Tom started in the business in 1974 while a student at Winter Haven High School, trying hard to mask his thick New York City accent on the very-country WBAR in Bartow. During the next few years he worked as an air personality on other Polk County stations including WZNG and WSIR in Winter Haven, WGTO at Cypress Gardens, and WIPC in Lake Wales.
In 1976 Tom found a job at daytimer WHAN in Haines City. Mainly a two-person staff operation, he and fellow-deejay Dave Efurd usually split the day, sometimes with owners Ed and Betty Shadburne. The station used a block format with a typical day starting with AC on the morning show, followed by a live “buy, sell, trade” call-in show, and then finishing out the morning with The Swinging Years, a syndicated big band show.
Tom worked at WHAN until 1979 when David King and Robert (Bob) Yesbek purchased it and changed the format to oldies and call letters to WFXI. That’s when he landed a gig doing news at WQPD in Lakeland. He actually considered himself less of a journalist and more of a straight-man to a succession of morning show hosts. His worst memory during that time was the suicide of his morning show partner, Roscoe P. Goodtyme, in 1980. His best memory was a new on-air partnership with station manager Jay Kuppers. The two provided old-fashioned local home-spun humor in a radio world that was fast moving in a different direction.
In 1982, Tom took a break from Polk County radio and moved to the Tampa Bay market, writing and producing for “The Higby-Miller Report” morning news show on WWBA. In 1983 he moved to WLCY/WRBQ for a short stint as a staff reporter and weekend news anchor.
Later that year Tom headed back to Polk County and returned to WQPD, this time as news director, during the stations’ transition to new owners, a new format (CHR to AC) and new call letters, WLKF. From 1984 to 1986 he worked in Bartow with Tom and Sue Thornburg at WWBF but eventually moved back to Lakeland once again, taking the overnight airshift on WLKF and the production director’s job for sister station 94.1 WVFM.
Tom moved to Long Island, New York and managed a night club between 1988 and 1992. He returned to radio as a copywriter and eventually production director at WMJC/WGSM in Huntington, NY where he won a BOLI (Best on Long Island) advertising award and was featured on the nationally-distributed RAB Great Ideas radio commercials. He also won Arbitron’s Great Radio Promotion award as part of the 1993 Mercury Awards.
In 1993 Tom moved to Virginia as production director at WFOG, a 5kw AM in Norfolk. He retired from radio in 1996 to open a web development business, and today (2006), with his family, makes his home in Virginia Beach.
1979 - 1982 WQPD-AM 1430 - Lakeland (News)