The Fly Jock grounds for good

Tom Joyner announces retirement – in 2019

One of radio’s most venerable personalities is calling it a career as Tom Joyner announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his radio gig in 2019, as reported by several publications, including Radio Insight and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Posting to Tuesday morning, Joyner didn’t specifically mention the “R” word, but laid out what things would be coming ahead, asking listeners what were their favorite moments of the show and asking listeners what memories they had from the show.

“As we take things to the next level, personally and professionally, we’ll be in celebration mode with more guests, more parties, and more opportunities to Meet Every Listener, Joyner noted. “We’ve touched a lot of lives and we love and appreciate the millions of people who are part of the TJMS family. So much has happened since we went on the air in 1994…good and bad…and we all went through it together.”

Black America Web is run by Reach Media, who owns and syndicates The Tom Joyner Morning Show. 

A native of Tuskegee, Ala., Joyner got his start in radio in nearby Montgomery. Joyner came to Chicago in 1978 when he landed at WVON-AM, but was known locally for his work at WJPC-AM and later WGCI-FM as afternoon personality. Joyner flew back and forth daily between gigs in Chicago and Dallas as morning personality for KKDA-FM, becoming the first radio personality to hold simultaneous jobs in two different markets and earned the moniker “The Fly Jock” and “The Hardest Working Man In Radio” and did so from 1985 to 1993.

Joyner launched his own syndicated morning show via ABC Radio Networks from Dallas in 1994 with WVAZ-FM (V103) on board as one of the first stations in the country to sign on. Joyner used the show to promote several platforms helping the African-American community, including health-related issues, black colleges (Joyner himself attended Tuskegee University, an HBCU), and encouraging African-Americans to register and vote. Joyner was creative in labeling his missions, including Party With a Purpose, Little Known Black History Facts, and the Fantastic Voyage cruises. Joyner also hosted on-site remotes called “Sky Shows”, where he would do his show on location from a large venue. Joyner did several of these shows in Chicago from the Regal Theater and the Chicago Theater. His last appearance in Chicago was in 2009.

Joyner even brought back the old-time radio soap-opera in It’s Your World. In 2005, the radio show launched a short-lived TV spinoff.

Recent years however, haven’t been too kind to Joyner’s show. In 2009, V103  canceled TJMS and replaced him with Steve Harvey, moving over from WGCI. Joyner later shifted to signal-challenged WSRB-FM (Soul 106.3), but was dropped recently due to low ratings leaving Joyner without a home in Chicago. Joyner also lost several key affiliates in other African-American markets such as Baltimore, and had to fight off retirement rumors in 2015. A few TJMS personalities defected including J. Anthony Brown and Sheryl Underwood.

In a recent victory, Tom Joyner returned to the air in Dallas to the same station who booted him off due to a format change. Currently, 80 stations carry Joyner’s show, down from 115 in its heyday. With his contract up at the end of the year, the news suggests Joyner signed a “final” two-year contract to stay on until 2019.

Still, you can’t deny the fact Tom Joyner contributed greatly to radio – more so than other personalities. While some radio personalities goof off, sound annoying, spew hate for the sake of spewing hate, or have “no personality” (Seacrest), Joyner was on the air making a difference for the African-American community through his program. His actions further illustrates the power of radio – and no one did it better than Tom Joyner.