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KJLH, whose signal was originally licensed to Long Beach, California, but relocated to Compton, debuted with a R&B format in 1979, the year Stevie Wonder purchased the station from its original owner, John Lamar Hill, thus the call letter's origins. It was Wonder who gave KJLH its on-air slogan to match the call letters, which stand for "Kindness, Joy, Love & Happiness."
During its first eight years, KJLH enjoyed modest success as a R&B/Urban station and a great familiarity with the African-American community. But it was hampered by the fact that the station was on a Class-A FM signal, which meant their signal was limited to the central and southern portions of Los Angeles County (Including Downtown and South Central Los Angeles), while in other areas like the San Fernando Valley the signal would either fade out or be scratchy, depending on where you would hear the station (despite a signal upgrade from 2.25 kW to 5.6 kW in 2000). They were also (At the time, from the late 1970s up to the late 1980s) one of five R&B/Urban stations in the market who targeted the African-American community during its tenure, along with AMs KGFJ and KDAY and FMs KACE and KUTE. Of the four that since flipped formats, only the KDAY calls have since been revived, but on the FM side as the market's only Urban/Hip-Hop station to date, and like KJLH they also have limited signal coverage.
In 1986 KJLH would pick up an unlikely competitor that would deal them their first major blow: KPWR. When that station debuted Wonder retaliated by cutting new imaging and liners in the hopes of retaining their listener base, but that tactic backfired as they began to see its audience going over to the full-powered Power 106 and would never recover. Its second setback would be the 1990 debut of KKBT, whose evolution to a R&B/Hip-Hop direction would result in KJLH going into a more Mainstream Urban direction in 1992 under the programing of Frankie Ross (who was terminated from the station in late 2003) and renamed the station KJLH Rhythm 102.3 but that tactic backfired also. KJLH went through a great deal of turmoil as a Mainstream Urban Station with poor ratings during 1993-95. In November 1995 former morning jock Cliff Winston was appointed to PD and bought KJLH into its current Urban AC direction and increased its playlist with Urban Smooth Jazz Crossovers, R&B Oldies, Current R&B and Gospel crossovers and was one of urban stations in L.A. to embrace the Neo Soul genre which was popular at the time.
They would get more competition by 2001 when KCMG dropped rhythmic oldies to become KHHT (Hot 92.3). That move would lead to rumors that KJLH would flip to an all-gospel music format, but the station decided not to make a format change. But the rumors came back once again, as in 2006 more competition awaited KJLH as KKBT dropped their R&B/hip-hop direction to go adult R&B (and six months later change their calls to KRBV with a new branding), giving the market 3 stations with the same format, thus once again more speculation of KJLH abandoning Urban AC for Gospel Music, but as of right now, that has not happened.
Through all this, KJLH's selling point has been a devotion to the community it serves. It has an extensive lineup of religious programming, including gospel music weekday mornings and all day Sundays. KJLH is also the only adult R&B station with a continuous live and local air staff. Plus, most of KJLH's on air staff has been with KJLH longer than rivals KHHT and especially KRBV, which has seen multiple turnovers.
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