Tom Joyner has been the morning soundtrack in cars and homes for the last 25 years, but on Friday “The Fly Jock” officially signed off. The 70-year-old radio legend said goodbye to the nearly eight million listeners of his No. 1 syndicated urban morning show, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, but this won’t be the last we’re seeing of Joyner.
Joyner spoke with CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan and said that he plans to continue supporting historically black colleges and universities amid his retirement. He has raised more than $60 million over the course of his radio career and Joyner says his efforts will not rest. The radio jock said that he will focus on “putting [money] in the hands of college students to help their tuition at historically black colleges. That’s my goal. All after 12 noon.”
Throughout Joyner’s career, he gained the nicknamed “The Fly Jock,” which stemmed from his daily travels to host a morning show in Dallas and an afternoon radio show in Chicago for eight years. When asked how he managed to “do that” for eight years, Joyner jokingly said, “greed.”
The Tuskegee, Alabama native first hit the airwaves in 1994 with a radio show that was specifically for black people. “We do a show for African-Americans. That’s what we do,” Joyner told “60 Minutes” during an interview in 1996.
However, the story of Joyner’s break into radio is an interesting one. The legendary host told CBS News that it all started when he attended civil rights marches in his hometown. “I’m out there protesting the fact that our radio station in this all black town didn’t play any black music. And this guy who owned a radio station, which was inside a Ford dealership, came out and said I don’t need this, I’m trying to really sell some cars,” Joyner recounted. “Tell you what, it’s a sun-up sun-down station. Every Saturday, I’ll let one of you play all the Aretha and Temptations that you want.”
“That’s how it started?” Duncan asked. “That’s how it started,” Joyner replied.
Joyner will be succeeded by fellow Alabamian, Rickey Smiley, who is no stranger to Joyner’s faithful listeners. According to a press release, Smiley will be grabbing the baton along with co-hosts Eva Marcille and Gary Wit Da Tea.
“We broke some ground, raised the bar for what audiences expected from Black radio all while partying with a purpose,” Joyner said in a brief statement following the announcement of his successor. “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.”
Despite Joyner bidding a bittersweet farewell, his listeners should have solace in knowing that his content was tailor-made for them. His desire to “super-serve” the black community was the key to his success. “Don’t worry about crossover. Just super serve, super serve, super serve. Anything that affects African Americans, that’s what you do,” he said. “Just worry about connecting to people and their needs.”
Check out some of Tom Joyner’s listeners bid him farewell below.