Thomas "Tom" Joyner (born November 23, 1949(1949-11-23)) is an American radio host. His daily program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, is syndicated across the United States and heard by over ten million radio listeners.
Joyner was inducted in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site on January 12, 2008.
Joyner was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, and received a degree in sociology from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). There Tom joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. While a student at Tuskegee University in the 1960s, Joyner became an original member of the soul/funk musical group The Commodores but departed the group before it became an international success.
He began his broadcasting career in Montgomery, Alabama, immediately upon graduation, and worked at a number of radio stations in the American South before moving to Chicago at WJPC (AM).
With first wife Dora Tom is the father of two grown sons, Thomas Jr. and Oscar, whom he calls "Killa" and "Thrilla". He is currently married to aerobics instructor/fitness guru Donna Richardson.
In the mid-1980s, Joyner was simultaneously offered two positions: one for a morning show at KKDA (K104) in Dallas and one for an afternoon show at WGCI in Chicago. Instead of choosing between the two, Joyner chose to take both jobs, and for years he commuted daily by plane between the two cities, earning the nicknames "The Fly Jock" and "The Hardest Working Man in Radio."
In 1994, Joyner was signed by ABC Radio Networks to host a nationally-syndicated program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, featuring Joyner and a team of comedians and commentators reporting and discussing the latest news and sports of the day, and playing popular R&B songs from the 1970s through the 1990s as well as contemporary R&B hits. Also featured are celebrity guests, on-site remotes (called "Sky Shows"), and an on-air soap opera, It’s Your World. Southwest Airlines is a prominent sponsor of the radio show, especially Joyner's "Sky Shows," and free round-trip airfare to any destination that Southwest flies to is a recurring giveaway on his show.
In the Fall 2005, a nationally syndicated television show, The Tom Joyner Show, was launched with Joyner as emcee of a one-hour comedy/variety show, combining sketch comedy featuring the "Tom Joyner Show Players" (his co-hosts from the radio show), talent contests, and musical performances by such artists as Earth, Wind and Fire, Brian McKnight, Babyface and Toni Braxton. The show attracted blue chip advertisers such as McDonalds, Chrysler, WalMart and Southwest Airlines. While the program achieved top ratings for a weekly syndicated program themed to African American viewers --even taking the number one show position although it was in a late night timeslot-- in such markets as New York and Atlanta, affiliates in other markets were reluctant to upgrade the show to prime time for a targeted audience.
Without the opportunity to reach a larger audience in earlier time slots and achieve greater revenues, the show had limited ability to offset the residuals and music clearences required by the many performers appearing on the show. Despite award recognition, in May 2006, Joyner decided not to continue due to production costs related to the music variety show concept. In general music variety shows have virtually vanished from the television landscape due to residual expenses. Re-runs are shown on TV One cable channel.
Joyner has been an advocate for voter registration and throughout the year promotes voter registration over the air, on his website and during his live 'Sky Shows' broadcasts. To improve healthy living, Joyner holds a 'Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day' every September. On that day, he rallies families and friends to go to the doctor to get a check up to prevent any health problems, and particularly treat any existing issues.
Joyner has also founded The Tom Joyner Foundation to provide financial assistance to students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Since 1998, it has raised more than $55 million to help keep students enrolled at HBCUs. The Tom Joyner Foundation also hosts an annual cruise named the Fantasic Voyage which also raises money for HBCU'S.
Joyner also is an author. In 2005 Warner Books published (along with his longtime writer, Mary Flowers Boyce) "I'm Just a DJ but ... It Makes Sense to Me". The book chronicles his childhood and early days in radio as well as offers Joyner's thoughts on HBCUs, the power of the black consumer and fatherhood. He appeared with his father and grandfather in the documentary "Rising from the Rails: The Story of the Pullman Porter" crediting his family with passing down important values which he passed down to his sons as well. His grandfather Oscar "Doc" Joyner was a Pullman porter who became a medical doctor.
Joyner was a participant in Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s PBS program African American Lives 2, which originally aired on February 6 and 13, 2008. The series traces the genealogy of prominent African-Americans while illuminating the history of the African-American community at large . In the series, he learned that his great-great-great grandfather was born in Africa and was a member of the Balanta people from Guinea Bissau. Additionally, it is revealed that members of his family left large land holdings in South Carolina in the wake of the convictions of his great-uncles for the murder of a white Confederate soldier, for which they were executed in 1915. During his interview, Joyner kids himself about the possibility of overturning one hundred year old convictions.