BY AYANA ARCHIE
After 25 years of making waves in the radio industry, “The Hardest Working Man in Radio” and this year’s honorary NABJ convention chair, Tom Joyner, reflected on his storied career and what’s next for him after retirement.
Q: What does the title “Hardest Working Man in Radio” mean to you?
A: I got that when I was travelling back and forth from Dallas to Chicago doing daily shows. I’d get up in the morning, do the morning show in Dallas and was off at 9. My plane would leave at 9:30. I’d run to the gate, get to Chicago around noon, go exercise and wake up, on the air from 2 to 6 (p.m.), haul ass to O’Hare at 6:30, for a 6:30 flight and home by 9 or 10 to check homework. That’s why I am and always will be the hardest working man in radio, even though I don’t have that schedule. But Gen. Colin Powell is still a general, isn’t he?
Q. Why is supporting NABJ so important for you?
A: Anytime you have an organization that focuses on the needs of black people, either in journalism or anything else, there’s a need for it. And I’m just so glad that the founders came up with NABJ. It has been very effective in leveling the playing field in broadcasting. NABJ is very effective and should continue.
Q: Did you ever consider any career path other than radio?
A: Yeah, truck driving. In my little town, my best friend’s daddy owned a gas station and the trucks would come and fill up. It would take them hours and they would talk to us little kids, telling us stories, stories we weren’t supposed to hear, and I was so impressed. I was halfway through college and I still wanted to be a truck driver.
Q: So why did you move into radio?
A: I was protesting that the radio station in my hometown didn’t play black music. And the man came outside, and said ‘I see y’all protesting. I don’t need this, so which one of y’all want to go on the radio in the afternoon on Saturdays?’ And that’s how I built. It started from a protest.
Q: What is one moment in your career that’s made you very proud?
A: Every day, every day something incredible happens. Right now we’re doing the memories of the shows from 25 years and I don’t listen back because every day something extraordinary happens, so I’m hearing interviews and stuff that I’ve done that I never listen to and it gets me every time. It’s every day for me, literally, every day of my broadcast career is an incredible day. My worst day is somebody else’s very good day.
Q: What will you do with your free time after you retire?
A: I’m going to concentrate all of my efforts and all of my time on HBCUs and the Tom Joyner Foundation.