Longtime CBS, WTOP journalist Tom Foty dies at 77

CBS's Peter King remembers longtime anchor Tom Foty.

His was a voice familiar to WTOP listeners, often during the late night and overnight hours: longtime CBS News Radio Washington anchor and reporter Tom Foty died Tuesday at 77.

Foty was a mainstay for CBS News starting in 1998, covering everything from government affairs to international news, according to his colleague Peter King.

CBS News Radio Washington anchor and reporter Tom Foty died Tuesday at 77. (Courtesy CBS News/Ingrid Belqaid)

“He managed UPI’s Washington bureau, then he became its executive editor,” King said of Foty’s career trajectory. “But he also parachuted into breaking stories like The Peoples Temple mass suicide in Guyana, and the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.”

Foty was an employee at WTOP from 1997 through 2005, as a radio reporter and editor, and was one of the early editors of wtop.com, which launched in 1996.

“Tom was the first person who trained me when I came to WTOP in 1997,” reporter Neal Augenstein said. “Like Tom, I’d come from UPI. He’s remained the self-appointed historian of UPI.”

Augenstein respected Foty’s work, calling him “the ultimate radio guy.”

“Old-school journalism ethics, great stories, everyday dependable. And he knew how the equipment worked,” Augenstein said.

WTOP anchor Dimitri Sotis was also a former UPI employee, saying Foty “always put in the work.”

“I liked how he used sound, and I always appreciated his sparse writing that got right to the point,” Sotis said. “He was ready to produce a report of high quality at three in the afternoon, three in the morning, or any other hour of the day.”

Foty was born in Budapest, Hungary. He spent several days in an underground bomb shelter as a child amid the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, according to his CBS News profile. He emerged to find that his family’s home had been leveled.

His family fled to Austria, then arrived at the Camp Kilmer refugee camp in New Jersey on Christmas Day in 1956.

Foty was raised in New York City, earning his degree at the City College of New York. There, he worked as news director and then general manager of the college radio station, according to his CBS profile. He also worked for the New York Daily News, The Associated Press and WINS radio before relocating to D.C.

“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 WTOP. “He was a steadfast newsman and true gentleman. He will be missed.”

Foty’s CBS colleagues remember him as a “super utility player,” reporting and anchoring whenever needed, with precision and grace. During the network’s newsbreak, CBS News Correspondent Matt Pieper said Foty was always there, “often taking a nap before logging back on to help with the news of the day in between newscasts.”

He last appeared on the air for CBS News on Dec. 21.

“It’s impossible to count the ways we’ll miss him,” King said.

WTOP’s Kate Corliss contributed to this report.

Dana Sukontarak

Dana Sukontarak is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. She loves haiku poetry, short sci-fi stories and word games. She grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and currently lives in Silver Spring.

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