KJLH (102.3 FM) is an Urban Adult Contemporary radio station serving the Los Angeles area. It plays R&B and classic soul music under the format, and occasionally plays some Hip-Hop, Gospel and Smooth Jazz tracks. Licensed to the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, California, the station is owned by Taxi Productions, which in turn is owned by Stevie Wonder. It operates with an effective radiated power of 5.6 kW from a transmitter site in a portion of unincorporated Los Angeles County in View Park-Windsor Hills, and operates from its studios in Inglewood.
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. 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. In addition, most of KJLH's on air staff has been with KJLH longer than rivals KHHT and especially KRBV, which has seen multiple turnovers.
As of 2008, KJLH became the only Urban Adult Contemporary Radio Station in Los Angeles serving the African-American audience again as both of its former competitors, KRBV and KHHT, has moved on to different directions, with KHHT evolving into a Rhythmic AC targeting the market's Hispanic audience, while KRBV exited the Adult R&B format altogether in April 2008 when Radio One sold the station to Bonneville International, who upon acquiring KRBV, dropped their format for Adult Album Alternative.
KJLH became the third Los Angeles Urban Adult Contemporary radio station to carry the Steve Harvey Morning Show on August 10, 2009; this comes after KDAY eliminated the show. The former KKBT at 100.3 was the original home of the Steve Harvey Morning Show when it started out as a local show.
As of 2009, when KDAY flipped to classic hip-hop, KJLH added more hip-hop in the playlist, still classifying the station as urban adult contemporary. Even Mediabase & Nielsen BDS still list the station as urban adult contemporary. KJLH has tweaked towards a rhythmic-leaning urban AC direction in August 2009 and now focuses on R&B/Hip Hop product, and KJLH is the only black owned Urban Adult Contemporary station in Los Angeles. KJLH went through drastic changes during the last few years by dropping a majority of the Urban Jazz content that they used to focus on for much of the 1990s and early 2000s to satisfy the younger end of its listener base. KJLH has added Hip Hop artists such as J. Cole, Drake, Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj to its playlist. This move was bought on by KDAY's format change to Classic Hip Hop and KKBT's departure.
As of November 2013, KJLH faces new competition with KTWV, which has evolved from smooth jazz back to an Urban Adult Contemporary format, Since then they also have faced new competition with new arrival KRRL and urban stations KDAY and KTYM.