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Tom Foty, veteran CBS News Radio anchor, dies at 77

Veteran CBS News Radio anchor and correspondent Tom Foty died Tuesday, Dec. 26. He was 77.

Foty covered major breaking news stories from politics to blackouts to natural disasters and wars. A voice familiar to listeners worldwide, he filed his last radio report for CBS News on Dec. 21. 

Described by his radio colleagues as a "steadfast newsman," "a true gentleman" and "the ultimate radio guy," Foty joined CBS News in 1998 after reporting stints at NBC News and UPI Radio. 

"Those who worked with Tom knew him to be a solid journalist and all-around great colleague, whether it be in breaking news or to fill an overnight anchor shift," CBS News Radio executive editor Jennifer Brown told Washington station WTOP. 

Foty had a dual role at WTOP Radio, where he worked as a reporter and editor from 1997 until 2005.

He embodied "old-school journalism ethics, great stories, everyday dependable — and he knew how the equipment worked," Neal Augenstein, a WTOP reporter and colleague, said in tribute.

Tom Foty
CBS News Radio reporter and anchor Tom Foty CBS News

Foty's journalism career started in 1969 when he worked as a stringer for The Associated Press and the New York Daily News before launching his on-air career at WINS Radio. Shortly afterward he joined UPI Radio, where he covered breaking news stories and was promoted to Washington bureau manager and executive editor. 

"He managed UPI's Washington bureau, then he became its executive editor," CBS News colleague Peter King said. "But he also parachuted into breaking stories like the Peoples Temple mass suicide in Guyana, and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster."

After a period at Westwood One and Unistar Radio Networks, Foty co-founded  AudioCenter Productions, one of the first internet audio-video streaming services, and served as a consultant for news operations IT systems for ABC News, Gannett, and the BBC.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Foty was exposed to news events very early — and not always as an observer. As a child, he was trapped in an underground bomb shelter for several days after Soviet tanks crushed the 1956 Hungarian Uprising, and came back up to discover that the downtown house in which he lived had been leveled. Left homeless, he and his family subsequently escaped to Austria, where he was among the refugee children greeted by then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

The Foty family arrived in the U.S. on Christmas Day 1956, at the Camp Kilmer refugee camp in New Jersey. He was educated in New York City, earning a degree from the City College of New York, where he served as news director and then general manager of the college radio station. 

In May 2008, Foty was inducted into the CCNY Communications Alumni Hall of Fame.

"It's impossible to count the ways we'll miss him," King said in a radio remembrance.

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