In a move that will ramifications for local stations Power 92 and Clubsteppin’ 95.1, Tom Joyner announced on his show Friday morning he will hand the reigns over to Rickey Smiley beginning on January 2, 2020. Joyner announced his retirement in 2017.
Currently, Smiley has his own syndicated program The Rickey Smiley Show airing locally on urban WPWX-FM (Power 92), owned by Crawford Broadcasting. Tom Joyner’s syndicated program airs on Clubsteppin’ 95.1, a rimshot station owned by local entrepreneur Lamont Watts. Both Smiley and Joyner are syndicated by Reach Media, owned by Radio One. The move is a bit unorthodox as Smiley is shifting from an younger, urban audience to an older, Urban AC one.
“I’m happy to see the landscape of Urban AC morning radio continue to expand with Rickey, and I’m proud of the doors the Tom Joyner Morning Show opened”, said Joyner in a statement. “Twenty-five years ago, there was no template for a syndicated Urban radio show and we worked hard to prove that we could successfully produce and market a national platform that would entertain, inform and empower African-American listeners. We broke some ground, raised the bar for what audiences expected from Black radio all while partying with a purpose. Yeah, we’ve done a lot but there’s still a lot left to be done. I’m confident that Rickey’s activism along with his love for radio, the community, and HBCUs, will pick up where we left off.”
Smiley said: “It’s an honor to continue the legacy of my boss and frat brother Tom Joyner. Not only has he been a friend to my family and me over the years, but we consider him family. Tom’s mentorship has instilled in me valuable wisdom that I will carry with me through this new morning show.”
Also coming aboard are Smiley’s sidekicks, Gary Wit Da Tea and actress Eva Marcille. Joyner Co-host Sybil Wilkes is also exiting along with Joyner at the end of December.
A new morning show is expected to be offered to Smiley’s current affiliates, with current Smiley co-host Headkrack. With the move, Smiley is shifting his home base of his show from Atlanta to Dallas, where Joyner’s show is currently based. It is not yet known how his move will impact his duties on Fox’s syndicated Dish Nation, where he and his staff appears. Dish was recently renewed for an eighth season and airs weekdays on Fox 32.
With Smiley shifting to an Urban AC format, it remains to be seen if Power 92 would take the new show or go with another option, i.e. another syndicated show (such as the New York-based The Breakfast Club) or fill morning drive with a local host. Ironically, when Crawford had the rights to Tom Joyner’s morning show, it was heard on both Power 92 and Soul 106.3, until the former replaced him with Smiley in order to attract an younger audience (Soul would eventually drop Joyner for a local morning show with former WGCI personality Mike Love.) After Doug Banks’ death a few years ago, V103 (WVAZ-FM) opted to return to a local host (Joe Soto) in afternoons instead of the offered syndicated replacement, a short-lived show featuring Rudy Rush.
Like Joyner, Smiley is a native Alabamian (born in Birmingham) and began his radio career in Dallas in 2004, with Radio One syndicating his show starting in 2008. During this time, Smiley headlined own sitcom also titled The Ricky Smiley Show on TV One from 2012 to 2014 and filmed in Atlanta. Only 37 episodes were produced.