EXCLUSIVE: Rickey Smiley to replace Tom Joyner when he retires

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

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

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

Originally posted Wednesday, June 26, 2019 by RODNEY HO@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Tom Joyner is retiring at the end of this year and is planning to name his official successor Friday: Birmingham native, stand-up comic, reality star and author Rickey Smiley.

Smiley, who is already on more than 60 mostly hip-hop radio stations and has his own TV One reality show, will transition over to many of Joyner’s older-skewing urban AC stations nationwide in 2020.

Joyner and Smiley are both part of Dallas-based Reach Media, which is majority owned by Urban One.

>>RELATED: Joyner explained to me last year why he was retiring

Headkrack, part of Smiley's Atlanta-based syndicated morning show for many years, in 2020 will start his own syndicated show which will air on many existing hip-hop stations where Smiley is currently heard. That may include Hot 107.9.

This is a clear generational shift without a lot of strategic risk. Smiley is already a known national figure and the hope is his older fans will move with him. And Reach Media executives believe Headkrack is ready to lead his own show while bringing in his own fans as he develops and matures as a leader.

Joyner, who was the first successful syndicated morning host in urban radio going back more than two decades, will turn 70 by the end of the year. Smiley, who started radio syndication in Atlanta in 2007, will be 51 in August. Headkrack, whose real name is Lester Raynel Ruffin, is 41.

The legendary Joyner is currently heard in Atlanta on Classix 102.9 after more than 20 years on Kiss 104.1.

Bronx-born Headkrack, whose weekend radio show is heard Sunday mornings on Hot in Atlanta, is also part of the syndicated TV  gossip show 'Dish Nation," seen in Atlanta on Fox 5 at 7 p.m. weekdays. Gary With Da Tea, Da Brat and Porsha Williams are also part of that TV show. Headkrack is also a rapper who has released his own music.

UPDATE on 6/28: On Friday, Joyner provided more details. He said Smiley will move to Dallas, where Reach Media is based.

Eva Marcille and Gary With Da Tea will join Smiley in Dallas. Marcille, who has been on "Real Housewives of Atlanta" the past season, subbed for Porsha Williams on "Dish Nation" earlier this year while Williams was on maternity leave. It's unclear how this will impact Marcille's future on "Real Housewives."

In a press release, Smiley said the following:

"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. Tom's mentorship has instilled in me valuable wisdom that I will carry with me through this new morning show."