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Radio host Tom Joyner to speak at Livingstone Founder’s Day

By Kimberly Harrington

Livingstone College

SALISBURY — Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner will be the Founder’s Day speaker at Livingstone College next week as he completes his final year on the air.

The Founder’s Day program will be at 11 a.m. Feb. 7 at Varick Auditorium to celebrate the life and legacy of Livingstone’s founder, Dr. Joseph Charles Price.

This is a special occasion for three reasons:

• Livingstone College has been selected as the Tom Joyner Foundation School of the Month for February.

• The college is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year.

• Joyner is retiring from radio at the end of the year.

Also that evening, Livingstone will induct members of the United Negro College Fund “Share Your Love” Hall of Fame.

“Founder’s Day is an extraordinary time on campus each year as we celebrate Dr. Price with pomp and circumstance,” said college President Jimmy R. Jenkins. “Having Tom Joyner here adds an extra special touch to the occasion as we incorporate School of the Month and our milestone anniversary into the celebration, but particularly because he has chosen to spend part of his last year in radio with us.”

A legendary radio personality, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Joyner is host of the nationally syndicated radio program “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.”

A 1970 graduate of Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college, Joyner has used his influence to support historically black colleges and universities through his foundation. Since 1998, the foundation, chaired by Joyner, has raised more than $65 million to help keep students enrolled at HBCUs and has assisted more than 29,000 students.

Joyner has worked with more than 100 HBCUs and has an honorary degree from every such school in the continental U.S. and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Raised in Tuskegee, Alabama, Joyner’s father was a Tuskegee Airman. Like many in the Deep South, Joyner participated in protests including one against a local radio station that refused to play “black” music. Eventually, the station manager relented and Joyner nominated himself for the job.

After college, Joyner worked for several radio stations in Montgomery, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis; and Dallas. He eventually ended up in Chicago. In the mid-1980s, Joyner was offered a morning-drive time position at KKDA in Dallas and an afternoon spot at WGCI in Chicago. Joyner chose both positions.

His plan was to fly thousands of miles every weekday between Dallas and Chicago. Because of the long hours, Joyner received the affectionate nicknames “The Fly Jock” and “The Hardest Working Man in Radio.” He continued his commute for eight years, collecting more than 7 million frequent-flyer miles while gaining national publicity and higher ratings.

In 1994, Joyner persuaded entertainment powerhouse ABC Radio Networks to take his radio show nationwide, leading ABC to launch “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” into national syndication.

Over the years, Joyner has used his influence to inspire and activate listeners daily, catering specifically to the African-American audience. Because of the show’s reach and responsive audience, it has become a hot spot for celebrities, companies and national politicians hoping to connect with the community. Both President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have been frequent guests on the show.

Joyner has received numerous awards including the Radio Hall of Fame, NAACP Image Award, BET Humanitarian Award, Denny’s Community Impact Award, Billboard’s Best Urban Contemporary Air Personality Award and Impact Magazine’s Best DJ of the Year Award, which was renamed the Tom Joyner Award because he received it so many times.

This is Joyner’s second time visiting Livingstone. He was the commencement speaker in 2007, when the college was also selected February School of the Month.

“In our last partnership, we were able to secure nearly $700,000 in student scholarships in seven months. This is a great opportunity to re-engage some of our key stakeholders, more specifically our alumni and individual members of the AME Zion Church,” said Anthony Davis, special consultant to the president for philanthropy and development.

Honorary degree

The Rev. George McKain, director of public affairs and social concerns of the AME Zion Church, will receive an honorary doctorate from Livingstone College on Founder’s Day.

McKain is a graduate of Livingstone with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He earned his master of divinity from Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury and an external certificate in executive leadership from Wake Forest University Babcock Graduate School of Management.

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