KMJQ, (102.1 FM), is an Urban Adult Contemporary-formatted radio station located in Houston, Texas. Owned by Radio One, it is one of the most well-programmed heritage urban contemporary stations in the U.S. and has a strong listenership repertoire among listeners in Houston. Co-owned with KBXX and KROI, its studios are located in the Greenway Plaza district, and its 100 kW transmitter is based outside Missouri City, Texas. It is one of the high-ranking stations in Greater Houston, commanding a Top 5 position according to Arbitron, with KMJQ sometimes reaching number-one on many reports.
KAJC-FM, KMSC and KLYX
The station originally went on-the-air in 1961 as KAJC-FM with studios and transmitter in Alvin, Texas, a Houston suburb. At a time when FM typically aired "elevator music", it was the first FM station in the Houston area to broadcast an adult contemporary and hourly news format. In 1962 and 1963 it became the first FM station in Texas to win major news awards from the UPI Texas Broadcasters' Association, including story of the year and best news coverage in population class.
In 1964, the station was sold, changed its call letters to KMSC, and was moved to Clear Lake City on Galveston Bay. Styled the "Voice of the Manned Spacecraft Center", it broadcast news about the space program and easy listening music.
The station call letters changed to KLYX or "Clicks" as an easy listening station. In 1975, it became an affiliate of NBC Radio's national News and Information Service. This aired from 1975 to the end of the service in early 1977. The all-news operation originated from then-new studios in Houston. The station operated under a waiver of the FCC rules known as "Arizona Waiver" after a Glendale, Arizona station then owned by Arizona Broadcasting Corporation. Back when the main studio of a station had to be inside the city of license, the Arizona Waiver allowed a station to air its recorded, non-network shows from an 'auxiliary' studio (in this case more convenient Houston) and then the live local public affairs shows would air from a city of license studio. This worked well with the easy listening format, as 94% of the station was recorded music and commercials. The 6% news and non entertainment items could originate from the main studio. This was expanded to let the station broadcast its local and non network shows from the Clear Lake studios.
In 1979, the Clear Lake City area was annexed by Houston, and Houston became the city of license. In 1982, the transmitter was moved from downtown Houston (Shell Plaza tower farm, where it had been since 1973) to the new shared tower at Missouri City.
The station was relaunched in 1978 as KMJQ, utilizing an urban contemporary format and as Houston's first Urban Contemporary radio station on the FM dial. It began as "The All New Majic 102 FM", and went on to obtain high listenership among African American audiences, as well as a diverse audience. KMJQ was sold by Keymarket Media to the San Diego-based Noble Media in 1988. It became co-owned with KYOK months later, which transitioned from a R&B/soul station to a hip hop format as "YO! 1590 Raps" in the early 1990s.
In the early 1990s, KMJQ transitioned its branding to "Majic 102 Jamz" and simply "102 Jamz." Reggae was played in rotation during the transition, all the while maintaining a rubric music variety of R&B, soul, gospel, reggae, new jack swing, jazz and hip-hop. It later dominated competition which came from KHYS (now KTJM) in the mid-1980s. But in 1991, KMJQ gained fierce competition from KBXX (the former KFMK) upon that station's launch. KBXX, then a rhythmic (mixing in hip hop, R&B and some dance pop titles), quickly emerged as KMJQ's prime competitor for their mutual core audience demographic. The fierce competition over the coveted 18-34 "urban" listening audience continued for three years, affecting KMJQ's dominance due to ranking behind KBXX and dropping to a Top 10 in ratings. The rivalry ended in 1994, when KBXX was sold first to Clear Channel Communications, which turned around and bought KMJQ in 1995 from Noble Media, separating it from longtime partner KYOK. That year, KMJQ modified its format to Urban Adult Contemporary and returned the "Majic 102" brand to the station. From then on, the station focused more on R&B, Classic soul and Quiet Storm music only. In 2000, when Clear Channel bought out radio corporations (as a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996), KMJQ and KBXX were spun off to the Washington, D.C.-based Radio One, which currently owns both to this day. Also in 2000, KMJQ became the Houston affiliate of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show.
In 2003, the name was modified adding "point 1" to the moniker, thus becoming Majic 102.1 to avoid frequency confusion with Beaumont, Texas Urban radio station KTCX "Magic 102.5", although longtime listeners still refer to the station as "Majic 102" based on heritage. For a brief period in 2008, the station carried Mo'Nique in the Afternoon through Radio One's syndicated division. In 2011, when KROI dropped its five-year gospel format for a news radio format (which Houston was devoid of), KMJQ added a digital subchannel to carry that previous format now known as "Praise Houston."
In popular culture
"Majic 102" and "102 Jamz" were featured throughout the 1994 film Jason's Lyric.