Tom Joyner brings his `Sky Show' here for Coppin

DJ goes live at the Arena at 6 a.m. tomorrow

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

April 29, 2004|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,SUN STAFF

Tom Joyner Morning Show fans who tune in to the popular DJ every day can do even better tomorrow: They can see the show live.

For the first time ever, Joyner, a nationally syndicated morning-show host who raises money for historically black colleges and universities, is bringing his famous Sky Show to Baltimore.

Joyner will hit the air at 6 a.m. from 1st Mariner Arena, where at least 5,000 people are expected to attend the free show. R&B diva Patti LaBelle and comedian Joe Torry are the headline acts.

His morning show is aired in more than 115 markets, including Radio One station WWIN 95.9 in Baltimore, and is heard by more than 8 million fans. Those fans listen for features such as "It's Your World," a soap opera spoof, or "Christmas Wish," where every Wednesday the show grants a listener one wish.

Joyner takes his show on the road just about every Friday with his sidekick crew -- J Anthony Brown, Ms. Dupre, Myra J. and Sybil Wilkes -- to support his Tom Joyner Morning Foundation, which raises money for historically black colleges. They do as many as 30 shows a year.

His Baltimore appearance will raise money for Coppin State University. Coppin students and faculty have been preparing for the event for five months with activities that included a pep rally in March. Several busloads of students and alumni are expected to attend.

"It is the most exciting thing we've ever done," said Coppin President Stanley F. Battle.

Joyner likes to say he throws a "party with a purpose," meaning his shows combine fun with political and social dialogue. So, while raising scholarship money the show will include games, an old school dance contest and lots of banter with his morning crew.

The first Sky Show was held in 1996 as a way to register voters and spark political debate around that year's presidential election. The shows have since evolved into fund-raisers and have collected more than $20 million for black colleges and universities.

A different school is targeted each month, and generally about 100 scholarships are given out at each school, said Neil Foote, a spokesman for Joyner.

"We're really trying to help students with outstanding debt, to help them with books and really to keep them in school," Foote said.

"Tom recognizes that a lot of black colleges have not had as much success in raising money from their alumni and have not had structured fund-raising programs," he added.

Joyner graduated from Tuskegee University, the historically black college in Alabama.

Joyner Sky Shows are known for bringing out "old school" rhythm and blues acts, such as Al Green, the Gap Band and The O'Jays.

In many cities, fans, some from out of town, line up the night before to get a seat at the shows. This year, TV One, a new cable station aimed at African-American audiences, began airing tapings of the Sky Shows.

For club events, see Page 32.

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