|Broadcast area||Metro Detroit|
|Frequency||97.9 MHz (HD Radio)|
|Format||FM/HD1: Urban contemporary|
HD2: Funkytown Radio
|WDFN, WLLZ, WKQI, WMXD, WNIC|
First air date
|May 24, 1941|
Former call signs
WJLB-FM (1947-1952, 1957-1958)
Call sign meaning
|John Lord Booth (original owner)|
|HAAT||149 meters (489 ft)|
HD2 Listen Live
WJLB (97.9 FM) is a radio station in Detroit. Owned by iHeartMedia, it broadcasts an urban contemporary format.
WJLB's studios are located in Farmington Hills. WJLB's transmitter is located in Highland Park near the intersection of Hamilton Avenue and Midland Street, and transmits its signal from an antenna 489 feet in height with an Effective radiated power of 50,000 watts.
The station was initially authorized as W49D, with 1,000 watts of power at 44.9 megahertz. It began test broadcasts on May 7, 1941, and on May 24 officially began broadcasting as Michigan's second FM radio station. The station was owned by John Lord Booth, who was born in Detroit on June 13, 1907, and died in Grosse Pointe Farms on November 11, 1994, at the age of 87. Booth already owned an AM station, WJLB, and was a major stock holder in "Booth Newspapers of Michigan", which caused a delay in the FM station's grant while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reviewed its newspaper cross-ownership policy.
Effective November 1, 1943, the FCC modified its policy for FM call signs, and the station call letters were changed to WLOU. On September 12, 1945, WLOU was assigned to 96.5 MHz. In June 1948, the station moved to 97.9 MHz. The station's call sign was WJLB-FM from 1947 to 1952 and from 1957 to 1958; it was WBRI from 1952 to 1957. In 1958 the call letters were changed to WMZK, which was a play on the word music, with a format of automated beautiful music. In later years, WMZK alternated between beautiful music and foreign-language programming for various ethnic groups. In 1979, the station carried the pro softball games of the Detroit Caesars.
In 1980, the WJLB call sign returned for the third time, along with an Urban Contemporary format from the 1400 kHz AM frequency. WJLB (AM), which went on the air as WMBC in 1926 and became WJLB in 1939, had been providing programming geared toward Detroit's black community for nearly four decades. (WJLB (AM) continued to program to the African-American community in Detroit for nearly a quarter-century as WQBH, and is now WDTK, owned by Salem Communications with a conservative news/talk format.)
Throughout the 1980s, WJLB, which was known as "Stereo 98," was transformed into a hybrid CHR/UC —also called "CHUrban", which would be the forerunner to the current Rhythmic CHR format - known as "WJLB FM 98, Detroit's Strongest Songs" in 1986. The rollout featured a commercial of people working out to the song "Problèmes d’Amour" by Alexander Robotnick.
The station would eventually gravitate to becoming full blown urban contemporary station "FM 98 WJLB" by 1988.
By 1993, WJLB performed well in the Detroit Arbitron ratings, despite picking up competition from several competitors, including WHYT, which was mostly dance and Top 40, but in 1992, would flip to "96.3 Jamz" and aired a rhythmic contemporary format, and then in 1996 at the 105.9 frequency, the former jazz-formatted WJZZ, which became WCHB-FM "The Beat", and later WDTJ "105.9 Jamz" (now urban AC-formatted WDMK "105.9 Kiss-FM").
FM 98 WJLB was famous for its specialty Friday mix shows dating beach to the 80s with the "Electrifying Mojo", along with the Saturday Night Hip-Hop Show "The Rap Blast", the "Sunday Night Segue", hosted by Johnny "Smooth" Edwards which featuring classic "Quiet Storm" tracks, as well as for the highly successful morning show "Mason and Company" — which ran on the station from 1986-2001.
In April 1994, Booth American Company merged with Broadcast Alchemy to become Secret Communications. In August, Chancellor Media acquired the station from Secret Communications. In 1997, Chancellor Media and Evergreen, which already owned WKQI "Q95.5" and WQRS, later merged to form AMFM, Inc. In November 1999, AMFM, Inc. was purchased by Clear Channel Communications. WJLB and sister station WMXD have been under the Clear Channel banner ever since.
Over the last decade, WJLB shifted to a much younger audience, emphasizing playlist with more modern Hip Hop and less Old-school hip hop, R&B, and House music which the station was built on from the late 1980s through 2010.
In October 2017, after 31 years as "FM 98", the station rebranded as "97.9 WJLB", utilizing a logo template mainly utilized by iHeart's number of "Real"-branded urban stations.
WJLB's HD2 side channel features a rhythmic oldies (including classic disco, dance and soul) format known as "Funkytown," which changed from a Classic Hip-Hop format in the fall of 2013.