Remembering Fred Thomas, ‘a Kingdom dude trying to heal the land, one laugh at a time’

Remembering Fred Thomas, ‘a Kingdom dude trying to heal the land, one laugh at a time’

Fred Thomas

Pastor, Comedian and all around good guy Fred Thomas known as “Pastor Fred” passed away on last week and as you can imagine, there is a deep sense of loss that has overtaken the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Actually, this loss has been felt across America as The Pastor Fred touched lives with laughter on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, as a musician and performer in the traditional and quartet segments of the gospel music industry. He was also a churchman and had served as Pastor of two churches in his ministry career.

I’m not sure if everybody knew Fred, or if he knew everybody! He was always good for a laugh, even when he wasn’t feeling good. His jovial nature and sunny disposition was always a bright light wherever he was and it’s fair to say that life’s skies are a little overcast, since he passed away. Whenever we would see each other, I would always say “two Freds are better than one” and this week, I’m hurting a little. When gospel icon Joe Ligon passed away, Pastor Fred graciously accepted my invitation to come on the show to share memories of the “Bossman”. Pastor Fred was the only non member of the Mighty Clouds of Joy on the broadcast as I was joined by Ron Stapleton, Ervin “Big Man” Williams and longtime member, Johnny Valentine.

I’m just a Kingdom dude trying to heal the land one laugh at a time!

Pastor Fred Thomas

On a more personal note, Fred was an inspiration to me because he was a striver. He was a man striving to live out his life’s dreams and provide for his family. Whenever there was a setback, he bounced back, just not this time.

Fred Thomas was a musician, singer, Pastor, actor and comedian. As a man, he was a father and husband and from where I could see, he did his best in each role and talent. It seems as if he knew everybody in church and met even more people on the air with Rickey Smiley. The two of them could go on for hours and even days sharing laughs across social media. Fred was a pure comedian who didn’t need to make fun of anyone or anything to be funny…he would show you the comedy in each moment or setting.

If you want to support Pastor Fred’s family, you can do so here.

Fred’s personality and laugh were larger than life and even though his star shone bright, he was perfectly fine here at home. You know what I mean when I talk about the switch up with fame. Instead, it seems that with each viral video, commercial, role in a play, tv show or movie, he wanted to do more! When Blue Bell was removed from the shelves because of a listeria outbreak, it was Fred’s gospel inspired song that seemingly got the belts moving on assembly lines to bring back ‘the best ice cream in the country.’ Not to be outdone, another Texas treasure, Whataburger created a campaign featuring Fred Thomas, who in another viral video sang the praises of the chain’s honey butter chicken biscuit.

In a 2016 interview for following his viral Blue Bell video, I described “Pastor Fred” as more than a comedian, he was a heart doctor. His jokes just might knock you sideways or cause you to laugh yourself into a stupor. He understood that ‘a merry heart doeth good like a medicine’ (Proverbs 17:22) and did all he can to heal the land with laughter! Pastor Fred was able to not only inspire others through his comedy, comedy was healing for him as a victim of molestation.

Thomas’ videos exceeded normal views and regularly nudged the viral meter. Thomas even found a way to speak on current events by “whooping hot topics” and found himself at the center of another hot topic when teenagers in McKinney came face to face with the barrel of a police firearm. Thomas was tapped to be a part of the “Heal McKinney” event in the weeks following the altercation that made national media headlines.

Two Freds are better than one…

Here’s the conversation from that 2016 interview with The Pastor Fred:

This interview was originally posted on and was transcribed from a phone call. Here’s our conversation,

Willis: Anything in particular you want the people to know about you?

Thomas: I’m just a Kingdom dude trying to heal the land one laugh at a time

Willis: You’re an actual Pastor?

Thomas: Without charge lol. In other words I don’t currently shepherd a flock, but I’ve Pastored two COGIC churches

Willis: Oh, cool. I first heard of you with it ain’t no fun being fat, was that your first bit?

Thomas: Yes

Willis: What inspired you to go public with the bit, were you trying to go viral?

Thomas: Not at all. When I get inspired I just put it out there. Had no idea it would go this far.

Willis: Favorite Blue Bell flavor?

Thomas: Butter Pecan

Willis: Yeah mine too. You were visible with the McKinney pool party aftermath and you’re going to OKC for ‘A Night of Healing’. How are you merging comedy with ministry, especially when some things are no laughing matter?

Thomas: God told me I’m moving from church to Kingdom. Laughter brings about healing which opens people up to deal with issues. God told me that “FAT” to everyone means “Facing All Trials”. I was molested as a kid and after 30 years I dealt with it through laughter and in turn, that’s how I help others.

Willis: Wow! So what’s next for you, what are your aspirations for your comedy? You see yourself on bigger stages than church?

Thomas: …At this point I’m following God’s lead!

Viewing Details:

Fred Thomas was a gift to the world, and we are so blessed to have had time with him here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. He blessed so many people with laughter and his uplifting spirit. To say he will be missed doesn’t even convey the deep sense of loss that has engulfed the metroplex since news of his passing broke.

Tom Joyner’s Retirement Making Room for New Rickey Smiley Urban AC Show, Debuting January 2nd

Tom Joyner’s Retirement Making Room for New Rickey Smiley Urban AC Show, Debuting January 2nd

Smiley to take his popular morning show to a new and expanded audience as Tom Joyner retires his groundbreaking Morning Show

Today on The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Tom introduced listener favorite Rickey Smiley as the successor to the morning anchor position established by Tom over the course of 25 years. Joyner, who is retiring at the end of the year, acknowledged that Smiley has established himself as a trusted leader on-air and in the community with his current show, captivating audiences with his authentic humor but also his unique perspective on topics important to his audience. Smiley also announced that Eva Marcille and Gary Wit Da Tea would be among the on-air cast members joining him to broadcast out of the Dallas studios beginning January 2020. Additional details about the show will be shared in the coming months. 

 Joyner reflected on his accomplishments and the future“I’m happy to see the landscape of Urban AC morning radio continue to expand with Rickey, and I’m proud of the doors the Tom Joyner Morning Show opened. Twenty-five years ago, there was no template for a syndicated Urban radio show and we worked hard to prove that we could successfully produce and market a national platform that would entertain, inform and empower African-American listeners. We broke some ground, raised the bar for what audiences expected from Black radio all while partying with a purpose. Yeah, we’ve done a lot but there’s still a lot left to be done. I’m confident that Rickey’s activism along with his love for radio, the community, and HBCUs, will pick up where we left off.” 

 Making the announcement public, Rickey Smiley shared his excitement“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.” 

David Kantor, Reach Media and Radio One CEO, acknowledged the collaboration, “Tom changed the entire urban radio marketplace. He entertained and educated multiple generations of listeners over the last 25 years. While there is and will always be only one Tom Joyner, we are excited that Rickey will be moving to Urban AC in January. Like Tom, Rickey’s talent, community consciousness and commitment to his audience will serve his listeners well.”  Reach Media’s other current morning Urban AC program, The Russ Parr Morning Show, will also continue in syndication into 2020. 

BACKGROUND: Rickey Smiley Morning Show Brand and Trajectory The Rickey Smiley Morning Show has been recognized for its excellence in connecting with its listeners, and continues to grow with the belief that “Radio is community”. The industry took notice in 2017 awarding Rickey with the NAB Radio Marconi Award as the top national/syndicated talent. Rickey uses personality, humor, conviction and relevant information to deliver a high-energy morning show engaging his listening community in unexpected ways. His show has distinguished itself with its innovative mix of entertainment and an unfiltered view on contemporary black life and parenthood, focusing on family, community and mentorship. Smiley uses his radio platform to express his belief that “we are responsible for each other”, including purchasing a car for a young man profiled on social media who persisted through a daily 3-hour bus commute to his high school for well over a year in order to graduate. Similarly, the discovery of a co-host’s history with domestic violence prompted Rickey to put a spotlight on the urgency of the issue along with the resources available to provide support to victims. Having attended Alabama State University and participated in numerous HBCU tours, Smiley is an ardent supporter of education – especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Rickey reinforces his radio brand 24/7 interacting online, socially with 5 million followers, through his stand-up comedy, reality-based TV shows, and publishing – all amplifying his voice! 

Gary Wit Da Tea, well established as everyone’s favorite diva, dishes the hottest gossip on the world of entertainment and his colorful opinions on all topics. With over 22 years on radio, along with numerous TV and charitable initiatives, he’s someone whose thoughts listeners look forward to hearing. 

Eva Marcille, while originally known as a high fashion model and television celebrity, contributes a relatable women’s point of view with her sharp wit and sometimes challenging position, bringing balance to the show. She shares her life with listeners from entrepreneurial pursuits to marriage and motherhood. 

BACKGROUND: Tom Joyner’s Career and Influence
In his 25 years as a leader in the industry, Tom Joyner’s impact and influence have never wavered. His morning “Party with a Purpose” revolutionized radio when it became the first morning show with music in syndication. Known widely as “The Hardest Working Man in Radio,” Joyner has made a career of doing the extraordinary in order to serve his audience: flying round-trip between Dallas and Chicago five days a week for seven years hosting morning drive and afternoons in two different cities; raising money to support students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities with The Tom Joyner Foundation; producing and hosting a celebration of black families and communities, the Allstate Tom Joyner Family Reunion; galvanizing his listeners to provide relief funds for survivors of natural disasters. The Tom Joyner Morning Show is heard as a guide to the future of communications in the African-American community, consistently promoting relevant issues and social causes that need attention and action.


Rickey Smiley responds to ‘business decision’ at 97.9 in Dallas

Rickey Smiley responds to ‘business decision’ at 97.9 in Dallas

Social media lit up last weekend with news that The Rickey Smiley Morning Show would end in Dallas and no longer be heard on 97.9 The Beat. Early reports erroneously reported that the show would be replaced with a revival of sorts for the “Mark in the Morning” (which ended last year) fueling rumors of a format change, but the syndicated show which began in Dallas has been replaced by talent at the Dallas station, Veda Loca.  Smiley had no time for bitterness or shade, but set the tone in the video by addressing the change purely as a business decision.

Watch the video, below.

With syndication ruling the airwaves, the move came as a huge shock, though many listeners loathe ‘piped in’ shows which currently dominate the landscape of local radio. Many listen to Smiley’s morning show and watch the show’s segments on “Dish Nation” later in the day, so the unexpected and unprecedented move comes as a shock to listeners who have taken to social media to express their shock, anger and to demand Smiley’s return.

Smiley being the great sport he is returned the favor in kind. In a nearly 10 minute live video, he encouraged listeners to instead of actually support Veda Loca and her new morning show. Recounting her support to the team in its infancy which began at the station, Smiley stated repeatedly how deserving of the prominent time slot (dominated by men) he feels Veda Loca is.

As we’ve grown to expect from Rickey Smiley, he didn’t deliver his message without a little preach to it. Smiley told viewers of the video to understand the importance of letting some things go in order to receive new ones. He let viewers know that he’s currently on a press tour for his newest book “Stand By Your Truth” and has no time for bitterness when he’s actually increasing.

Smiley will no longer be on the air in Dallas- a top five media market in America, but remains on the other markets he is currently heard in. Other rumors speculated that the show would be going away altogether, which is unfounded.

Smiley encouraged everyone to give Veda Loca a chance, which is what he got when Steve Harvey left the market in Dallas. He stands by the station’s decision and encourages listeners to continue supporting the station. That’s how you handle change, embrace it!

You can still see all the team’s antics on “Dish Nation” and follow them on their very active social channels!



Season 3 of TV One’s Rickey Smiley For Real has followed the highs and lows as Rickey Smiley has gone     through parenting trials and tribulations with his kids. It seems just as one relationship improves, another falls short!

Last week, when Rickey attempts to surprise Malik by bringing his favorite boxer, Heavyweight Boxing Champion Roy Jones Jr. to his practice, the teen shows out and doesn’t want to participate. The season finale picks up with Jones Jr. having a heart-to-heart with Malik about respecting his father on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. ET.
“I learned all the stuff that you love about me from my father,” said Jones Jr. “Our fathers mean the most and the best for us. They’re not there to be an enemy, even when it seems like they are. They mean well and they try to give us the best that they can give us. So, you have to learn to trust your father.”

As Rickey watches the champion boxer talk to his son, he’s left speechless.

“Sitting there watching Roy Jones give my son a real talk about respect was deep,” said Rickey. “When you be defiant and you don’t do what your parents tell you to do, you the one that miss out on your blessings. I hope he learned a lesson from this.
Later, Rickey welcomes Comedian Tony Rock to the morning show to discuss his new venture as the host of TV One’s The Game of Dating.
“We’ve all been in a restaurant, chilling with your boys or out on a date, and you see a couple across the room and you just try to play that game like ‘what are they going through…are they breaking up or is it a first date,'” said Rock. “So we turned that into a game show! It’s pretty simple to follow the rules. You get the answer right, you get some money and the team with the most money at the end of the game wins $10,000.”
Rock plays the game with Rickey, Da Brat, Gary With Da Tea and Headkrack and their responses to the dating scenario have the crew divided.
Read more about “The Game of Dating
“The show is hilarious because it’s going to have you the edge of your seat,” said Rickey.
“If you’re watch with your girl, y’all going to be arguing about the questions or what you think the answer is. You do not want to miss this show. This is probably going to be one of the best game shows ever! Now I want to be a game show host!”
Other highlights throughout the finale include:
  • D’Essence confronts Rickey to find out why he was a no-show at her pageant
  • Malik tells Brandon about his plans to leave the country for college, however Brandon thinks he’s running from dad
  • Rickey calls a family meeting to address the house rules when the kids come to town
  • Gary with Da Tea has a team meeting with Swan, Shanté, Brandon and Special K in preparation for his talk show premiere. Later, the big day arrives for the first show taping featuring Trina and Towanda Braxton, Karlie Redd and, of course, Rickey Smiley.



For more information on TV One’s Rickey Smiley For Real, visit the network’s YouTube Channel and website at Viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hash tag #RICKEYSMILEYFORREAL. For more information on Smiley‘s personal and professional background, please visit: and

Rickey Smiley For Real is produced by Bobbcat Films for TV One with Rickey Smileyand Roger M. Bobb as executive producers and Angi Bones and Shante Paige as co-executive producers. For TV One, Lamar Chase is executive-in-charge of production, Robyn Greene Arrington is vice president of original programming and production, and D’Angela Proctor is head of original programming and production.
Launched in January 2004, TV One serves more than 60 million households, offering a broad range of
and entertainment-focused original programming, classic series, movies and music designed to entertain and inform a diverse audience of adult black viewers. The network represents the best in black culture and entertainment with fan favorite shows Unsung, Rickey Smiley For Real, Fatal Attraction, Hollywood Divas and The NAACP Image Awards.  In addition, TV One is the cable home of blockbuster drama Empire, and NewsOne Now, the only live daily news program dedicated to black viewers. In December 2008, the company launched TV OneHigh Def, which now serves 14 million households. TV One is solely owned by Radio One [NASDAQ: ROIA and ROIAK,], the largest radio company that primarily targets Black and urban listeners.
For more information about TV One, viewers can join the conversation by visiting the network’s companion website at www.tvone.tvTV One viewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hash tag #REPRESENT and catch clips and promos on TV One’s YouTube Channel.
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