Smiley Joyner

It’s official: Rickey Smiley is being tapped to succeed Tom Joyner when Joyner retires at the end of the year after 25 years in syndicated morning radio. Joyner broke the news to listeners Friday morning on his show, introducing Smiley to his audience. “You’ve got to keep the party with a purpose going and find a purpose to the party,” Joyner told Smiley.

Joyner’s Dallas-based morning show is syndicated nationally to urban AC stations by Reach Media. The one-time “Fly Jock” was named anchor of the first morning show with music in syndication in January 1994, a groundbreaking move at the time.

“Twenty-five years ago, there was no template for a syndicated urban radio show and we worked hard to prove that we could successfully produce and market a national platform that would entertain, inform and empower African-American listeners,” Joyner said in a news release. Reflecting on his accomplishments, he added, “We broke some ground, raised the bar for what audiences expected from black radio all while partying with a purpose.” 

In handing the urban AC morning baton over to Smiley, Joyner added, “I’m confident that Rickey’s activism along with his love for radio, the community, and HBCUs, will pick up where we left off.” 

Smiley currently hosts his own Reach Media-syndicated AM drive program heard on more than 60 younger-skewing urban contemporary stations across the country. “It’s an honor to continue the legacy of my boss and frat brother Tom Joyner. Not only has he been a friend to my family and me over the years, but we consider him family,” Smiley said. “Tom’s mentorship has instilled in me valuable wisdom that I will carry with me through this new morning show.” 

Reach Media, part of Urban One, is reportedly grooming Smiley show member Headkrack to eventually assume many of Smiley’s current younger-skewing affiliates. But Friday’s announcement made no mention of that. Reach Media did say that Eva Marcille and Gary Wit Da Tea would be among the on-air cast members joining Smiley to broadcast out of the Dallas studios beginning January 2020 and that more details about the show would be shared in the coming months.

Reach Media says its other morning urban AC program, “The Russ Parr Morning Show,” will also continue in syndication into 2020.

“Tom changed the entire urban radio marketplace. He entertained and educated multiple generations of listeners over the last 25 years,” Reach Media and Radio One CEO David Kantor said. “While there is and will always be only one Tom Joyner, we are excited that Rickey will be moving to Urban AC in January. Like Tom, Rickey’s talent, community consciousness and commitment to his audience will serve his listeners well.” 

Joyner resumes his “One More Time Experience” next month with stops in Columbus (July 12), St. Louis (July 13), Raleigh (July 19) and Charlotte (July 20).