By Najee Ali
Karen E. Slade is in the spotlight this month for her dedicated service and work on behalf of the community as vice president and general manager of KJLH, the radio station owned by the legendary Stevie Wonder.
Slade and KJLH have all hands on deck for this year’s 22nd annual House Full of Toys Benefit Concert featuring the Stevie Wonder Song Party: A Celebration of Life, Love & Music at Staples Center Dec. 9.
To those who are long-time listeners to KJLH, Slade and her dedication to her community comes as no surprise.
Under Slade’s leadership, KJLH Radio has been at the forefront of advocacy for our community. Not only does KJLH Radio entertain us, it informs us everyday with news and information that begins with the daily morning talk show “The Front Page” and continues the rest of the day with popular on-air personality Tammi Mac always bringing up hot topics of the day in her afternoon slot.
Slade also has instituted several key events sponsored and hosted by KJLH throughout the year that include the men’s empowerment summit and its women’s health fair. Both events attract thousands of listeners and community members. With over two decades of dedicated service, Slade is the MVP of KJLH Radio.
Slade was born in Cleveland to Violette Crawford and Charles Slade. In 1977, she earned her bachelor of science degree in telecommunications from Kent State University, where she was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
She obtained her master’s in business administration degree from Pepperdine University in 1991.
Upon graduation from Kent State, Slade was hired as an account executive at Xerox Corporation in Cleveland. For the next decade, she worked in various positions for Xerox, including as a marketing consultant, project manager and dealer sales manager.
In 1988, Slade was promoted to a regional sales manager in Atlanta. Then, in 1989, she came to Los Angeles to work at KJLH. As general manager, Slade led programming and sales as well as the station’s efforts to address local and national issues in the African-American community. Under her leadership, KJLH Radio received the distinguished George Foster Peabody Award and the NAACP Image Award.
Slade has been honored by the California Legislative Black Caucus Foundation and the Black Business Association and received the Phenomenal Woman Award from Cal State Northridge. Radio Inc. magazine named Slade one of the 25 most influential African Americans in radio.
She served on the board of the Los Angeles Urban League from 1989 to 1995 and has been a member of the Black Media Network and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters since 1989.
I can’t remember how I met Slade, but I do know it was through my association with former KJLH Radio host Carl Nelson in the mid-1990s. To her credit, she has remained the same, humble and low key.
Slade is not a person who enjoys being out front or visible. She allows her on air-personalities to do their jobs and be the public faces and ambassadors of the station. She doesn’t seek or want the spotlight.
Slade simply gets the job done and is the heart and soul of KJLH Radio. She’s the glue that has helped keep the station going in an increasingly difficult market for urban radio nationally.
Black L.A. over the years has lost radio stations such as KGFJ, KACE, 100.3 The Beat. But through it all, KJLH has weathered the storm under Slade’s leadership. The community shouldn’t take that lightly or for granted. If we were to ever lose KJLH, our community wouldn’t have any voices in urban radio to communicate on our issues as well as listening to the music we enjoy.
Right now, her attention is focused on Stevie Wonder’s House Full of Toys as KJLH stands on its legacy of collecting toys for underserved children across the Southland. KJLH is calling for all community members to join them and donate a new unwrapped toy. The toy donations allow the station to continue serving the children of our community, especially in such a time as this, so they are mobilizing to help bring smiles to kids across our communities.
While you are out and about shopping, please don’t forget to take the time to share love and donate a toy to the House Full of Toys Community Toy Drive.
The need is great – especially for the older kids, 12-17. You can bring gift cards, tablets and electronic devices. Just help us serve them as well as the young ones.
With your help, KJLH can fill many houses full of toys this holiday season. Just drop off your toys at the studios of KJLH Radio, 161 N. La Brea Ave., in Inglewood or wherever you see the KJLH Street Team.
And if you’re going to see Stevie Wonder at the House Full of Toys Benefit Concert Dec. 9 at Staples Center, bring your unwrapped toy. In a statement Wonder released he stated:
“This year, the holiday season will not be joyful for some in our California family. Many lost lives, property and dreams. Imagine a holiday after this tragedy. And so, this year, I am combining my annual House Full of Toys Benefit Concert featuring Song Party, a celebration of life, love and music, with my House Full of Hope.”
Tickets are on sale now at https://www.axs.com/
As part of House Full of Hope, Wonder is asking his supporters to donate to the EIF’s Fire Fund at http://www.musicforrelief.org/hope or text GIVE25 to 50555 to make a $25 contribution.
I made my $ 25 contribution and encourage everyone else to do the same.
For news tips, email Brothernajeeali@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter@Najeeali.