K-Love began in 1980 as a single radio station with the call sign KCLB. It was a full-time contemporary Christian music radio station, launched by radio personality Bob Anthony, in Middletown, California. After several tries at purchasing a station in San Francisco, a small, non-commercial radio station was acquired just north of San Francisco for $67,000. On October 15, 1982, 91.9 KCLB came on the air for the first time with Bob Anthony as announcer. The very first song played on KCLB was "Praise The Lord" by The Imperials, which was a hit on the Christian Music charts in 1979.
With the slogan "The Positive Alternative, Christian Music Radio KCLB 92FM", the station continued to grow in listeners. In 1986, Dick Jenkins was hired as General Manager. That same year, Bob Anthony left the station and moved to Oregon, to start a new radio ministry.
On September 12, 1988, a 9,000-acre brush fire destroyed KCLB's main transmitter building on Geyser Peak. The radio station transmitter was relocated to 4,000-foot Mount Saint Helena. The new location improved signal strength, and listeners reported they could now hear the station as far as 125 miles away.
As KCLB continued to expand its signal reach, in 1987 the signal could be heard on transmitters in San Rafael, Salinas, and Monterey, California that rebroadcast KCLB's signal. In 1988, KCLB changed its call letters to KLVR, and adopted its on-air brand name K-Love and the slogan "Encouraging Words, Positive Music, K-Love Radio".