On January 4, hundreds of community members, radio industry, politicians and stakeholders, gathered together to celebrate and bid farewell to Los Angeles radio and community icon Clifton Wayne Winston. The service was held at West Angeles C.O.G.I.C. North Campus Sanctuary. The service was officiated by Elder Henry Fredrick.
The room was mixed with laughter and tears as memories were shared of a husband, a father, grandfather, friend, leader, music lover and beloved radio jock. Winston, a Los Angeles native was a product of Dorsey High, Los Angeles City College, which lead to a transfer to the University of Washington, where his radio ambitions blossomed into a successful career. His love for radio started at an early age in the heart of Los Angeles, where he watched disc jockeys through a window of a radio station on Crenshaw Blvd. and read aloud from old discarded newspapers to practice his voice. He’d fondly talked about those memories on the KJLH radio station, when he was the morning anchor of the very successful morning show.
Greg Johnson KJLH Marketing Director shared, “Cliff Winston was one of the consummate broadcasters in radio. Black radio in particular. I was always amazed at his ability to keep up with current events. When I would travel, he would always say, “Greg, bring me a paper.” He also loved that radio microphone. He would always say to me, “I never met a microphone I didn’t like.” He continued, “He was an icon in the Los Angeles community. He taught me how important KJLH was to this community, explaining that we were more than a radio station. I was sad. When he left KJLH but just devastated that he left us so soon … a good broadcaster… a good father…. a good man. Rest in peace Cliff.”
Cliff Winston was more than a disc jockey, he was connected to the Los Angeles community, providing knowledge on sports, politics and city news. Carl Nelson, former host of KJLH “Front Page”, who came on right before Winston stated, “Cliff was friend and colleague for many years. Like many great basketball players who were also ‘ gym rats’, Cliff was a radio rat. He had an unbridled passion for the medium; even more, he loved the nuances of the radio game. In the mornings, we often planned and plotted different strategies to keep the audience listening longer. He further stated, “even after we both left KJLH, we stayed in touch and discussed different radio scenarios. Like a good ball player, Cliff was adept at setting on air match-ups and record rotation. He was definitely at the top of radio programmers that I have worked with over the years. I miss those conversations already.”
Cliff Winston also joined other popular radio stations. He left KJLH in 1990 to join 92.3 the Beat. He returned KJLH in 1993 to serve as Program Director and anchor the morning show where the station garnered the highest ratings the station ever had. His latter female co-host who still sits in the morning spot, Adai Lamar shared, “My heart is forever broken at the loss of my friend … my brother, Cliff Winston! Cliff was L.A.’s son! He knew everything about L.A., just as he did about radio. He made the studio into a classroom. He was amazing to watch and grand to hear! It was an honor to be his co-host and a blessing to learn from him. I will miss our life conversations and crazy inside jokes! People have asked me a lot about Cliff since his passing. I can best describe him as human! One of the best, I’ve ever known!”
In 2006, Cliff left KJLH again to challenge himself and joined Radio One’s KRBV V-100. Radio One founder Cathy Hughes shared her thoughts of Winston, “CLASS ACT is the most accurate description of who Cliff Winston will be remembered as. Whether it be his voice or his style of dressing or his attitude towards all people and circumstances, he was the consummate gentleman at all times. Cliff made Black Radio look and sound real good! I am grateful that he raised the bar of excellence in the profession that he and I both loved.”
During the funeral service, KJLH owner Stevie Wonder tearfully brought thoughts of Cliff and sang “AS” and a medley of songs, as the audience sang along. “I want to cry … I want to yell out loud. But, Cliff is saying to me … ‘Keep it .. calm’. And so, I’ll do my best to do that,” said Wonder. “But I think the greatest thing I remember is seeing him at the celebration of 50 years of KJLH, and me telling him ‘I love you’ and him saying ‘I love you’ to me.”
Winston was buried at Inglewood Cemetery.
Kevin Fleming former KJFJ, KACE and V100 program director stated, “During his career, Cliff touched tens of thousands of listeners and fans. He will be remembered as an L.A. radio legend but he was also a really good brother… gone too soon. May God Bless brother Cliff Winston.”
Photos by E. Mesiyah McGinnis/L.A. Sentinel