It’s December 1980 – You’re A Teenager – You Live In L.A. – It’s Been A Strange Month In A Strange Year And Hopefully Not A Strange Decade
KJLH – December 11, 1980 – Rob Frankel Sound Collection
Maybe it’s a new decade and even though it’s December, you’re still getting used to it – maybe hearing about John Lennon a few days earlier has you wondering. Maybe its what you’re listening to isn’t like anything the kids at Palisades High are listening to. Palisades is the high school you got bused to – you miss Inglewood and you miss most of your friends, the ones they didn’t pick for the program for the bus ride you have to take every day. They ask you what station you like and you say KJLH and they look at you like you’re from Mars – no, just Inglewood – it’s not that far away, on the way to LAX. But it’s like a another planet. All the White kids are asking you questions – everybody stared at you that first day you got off the bus. They don’t stare so much any more -after all, it’s one great big building and everybody’s stuck in it for at least three years – lucky for you, you graduate next year. They say busing will be over in 1981, you can go back to your regular school and graduate with your friends. Maybe next year won’t be so bad. Maybe.
Anybody growing up in L.A. in the 1970s will remember School busing – when the City decided it was a good idea for kids from the ‘inner city’ to trade places with kids from outlying (primarily White) neighborhoods in a way to deal with issues of racial segregation and education around the L.A. area – unlike other cities (such as Boston, where it got out of hand), busing in L.A. was, for the most part, uneventful – but it went from being mandatory to being volunteer in 1981. Ironically, many of the students who took part in the busing program voluntarily stayed with it until it finally closed around 1982.
The upshot was, a lot of White teenagers got turned on to KJLH, which most couldn’t hear on the other side of the hill in the valley. Kindness, Joy, Happiness and Love (KJLH, the station’s call-letters) made an impact – and it turned people on to music they weren’t hearing from their regular go-to radio stations.
Changes. Not always what you would expect.