Tom Joyner retiring from radio in 2019

Tom Joyner has been on Kiss 104.1 for more than 20 years. CREDIT: Getty Images

Posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tom Joyner, the first successful syndicated urban radio morning host, announced this morning he’s going to retire in two years.

Joyner, who works out of Dallas and is heard locally on Atlanta’s Kiss 104.1, has been hosting the show since 1994. If he retires in 2019, that would make a clean 25 years with the show.

The announcement came out of the blue. “What a surprise,” said Tony Kidd, vice president of programming for Cox Media Group Atlanta. “I don’t know what we’ll do yet.”

Joyner’s note on his blog did not clearly explain why he chose this time to leave the airwaves, but he will be 69 in 2019. Since he started his show, he’s faced off against numerous rivals including Steve Harvey (heard locally on Majic 107.5/97.5), Russ Parr (heard locally on Old School 87.7) and Rickey Smiley (heard locally on Hot 107.9).

Tom Joyner fast facts

Joyner kept the note upbeat: “We will continue to be reachable, relevant and ready to super serve our audience in true Tom Joyner Morning Show fashion. The celebration will be epic as we remember the guests, the laughs, the tears, the bits, the unforgettable moments we’ve shared together…and, of course we’ll be making new memories along the way.”

And he added: “When we go off the air each morning, I never say goodbye…and I’m not saying it now! Here’s to much more good radio!”

Fellow Alabama native, “Daily Show” correspondent and Kiss 104.1 afternoon host Roy Wood Jr. said “to call him only a radio DJ is a disservice. Radio has only amplified his mouthpiece and mission to encourage and uplift the black race. He doesn’t spin records and chase a paycheck. He figured out a way to use his platform to help people and save lives.”

Joyner, for instance, has raised more than $65 million for historically black colleges and has promoted voter registration for years.

Wood recalls after tornadoes tore through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham in 2011, Joyner showed up. “Being at point blank range from the man, I couldn’t even get the gumption to tell him thank you for coming to town to raise money,” he said. Since then, he has talked to Joyner and has nothing but the deepest respect for the man.

“In this world of fake news, I hope it’s a lie,” Wood added. “Jay-Z said he was going to quit three albums ago!”

Monica Pearson, the former Channel 2 Action News anchor who airs a weekly show on Kiss Sundays from noon to 3 p.m., said she likes the variety on the show, including the music, the comedy from Huggy Lowdown, the level-headed reasoning of Sybil and the commentary from the likes of Al Sharpton.  “He’s done an impressive job raising money for hurricane victims,” she said. (But she does admit she misses J. Anthony Brown, who left in late 2016 and joined Harvey’s show in April.)

Kiss has aired Joyner’s show since he debuted it in 1994. For many years, he’d host a monthly live Sky Show and would annually come to Atlanta, one of his biggest markets, often holding it at the Atlanta Civic Center. Fans would camp out overnight for the free show, which would feature big music acts and celebrity appearances.

J. Anthony Brown left Joyner last year. My interview with Brown at the time 

Kiss in late 2015 aired a temporary morning show featuring Sasha the Diva and Art Terrell while Joyner was running repeats.  At the time, there were rumors he was going to retire in 2017 but he knocked those down. That same year, Kiss trimmed his air time in Atlanta, dropping his 9 a.m. hour.

It’s unclear how many affiliates Joyner now has though he has exceeded 100.

Kiss 104.1 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are both part of Cox Media Group. 

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