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 eight years, collecting over 7 million frequent flyer miles.
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 in 1970. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and immediately began 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.