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Tom Thomas

Profile Updated: March 18, 2024
Tom Thomas
Tom Thomas


Tom Thomas


Tom Thomas


Yes! Attending Reunion
Class Year
Residing In
Brackenridge, PA USA
Retired TV graphics operator

As a youngster, I played the piano and organ at church. In school, being unsuited for sports or the marching band, I became a student manager for various teams. I even called play-by-play for a little basketball on local radio.

However, it was in the classroom that I made my mark, earning straight A’s. In the 1965 Ohio Scholarship Tests, I scored first in the state in physics. (Another of our Oberlin classmates, Ray Zepp '69, placed first in the state for algebra.)

Thus it was decided that physics would become my major in college. But which college? Our pastor, John Wagner, was a young and idealistic polio survivor. In 1963, he and other ministers went to Mississippi to protest segregation, for which I admired him. Visiting our home a year later, this Methodist minister might have recommended that I attend a Methodist college, but instead he suggested Oberlin for its academic excellence and liberal precepts. Other advantages included the absence of fraternity/sorority nonsense and the presence of a Conservatory, though I wasn’t talented enough to make music my career.

Upon my arrival, I discovered there was also an opportunity to describe basketball games on the radio. Before I knew it, I was WOBC’s sports director, eventually rising to Station Director for 1968-69. Although I did well enough in my studies, graduating summa cum laude, I found more pleasure hanging around the radio station.

Physics majors were expected to continue on to a PhD, but I decided to do what I enjoyed. (I’m glad I didn’t stay with science. It was becoming increasingly complicated and disconnected from everyday life. For example, former Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, who resigned following an institutional research misconduct investigation, has recently retracted a third paper, this one from Cell. I can’t even make sense of the title: A Ligand-Gated Association between Cytoplasmic Domains of UNC5 and DCC Family Receptors Converts Netrin-Induced Growth Cone Attraction to Repulsion.)

My interest in science having been Converted from Attraction to Repulsion, I ultimately continued on to Syracuse University where I obtained a graduate degree in radio and television.

Syracuse had rather outdated facilities back then (a black-and-white TV studio in the basement of the library), but I liked starting out with the basics. I continued in that vein for the next 12 years, managing local-origination TV studios for small-city cable TV systems. Using a couple of cameras, we produced programs a few hours a day for an audience we hoped was in the hundreds.

In 1982, my parent company was also taping Penn State football games for later broadcast, and they needed someone to operate the Vidifont. This was a computer that generated text to appear on the screen, such as “Joe Paterno / Nittany Lions Head Coach.” Because I was already on the payroll, I got the assignment, and I proved to have an aptitude for it. Before long, I was being hired on a freelance basis by other production companies to run their Chyrons. That became my career until I retired in 2020.

I’ve been on the crew for countless sports telecasts around Pittsburgh, plus eight Wrestlemanias, several NASCAR races, and trips to Tokyo and London. I worked for all the major networks including HBO, ESPN, and TBS, including three Olympics. Our NBC graphics crew earned an Emmy for the games in Seoul in 1988, so I have a golden statue in my apartment.

While administering the 50-year website for the 2019 reunion and reading the Classmate Profiles there, I was impressed by the achievements of Oberlin alumni living and dead. I feel slightly embarrassed to have chosen an entertaining career rather than "applying myself" and becoming a scientist. I admire what the rest of you have done in education and government and music and medicine and much more besides, while all I’ve accomplished has been to type batting averages onto TV screens. Nevertheless, it’s been fun.

Major at Oberlin


School Story

I have lots of Oberlin stories on my personal website, dating back as far as 1835. To find the list, go to t2buck.com and, from any page, click on the gold "College" bar.

Are you registered?

I have registered for the reunion

Do you plan to attend the 2023 reunion?

Yes, probably


Previously joined '68 or '69 website for 50th reunion

Tom's Latest Interactions

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Tom Thomas posted a message.
Mar 18, 2024 at 5:38 AM

Over on the Class of 1969 reunion website, John Field ’69 posted a link to a five-minute video about long-term prisoners who were later exonerated and released. It was produced by Rhiannon Giddens of the Class of 2000. John writes: “The 22 men in the video were collectively robbed of 500 years of their lives, and 22-year-old Kalief Browder was driven to suicide. The prison system is not "broken"; it's a perfectly oiled machine for corporate jail companies to make billions of $$, while kidnapping mostly Black and Brown people from society.” A number of John’s classmates added comments, including Oswald Greg Lewis (Artistically strong, sociologically painful), Kerry Friedman Rosen (Been following Rhiannon and her music for years - her former group the Chocolate Drops, her opera Omar, etc. Thanks for posting this), George Spencer-Green (I saw her in concert last night at the Beacon Theater in New York. Well worth watching if you have the opportunity), and Tom Clark (Just finished watching a "60 Minutes" segment in which victims and exonorees are brought together in healing sessions. This dovetails nicely into the emotions expressed in Rhiannon's powerful work, which takes valuing one's freedom to a whole new level. Thanks for posting, John, and vote in 2024.) The video is at
and Rhiannon is interviewed about it at

Tom Thomas posted a message. New comment added.
Nov 22, 2023 at 7:21 PM

Posted on: Nov 21, 2023 at 6:06 AM

Remember your first weeks on campus? When our reunion was in the planning stages, a group of us got together on an email thread to discuss how things should be done, and we also wandered off into tangents. Those included reminiscing about freshman Orientation, traditional songs, beanies, dining hall protocols, dating parlors, and women’s dorm restrictions. We were clueless then. But our viewpoints evolved, we questioned the patriarchal assumptions, and things changed. It all seems so long ago. Did it really happen? From that email thread, I’ve gathered comments from 15 of us. See < t2buck.com/happen.htm >.

Tom Thomas has left an In Memory comment for David Corwin.
Nov 09, 2023 at 6:44 AM

On the Class of 1968 Message Forum page, Paul Lawn left this comment:

Thank you, Thomas Ilgen for your memorial to David Corwin. As a sportswriter and sports editor of the Review, I always admired Dave's skills and exploits on the gridiron, despite his having always to play on undermanned teams. We re-connected when I brought my beloved Kaidog (a 69-kinds of dog who adopted me through a friend and was the smartest farm dog anyone could ever wish for) for his veterinary check-ups. David was the kindlest, gentlest, most empathic vet imaginable and was always up on progressive developments in his field that made things easier for Kai, particularly as Kaidog got older and battled hip dysplasia and lyme disease. Mortality comes way too soon for dogs, and too soon for the people who care for them. Thank you, Dave, for living a good life.

Nov 08, 2023 at 4:13 PM

On November 8, 2023, Robert Tuchmann '67 posted:
I’m pleased to share the news that Joel Rosenberg, my freshman year roommate, has been named the Utah Governor’s Mansion Artist Award recipient for 2023. Joel’s award for Performance Arts reads, “For his lifetime of virtuosity and service to the musicians and audiences of Utah.” The award will be made on November 29th at 7:30 pm in the Governor’s Mansion in Salt Lake City for those in the vicinity. Joel is the conductor of the American West Symphony and Chorus of Sandy, Utah and continues to play and record as a violist. You can reach him at maestro555@gmail.com and wish him a happy birthday at the same time. Rob

Tom Thomas posted a message. New comment added.
Nov 04, 2023 at 4:01 PM

Posted on: Oct 26, 2023 at 5:25 AM

There’s an account at < t2buck.com/frisept.htm > on my personal website describing what I did and whom I met at the Cluster Reunion a few weeks ago, including photos of the new (temporary) home of WOBC-FM.

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Oct 19, 2023 at 6:42 AM
Operating the Chyron graphics computer at a 1989 football telecast
Tom Thomas added a photo to profile gallery.
Oct 15, 2023 at 9:10 AM
Returning to my dorm room (a single in Noah Hall)
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Sep 13, 2023 at 10:53 AM
Tom Thomas has left an In Memory comment for Edward "Chip" Reardon.
Aug 19, 2023 at 12:03 PM

Chip was friendly and outgoing with a good sense of humor, so he had many friends among the other Conservatory students. During our first weeks at Oberlin in September 1965, I wrote home about dinnertime at Dascomb: "Eating at our table has been Chip Reardon, a blind organ student from Philadelphia. He must have a very good memory; he has to play either by ear or from memorizing embossed [Braille] scores. Also, he has to remember where all the various stops on the organ are. He seems to have the ability to do this, though, as he's done very well at remembering the names and voices of the people at our table." The following January I wrote, "He was telling a couple of weeks ago how his mother taped all the weekly Triple Chiller Theaters on the television this fall so he could listen to all those movies over Christmas vacation and get caught up." Later, sitting in the audience at Warner Concert Hall, I watched him taking notes. How did a blind student do that without modern electronic gadgets? With a slate and stylus to punch the Braille patterns.

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Jun 15, 2023 at 1:21 PM
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Jun 07, 2023 at 5:06 PM
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Apr 03, 2023 at 7:51 AM
Tom Thomas has left an In Memory comment for Mark Schomer.
Oct 16, 2022 at 5:37 AM

Mark and his sister Karine recorded a collection of folk and protest songs in 1965, to which I linked in this article.

Jul 26, 2022 at 5:46 PM
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Jul 23, 2022 at 10:13 PM
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Jul 23, 2022 at 9:49 PM

Posted on: Jul 23, 2022 at 9:49 PM

Favorite Cafe in Havana
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Jul 08, 2022 at 8:35 AM
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Apr 21, 2022 at 7:27 AM
First job out of grad school, 1970
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Posted: Apr 21, 2022 at 7:38 AM
50-year reunion, 2019
Posted: Oct 19, 2023 at 6:43 AM
Operating the Chyron graphics computer at a 1989 football telecast
Posted: Oct 15, 2023 at 9:10 AM
Returning to my dorm room (a single in Noah Hall)
Posted: Apr 21, 2022 at 7:36 AM
First job out of grad school, 1970
Posted: Jul 24, 2022 at 1:55 PM
In case you were wondering.