s what I love about KCRW — it’s really the sound of now. Nothing extremely exciting gets past us! When I listen to KCRW, I can be sure I’m going to get some fresh tips on what’s happening out there. I’ll throw them in my tote and drop them on The Drop!

Photo by Marc Goldstein, seated photo by KCRW

Apple Switchers Ad Featuring Liza Richardson

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Earlier interviews in this series:

Monday, September 3, 2007 - Nic Harcourt
Tuesday, September 4, 2007 - Chris Douridas