Air Joyner

Onetime fly jock Tom Joyner has landed a radio deal with Corporate America that is making him the conscience of the black community

"People ask me all the time about how it feels," says Joyner. "But it's not a power trip; it's an empowering trip."

Joyner had to figure that some of the listeners who protested Christie's were the same people who were now purchasing his book, the proceeds of which will be donated to his latest venture, "Dollars for Scholars." Each month needy students attending historically black colleges or universities will receive funds to assist them with their education. If the crowd at Black Images is any barometer of the success of On Air, book sales should be brisk. Every book was purchased within minutes, as many stood in line for hours to obtain an autographed copy from Joyner, Smiley, and Wilkes.

Although Joyner has renewed his multimillion contract for another six years, he has been in the business long enough to realize that the medium is full of copycats, and in an industry hungry for product, he may face stiff competition in the future. "I'm just the first," says Joyner. "There will be others."

But as Tom Joyner goes, so goes urban contemporary radio, and for his five million listeners--in markets as diverse as Tuskegee; Miami; Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles--for those who hang on his words to guide their thoughts and actions, there is only one Tom Joyner.

Of course, that just might be enough.

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