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Tom Foty was born in Budapest, Hungary. He was exposed to the news very early on, and not always as an observer. As a child, Foty was trapped in an underground shelter for several days – after Soviet tanks crushed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution – and returned to find that the downtown house he lived in had been razed to the ground. Left homeless, he and his family then fled to Austria, where he was among the refugee children taken in by then-vice president Richard Nixon.
The Foty family arrived in the United States on Christmas Day 1956, at Camp Kilmer refugee camp in New Jersey. Tom was raised and educated in New York City, where he graduated from the City College of New York, where he served as news director and then CEO of the college radio station. While in college, he also worked as a stringer for the New York Daily News, The Associated Press, and WINS Radio.
Foty started his career at WINS all-news as an office assistant and then as a news editor. After a brief stint as a broadcast technician at WOR-FM and stringer for NPR, he joined the radio network operated by United Press International in New York, as editor and reporter. He covered important stories in the New York area, including the 1977 blackout. Foty then moved to Washington, DC, where he worked as a “firefighter” reporter for several years, covering Congress, the Department of State and the White House. In Washington, he covered landmark stories, from the mass murder-suicides of the People’s Temple in Guyana and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant crash to President Reagan’s assassination attempt and the Olympic Games in Sarajevo winter. Foty became the director of the Washington bureau and then the editor-in-chief of UPI Radio, overseeing the move of its headquarters from New York to Washington.
Foty also worked as a Washington correspondent for NBC Radio News and held other executive positions. He was deputy Washington bureau chief of NBC Radio News when it was acquired by Westwood One. He became head of Westwood One’s information technology system and oversaw the purchase and operation of Westwood’s first information computer.
He then joined Unistar Radio Networks (formerly RKO) as Day-to-Day News Officer. He then teamed up with a former Unistar colleague to create one of the Internet’s first audio / video streaming services, AudioCenter Productions. He has provided technology advice for the BBC, Gannett’s USA Today Sky radio and ABC News radio.
While still running AudioCenter in 1997, Foty returned to broadcast news on WTOP radio in Washington as a reporter and technical advisor. As a reporter, Foty was among the award-winning staff for CBS News Radio’s coverage of the recount battle between Bush and Gore, the DC-area snipers, and the 9/11 attacks.
In May 2008, Foty was inducted into the CCNY Communications Alumni Hall of Fame.