Published On: Mon, Dec 16th, 2019

Radio Icon Tom Joyner Signs Off, Leaving an Immeasurable Impact

C. Ron Allen

Boca Raton, FL – It was shortly after 10 a.m. when Radio Hall of Famer Tom Joyner hung up his headset and rushed out of the studios at Hot 105 (WHQT, FM 105.1) for a bio break. As Joyner gingerly made his way down the hallway, a group of about 30 children and their chaperones greeted him with hugs.

The pioneering urban radio personality stopped for photos, all while sharing his trademark bear hugs with the ladies. Some got autographs, others were in awe after sharing the space with the legend. It was a moment they all will remember.

Just like that Monday morning in June, today, Friday, Dec. 13, is another day that will be etched in my memory. That’s because Joyner, 70, who hosted the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show, signed off from the airwaves at 9:59 a.m. after 25 years.

For a quarter century, my alarm went off each weekday at 6 a.m. to Joyner’s familiar jingle, “Oh, Oh, Oh…It’s the Tom Joyner Morning Show” – indicating the start of a four-hour party with a purpose. At this party though, Joyner and his sidekicks kept their more than 10 million listeners highly informed, motivated and empowered. 

This was not just another radio show, he redefined the role of a radio host beyond the traditional perception of a disc jockey. The talented cast, crew and team represented the community’s conscience and provided information and perspectives on important issues that were not being discussed in mainstream media. 

The show, which was much a staple in the Black community as soul food and Bible study, was a community, a network that the Alabama Tuskegee, Alabama, native cultivated across the globe. In its heyday, the show was heard in more than 100 cities,. It was not unusual for service members stationed overseas to would call in while listening. 

Many political leaders were elected to Congress or other top governmental positions after their stories aired on this platform. 

Many political leaders were elected to Congress or other top governmental positions after their stories aired on this platform. He provided jobs for many, including  members of congress,countless celebrities – especially artists and comedians – who got their break on this show.

While the show had its share of buffoonery, Joyner took his position of influence very seriously. He brought health and fitness to the forefront among Blacks with important initiatives such as the 2008 “Get Out the Vote” and his “Take A Loved One to the Doctor” campaign, which began as a way toto get Black men to visit the doctor to ultimately prevent fatal diseases. 

He doled out financial advice, but most notably is his massive support for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a project to which he promises to devote continue through his retirement. His Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $100 million – through an annual celebrity cruise for fans – to help enrolled students pay tuition. 

The son of a famed Tuskegee Airmen, Joyner was literally one of the hardest working men in the radio business. His career took off long before syndication was the norm. From 1985 to 1993, he hosted a morning show in Dallas, hopped on a plane and did another in Chicago in the afternoon. Then back to Dallas. He was back in Dallas by late evening. He did 10 shows, racked up 8,000 miles weekly and earned him the moniker “Fly Jock.” 

In 1993, Joyner became the first Black personality to successfully go nationwide with music on a morning show with music ,when ABC Radio Networks offered to carry his program on several radio stations from a single base of operation.

Joyner began preparing for this day two years ago. A few factors forced his decision: an aging audience, radio stations attracting younger listeners, advertisers shifting elsewhere, and syndicated rivals such as Steve Harvey and Rickey Smiley, who now has the hosting baton, have chipped away his fan base.

 “My goal was to die on the radio. Have my funeral on the radio,” Joyner, who garnered numerous honors during his 50-year career, told a reporter recently. 

Over the last two weeks, many celebrities – including Oprah, Patti LaBelle, Spike Lee, Tyler Perry and the Rev. Al Sharpton – called in or sent toasts to the man who had such a profound impact on them and our community. 

It warmed my heart on Thursday when his former sidekick of 20 years, J. Anthony Brown sat in on the entire show. The two parted ways in 2016 after a disagreement, and today, J. called back to say thanks. In fact, heHe was the last caller. 

I will miss the show largely because there won’t be anyone to expose government corruption, confront the cases of police brutality, and speak the truth to power especially during these problematic times in American history.

But like anything else, such is a part of this journey we call life.

Mr. Joyner, you epitomize what it means to be committed to a cause. You made my life fuller over the past 25 years. , and Tthanks for stressing the importance of the mandateof us we all must makinge an impact on our communities.

I know your good work will continue, there will never be another Tom Joyner or Tom Joyner Morning Show and my mornings will never be the same.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at [email protected] or 561-665-0151.

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