Sybil Wilkes Prepares for a New Radio Journey
Sybil Wilkes has inspired, informed and brought the laughter to the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) for 25 years. Tom is hanging up the microphone at the end of the year but Sybil will keep bringing that Black Girl Magic to a new show and is just getting started. She chopped it up with Radio Facts’ TV and radio personality Jazmyn Summers (This podcast interview has been edited for this post)
JASMYN SUMMERS: Tell us about your new project “Sybil Wilkes What You Need To Know?”
SYBIL WILKES: Oh, my goodness. I am just so blessed and excited to be doing this. I'm lucky to be working with my best friend again. She and I met when Tom brought us all together to do the Tom Joyner Morning Show (TJMS) more than 25 years ago. Yolanda Starks White. We became best friends. She's coming back out of her so-called retirement in another business to be my executive producer. It really is going to be about, Black Girl Magic, about women doing it for ourselves.
This will be done with the help of David Kantor, CEO, Radio Division & Reach Media, and all the other good folks at Radio One and the Radio One properties. I'm going to be delivering news and political updates, as I have been doing for Tom Joyner . But we'll be doing it for the other syndicated programs that we have. That's really my passion. I'm very excited and a little nervous, but excited about what the year 2020 and the elections are going to bring. Whatever your political makeup is, whatever your leanings are, I just want people to be involved. And that includes getting people to register to vote I know we said it before, but this is really the most critical election of our lifetime.
What are the top three types of news stories that you’ll be focusing on?
The most important one is I want to get people registered [to vote] because part of the problem is that there is a real effort on the part of the other party [Republicans] to dismiss people from voting and to have them purged. And so we have to do everything we possibly can to make sure that this does not happen. If this purging had not taken place in Georgia. We would have a black woman governor there right now.
When you look at the margins of victory around the country particularly where Black folks are strong, all they have to do is peel off a small percentage. And that’s what the voter suppression does. It impacts Blacks, elderly folks, young people, all the folks who tend to vote Democratic.
Yeah we got our kids who are in college and they're taking away the voting polls from the college campuses, especially from the historically black colleges and universities. You have people who have been going to the same place and suddenly finding it gone. My parents are both deceased. But I know that the same school across the street where I grew up, going with my mom to vote, just overnight, they could change that. So voter registration and doing away with the horrible efforts to stop people from voting and combating voter suppression is probably the most important thing in terms of voting.
You are like a fighter for democracy. You go, girl. I really am. I’ll also be doing a newsletter and developing programs that we're going to take around the country. It's about helping and supporting black women physically and mentally. My best friend and I, we have a yoga studio in Fort Worth. So when you come to Dallas, People in the studio look like you and me. That's really important.
JS: You've been with Tom Joyner for 25 years. What’s the secret to that longevity?
SW: Mortgage payments? (lol). Seriously, my mother used to say; where else could I get paid for what I used to get in trouble for? And, you know, in my graduation addresses, I tell students if you can find something you love, you'll never work a day in your life. And I've been blessed to do something that I love. And despite the hours, you know, and getting up at one o'clock and two o'clock and three o'clock in the morning, I really couldn't imagine doing anything else.
JS: You always rock those big words like lagniappe (extra gift or bonus) that helped us all front like we were super smart (lol). Will that continue?
SW: I love the power of words. And that's why I love radio. I don't want to do television. I just love radio. And I love giving people information and also encouraging them to expand their vocabulary and to do great things, helping us grow, helping us grow mind, body, soul.
JS: What was the most embarrassing moment with Tom?
SW: I don't know if Tom remembers this, but back in the day before he started wearing all the expensive suits and doing all that, he was just like a real regular guy. In the summertime, when we would do live shows he would wear shorts and his shirt or whatever and he was going commando.
But here's the other thing. Tom drinks a lot of water, and he sweats profusely, which is a good thing for your body. But when you're in the middle of a Sky Show and he's got these light-colored shorts on and he comes out from behind the stage for another hour of the show … somebody pointed out “Oh, my God! Tom peed on himself!” And we were like, oh, no, no, no, no, no, we had to go and quickly pull him off the set and get him a change of clothes and just get him out of the way. You can’t have the Fly Radio DJ looking like he peed on himself.
JS: Because you're funny and can do everything from gossip to news, people don't realize you are also one deep sister. You've got some doctorate degrees going on. You have a bachelor of science in political science and communications studies. I mean, you are the all-around, gorgeous, smart, funny, exciting boss chick. Does that make dating difficult? We rarely hear about your love life. You keep that on the low – so spill the tea –are you booed up?
SW: No, I'm not. And it's very difficult when you get up in the middle of the night to go to work. First of all, because you can't stay out and play all night. Here’s the other thing, guys who hear you on the radio think that they want to be a part of the crew. You know, back in the day when it was Tom, J, Myra, Miss. Dupri, me and George Wallace … that's what they really want.
They want to hang with the crew. And so you have to be very discriminating in terms of ‘are they there for the crew?' ‘Are they there for you?' And it makes you very wary in terms of relationships. And because I talk for a living. I don't need to come home and talk for the rest of the day either. But when you are dating in another city it's even better because when he starts to get bored with me, I'm like, I got to go. (lol)
JS: I can't imagine anybody getting bored with you, but you probably can't online date because you're a public figure.
SW: I've not tried it. And you know what? A lot of my friends are still recommending it. I have friends who have met their mates for life online. So I’m open.
JS: OK, Well thank you for chopping it up with us. Check out Sybil Wilkes What you need to know on Radio One. You don't want to miss it. You will stay informed. You'll stay laughing. You'll stay inspired and it'll keep you healthy. Mind, body, soul. Thanks, Sybil
SW: Thank you Jasmyne.