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Broadcasters Foundation President Jim Thompson Dies, 75

Jim Thompson of BFOA
(Image credit: Broadcasters Foundation of America)

The Broadcasters Foundation of America shares said that its longtime president and broadcaster Jim Thompson died at age 75 on August 14, after battling against throat cancer for nearly a year. His family asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The Jim Thompson Memorial Fund, established by the Broadcasters Foundation in honor of Thompson’s dedication and service to the broadcasting industry and to the foundation’s charitable cause of providing financial aid to radio and TV professionals in acute need.

“I am very proud to have known Jim for nearly 40 years as a colleague and a friend,” Scott Herman, chairman of the Broadcasters Foundation, said. “Jim believed deeply in helping others and his passion and enthusiasm for life always lit up a room. Broadcasting has lost a great man, who always saw the positive in every person and every situation. He will be sorely missed.”

Thompson took over the reins of the Broadcasters Foundation in 2009, guiding the charitable organization to more than quadruple the amount of financial aid it distributes to radio and TV professionals from $400,000 to nearly $2 million last year, the foundation said.

“When the board of directors was searching for a president, Jim’s reputation as a leader combined with his compassion for others and his ability to rally people together made him the perfect choice,” Phil Lombardo, chairman emeritus of the Broadcasters Foundation, said. “His accomplishments over the past 13 years helped the many TV and Radio professionals who found themselves in unthinkable circumstances and in need of aid. Our sincere sympathies go out to his family.”

Thompson had planned to retire from the foundation at the end of this year. 

The National Association of Broadcasters president and CEO Curtis LeGeyt said: "Jim Thompson’s illustrious career in broadcasting and legacy of service to the industry had a resounding impact. His boundless generosity and passionate leadership of the Broadcasters Foundation helped countless broadcasters overcome adversity and persevere in their darkest moments. NAB extends our deepest condolences to Jim’s family and all whose lives he touched."

Thompson had been president and CEO of Group W Radio, the second largest radio company in the country during his leadership, and along with Mike Craven he was co-owner of Liberty Broadcasting, a 19-station radio group concentrated on the East Coast. He began his broadcasting career as an account executive at KYW-TV, Philadelphia in 1971, where he rose to vice president and general manager, the BFOA said.

Thompson also created the Radio-Mercury Awards to encourage and reward excellence in radio creative, BFOA said He served on the boards of the Radio Advertising Bureau and the Advertising Council, was vice chairman of the Pennsylvania State Broadcasters Association and a member of numerous committees, including the NAB Radio Futures Committee. Thompson served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army, BFOA said.

Bill McGorry is chairman of the Broadcasting+Cable Hall of Fame, which helps support the BFOA, and a longtime friend of Thompson's. "During my tenure as Chairman of the B&C Hall of Fame, Jim Thompson arrived 13 years ago and we shared a great journey," McGorry said. "His tireless commitment to the Broadcasters Foundation enabled extraordinary growth to the benefit of those who needed it most. And I personally will miss his friendship and support. A truly goodfella!" 

Thompson is survived by his wife Cindy; his five children, Meghan Cima, Shannon Gardiner and her husband James, Katie McElwee and her husband Tommy, James Thompson and his wife Madison, Molly Thompson; seven grandchildren and his brothers John and Thomas.  

To make a donation to the Jim Thompson Memorial Fund, please click here: https://bfoa.app.neoncrm.com/forms/jimthompsonfund.

The Broadcasters Foundation of America provides financial aid to broadcasters who have lost their livelihood through a catastrophic event, debilitating disease, or unforeseen tragedy. Personal donations can be made to the foundation’s Guardian Fund. Corporate contributions are accepted through the Angel Initiative, and bequests can be made through the Foundation’s Legacy Society. For more information, please visit www.broadcastersfoundation.org, call 212-373-8250, or email info@thebfoa.org. ■

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.