Tom Joyner earned the nickname "The Fly Jock" and "The Hardest Working Man in Radio" by working long hours and flying between his morning job (in Dallas, Texas) and afternoon job (in Chicago, Illinois) every weekday for years.
Tom Joyner grew up in the town of Tuskegee, Alabama. He is one of two sons. His mother was a secretary for the military and his father served as a Tuskegee Airman. His beginnings were very much like many young blacks in the south. During the Montgomery Boycott, there was the "Tuskegee Boycott". Tom and many others fought for their civil rights. They took their protests to the streets weekly to try and effect change. One such protest was taken to a local radio station that refused to play "black" music. Eventually the station manager relented and Tom (naturally) nominated himself for the position.
Tom Joyner graduated from Tuskegee Institute in his hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and immediately started his career in radio. He started at WRMA (an AM station in Montgomery, Alabama). After breaking onto the airwaves there, he worked his magic at WLOK (an AM station in Memphis, Tennessee), KWK (an AM station in St. Louis, Missouri), and KKDA (an FM station in Dallas, Texas).
Eventually, he moved to Chicago - the Windy City. He blew through the Windy City on radio stations WJPC (FM), WGCI (FM), WVON (AM) and WBMX (FM) and caused a whirlwind of excitement on urban radio. Never before had listeners experienced such energy, humor and vitality.
Opportunity came knocking in the mid 1980's. Tom's upbeat style and comedic antics put him in an awkward position. His contract was about to expire and it was decision time. He was offered the MORNING drive time position at KKDA (Dallas, Texas) by one company and the AFTERNOON Disc Jockey position at WGCI (Chicago, Illinois). Any normal human would have chosen one position or the other - Tom Joyner chose to do BOTH! His plan was to fly thousands of miles everyday by airplane each day between Dallas and Chicago. He spent so much time in the air that he received the name "The Fly Jock". This commute and his rich on air style gained him national publicity and high ratings.
In 1994, Tom Joyner took his show to a new level. He knew that if he wanted to reach a broader audience, more "Fly Jockeying" would not do the trick, so he convinced ABC Radio Networks that his show could work in syndication. ABC, impressed with his determination, credentials and following gave it a try. In 1994, The Tom Joyner Morning Show started with Tom Joyner at the helm.
The show is beamed into over 95 radio stations across the country each weekday. Over 10 million ears tune into the show from their favorite local radio station. It is very well known that Tom Joyner likes to have a good time. He says, "First we get people laughing, then we get 'em to listen. If you can get people to listen, then they begin to think, and that's when they start making a difference".
Tom takes radio to a whole new level. Never before have African Americans been able to wake up to such an upbeat, entertaining and positive show. His accomplishments have not gone un-noticed. Tom Joyner was elected into the Radio Hall of Fame. He has received Impact Magazine's "Joe Loris Award" for Excellence in Broadcasting. He has received Billboard's "Best Urban Contemporary Air Personality" award. Impact Magazine's "Best DJ of the Year Award" was renamed "The Tom Joyner Award" because he received it so many times.
Tom's influence does not stop at the listener level. He and frequent guest Tavis Smiley raise the bar on corporate America. Christie's International Auction House in New York decided to auction off items from the United States slave trade. Even-though Christie has a policy against selling items from the Holocaust, they apparently had no problem with items from slavery. With Tom at the wheel and Tavis on the gas, listeners of the Tom Joyner Morning Show jammed the telephone lines of Christie's for days until Christie finally responded and called off the auction.
The listeners of The Tom Joyner Morning Show shut the phones down at Katz Media Group because Katz circulated an internal memo instructing their sales force not to sell air time for black radio. Their reasoning was that black radio's audience was full of "suspects" not "prospects." Katz Media Group president Stu Olds, quickly did some damage control by calling into the show and promised to double Katz's sales for black radio and hire more African-American sales personel.
Katz Media recognized the value of damage control early on. This was not the same for CompUSA who was the next target of the show. The show admonished CompUSA for it's lack of advertising on minority radio. CompUSA was asked to explain themselves on air for weeks. Again, listeners were asked to use the telephone and call CompUSA and demand an answer. What the callers were not prepared for was the complex voice mail system in place at CompUSA. CompUSA simply re-routed calls so they had a limited impact. Un phased, Tom and Tavis went on for weeks with no progress. When things looked like they couldn't get any worse - they did in a big way.
ABC Radio, on the urging of CompUSA's lawyers, gave the show an ultimatum - shut down or be shut down. The reading ABC's letter on the Tom Joyner Morning Show had the effect of boosting support for Tom Joyner and Tavis Smiley. CompUSA soon thereafter came on the show and made good with the African American community.
Tom did not forget his roots when he signed onto the Tom Joyner Morning Show. He setup a foundation that earmarks dollars for students that have run out of money at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He knows that many of these graduates will someday become tomorrow's celebrities and dignitaries.
Celebrities and dignitaries are on The Tom Joyner Morning Show daily. The guest roster proves it! On any given week day you can hear some of the most powerful voices in the African American community and beyond. From President Clinton, Sinbad, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes, Oprah Winfrey, Evander Holyfield and Mother Love - he has them all.
Millions listen to the familiar Oh Oh Oh... It's The Tom Joyner Morning Show everyday.
Tom now resides in Dallas with his two sons from his former marriage. They are Thomas, Jr. and Oscar. He is married to Donna Richardson.