Joyner was born in Tuskegee, Alabama and received a degree in sociology from Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University). He began his broadcasting career in Montgomery, Alabama immediately upon graduation, and worked at a number of radio stations in the American South before moving to Chicago at WJPC (AM). While a student at Tuskegee University in the 1960s, Joyner became an original member of the soul/funk musical group The Commodores but departed the group before it became an international success, recording for Motown records during the early 1970s. Tom is also a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
In the mid-1980s, Joyner was simultaneously offered two positions: one for a morning show at KKDA (K104) in Dallas and one for an afternoon show at WGCI in Chicago. Instead of choosing between the two, Joyner chose to take both jobs, and for years he commuted daily by plane between the two cities, earning the nicknames "The Fly Jock" and "The Hardest Working Man in Radio."
In 1994, Joyner was signed by ABC Radio Networks to host a nationally-syndicated program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, featuring Joyner and a team of comedians and commentators reporting and discussing the latest news and sports of the day, and playing popular R&B songs from the 1970s through the 1990s as well as contemporary R&B hits. Also featured are celebrity guests, on-site remotes (called "Sky Shows"), and an on-air soap opera called "It’s Your World". Southwest Airlines is a prominent sponsor of the radio show, especially Joyner`s "Sky Shows," and free round-trip airfare to any destination that Southwest flies to is a recurring giveaway on his show.
In the Fall 2005, a nationally syndicated television show, The Tom Joyner Show was launched with Joyner as emcee of a one-hour comedy/variety show, combining sketch comedy featuring the "Tom Joyner Show Players" (his co-hosts from the radio show), talent contests, and musical performances. In May, 2006, affiliates learned that Joyner has decided not to continue due to the high production costs involved. Re-runs are shown on TV One.
He has been an advocate for voter registration and throughout the year promote voter registration over the air, on his website and during his `Sky Shows`, which are live, remote broadcasts of the show. To improve healthy living, Joyner holds a `Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day` every September`. On that day, he rallies families and friends to go to the doctor to get a check up to prevent any health problems, and particularly treat any existing issues.