Tom Foty was born in Budapest, Hungary. He was exposed to news events very early, and not always as an observer. As a child, Foty was trapped in an underground bomb shelter for several days — after Soviet tanks crushed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution- 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 United States on Christmas Day, 1956, at the Camp Kilmer refugee camp in New Jersey. Tom was raised and 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. While in college, he also worked as a stringer for the New York Daily News, the Associated Press, and WINS radio.
Foty began his career at all-news WINS as a desk assistant, then as a news writer. After a brief stint as a broadcast tech at WOR-FM and a stringer for NPR, he joined the radio network managed by United Press International in New York, serving as an editor and reporter. He covered major stories in the New York area, including the 1977 blackout. Foty then moved on to Washington, DC, where he worked as a “fireman” reporter for several years, covering Congress, the State Department and the White House. In DC, he covered major breaking stories, from the People’s Temple mass suicide-murders in Guyana and the Three Mile Island nuclear plant accident to the attempted assassination of President Reagan and the Sarajevo Winter Olympics. Foty became the Washington Bureau Manager and then Executive Editor of UPI Radio, supervising its headquarters move from New York to Washington.
Foty also worked as a Washington-based correspondent for NBC Radio News, and held other management jobs. He was Deputy Washington Bureau Chief of NBC Radio News when it was acquired by Westwood One. He became responsible for Westwood One’s news technology system and supervised the purchase and operation of Westwood’s first news computer.
He then moved to the Unistar Radio Networks (formerly RKO) as a day-to-day news manager. He later partnered with a former Unistar colleague to create one of the first Internet audio/video streaming services, AudioCenter Productions. He provided technology consultation for the BBC, Gannett’s USA Today Sky Radio, and ABC News Radio.
While still running AudioCenter in 1997, Foty returned to broadcast news at all-news WTOP Radio in Washington as a news reporter and technical advisor. As a reporter, Foty was part of the award-winning staff for CBS News Radio’s coverage of the Bush-Gore recount battle, the DC area snipers, and the attacks of September 11.
In May of 2008, Foty was inducted into the CCNY Communications Alumni Hall of Fame.