Forever Fly Jock: The Iconic Tom Joyner Retires After 25 Years on the Radio

Tom Joyner presents during the 2011 Soul Train Awards on November 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tom Joyner presents during the 2011 Soul Train Awards on November 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Rick Diamond (Getty Images)

Now you know we can’t start this blog without a proper intro—hit it!

Oh oh oh (oh oh oh oh) it’s the Tom Joyner Morning Showwwww!

After 25 years of starting each morning with flyness, Tom Joyner signed off on his very last show Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

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The perfect combination of entertainment and education, Joyner began his career hosting The Tom Joyner Morning Show in 1994. Taking on double-duty with two jobs that required him to fly from Dallas (hosting 104.5 KKDA-FM in the mornings) to Chicago (hosing 107.5 WGCI in the afternoons), the 70-year-old host earned the nickname, “The Fly Jock.” Intentionally dedicated to African Americans, The Tom Joyner Morning Show was embraced in households across the nation, going into syndication and airing on over 80 stations.

Growing up in Chicago, I vividly remember riding next to my mama as she turned on the radio, awaiting her car to heat up in the brittle cold, with Joyner’s infectious energy reverberating through the speakers. If Joyner didn’t sign on, did morning even exist?!

“My thing has always been to empower people, but to empower we must also entertain,” Joyner told National Correspondent Jericka Duncan, of CBS News. “If I’ve got you laughing, I’ve got you listening.”

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Several notable people congratulated Joyner on such a rich career, including Oprah Winfrey who personally called him with well wishes, and Tallahassee’s former mayor Andrew Gillum, who took to Twitter to honor his service to black voters.

“Tom Joyner showed millions what was possible, & it was my honor to fight with him to flip Florida in 2018,” Gillum tweeted on Friday morning. “Thanks for lifting all of us up.”

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In a 2000 interview, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl reported Joyner helped over a quarter million black people register to vote, with Joyner confirming that politicians would reach out to him to appear on his show knowing it was a key platform to reach the black demographic. In addition to his passion for voter’s rights, Joyner raised more than $60 million dollars for Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs).

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Making more than $14 million a year at his peak, that salary began to get cut as time went on. Joyner admits if he were offered more money, he’d still be hosting past today. “My goal was to die on the radio! Have my funeral on the radio!” an exuberant Joyner concluded, as he passes the torch to his successor, Rickey Smiley. Well, we know one thing that will live forever on the radio and that’s Joyner’s presence. Congrats on a legendary career, Mr. Joyner.

Tom Joyner Morning Show Video Promo / YouTube

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

Mornings have just gotten a little more harder to bear. But Tom has earned his due.

He knew it was time to leave.

Enjoy your retirement, Tom. You‘ve earned it. You can now sleep in late and throw that alarm clock away.