George Thomas

Born in Millville, NJ, in 1918, Broadcast Pioneers member George Thomas, started at WCAU Radio in June of 1937. He was an announcer who spent nearly 50 years behind the mike in radio and television for the WCAU stations. Thomas joined the company when he was just 19, a year after graduating from Upper Darby High School in Delaware County. He played every role, from hosting dance band shows and music broadcasts to doing commercials and station breaks.

At that time, WCAU needed a music specialist to host shows by the WCAU house band. His duties also included the announcing on the remote broadcasts of touring dance bands performing in the Delaware Valley. During this era, many stations had no or small record libraries of their own. They depended on the remote broadcasts of the dance bands for much of their broadcasting. George Thomas loved the music of the big bands. Later on, he had a collection of more than 10,000 long-playing records that was well indexed. He was reported to have being able to find 64 versions of the same song within minutes.

His son Michael Thomas said, "They were indexed by title, number and artist, and he had a couple of other secret ways of getting to them, because he used them in his shows. He used to practice his voice by reading the newspaper out loud from cover to cover."

While still in school, and wanting to be a radio announcer, he had honed his vocal skills by introducing swing bands as he played their records at his parents' home in Drexel Hill.

Broadcast Pioneers member and fellow WCAU announcer & Broadcast Pioneers member Gene Crane recalled that George started doing other things at the station about 1946, when he became the voice of Horn & Hardart, the restaurant chain and bakery and sponsor of "The Children's Hour" broadcast hosted by station PD (Program Director) Stan Lee Broza, the first president of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia.

In the early days of television, he was the announcer on variety and game programs, and in the early sixties, he was a disc jockey, on "The George Thomas Show," which aired Saturdays and Sundays on WCAU Radio.

From the mid-seventies until his retirement in 1985, he was one of the anonymous but easily recognized staff announcers on Channel 10, WCAU-TV. He would sit in the announce booth for five hours or more at a time to deliver and record as many as 40 station breaks, show announcements, and advertisements.

He spent most of his adult life in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia and from 1992 to 1995, he resided in Upper Gwynedd.

From 1985 to 1995, Thomas hosted luncheons at the Cedarbrook Country Club in Blue Bell (where he was a member and member of their board) for WCAU retirees. A couple dozen people always showed up.

He liked to build model airplanes and played bridge. In his younger years, he also enjoyed water skiing.

He was married to Phyllis Capobianco Thomas and they had two children, Michael and Elaine. He passed away on the day after Christmas, 1995.

On Friday, November 20, 2009, George Thomas was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame."

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Written and resarched by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Roger Hendler
© 2009, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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