Photo grad goes from print pages to radio waves

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Matt Wingfield

Thomas Temin ’77 is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs weekday mornings in the Washington, D.C., area.

Thomas Temin was a little surprised when he got a call from a radio station in Washington, D.C., asking him if he was interested in becoming an anchor on the morning show.

“I said I have never been in a radio booth,” remembers Temin ’77 (photography).

But Federal News Radio was looking for someone who understood the market, and after 30 years as a journalist, Temin had become an expert on the federal government.

Temin has been a host of The Federal Drive, which airs weekdays from 6 to 9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C., area, for eight years. He chats with members of Congress, cabinet secretaries and government experts during the news and talk program, which focuses on the federal government and those who do business with the government. He also writes a weekly column.

“I have always been able to find something, see something, discover something and tell people about it in a compelling way,” Temin said. “That spans photography, it spans print publishing, blog writing and broadcasting.”

Temin’s career path to radio started in print. The editor-in-chief of RIT’s Reporter magazine began at a small weekly newspaper in New Hampshire, working as a photographer, reporter and sports editor. He did that for 18 months before returning home to the Boston area to work at a daily newspaper. But workers at the publication went on strike, and after two weeks of picketing, Temin decided to go in a different direction.

He joined a prominent Boston company called Cahners Publishing Co. and worked there for 17 years editing industrial and high technology publications. At the age of 30, he became the youngest editor-in-chief at the company, which published more than 100 magazines.

Cahners transferred him to Washington, D.C., where it had a large trade publication called Government Computer News. He became the top editor. The publication was sold to the Washington Post Co., which formed PostNewsweek Tech Media. Temin worked his way up to executive vice president and oversaw five magazines focused on the public sector market and the contractors who serve the federal government.

But eventually the Washington Post Co. sold the magazines and Temin turned to consulting. That’s when Federal News Radio called.

Temin conquered a steep learning curve, including learning the importance of preparation. He reads up to 10 publications a day to get ready for the next show. That way he has enough material to cover if a guest gets disconnected or is boring.

He is also careful to use the correct terminology. If he mispronounces a name or calls a sailor a soldier, for example, he will lose credibility.

“You prepare for the unexpected by being prepared,” he said.

In many ways, that sums up Temin’s career, whose work in publishing prepared him to be an anchor.

“It’s really fun,” he said. “I just turned 60 and I love the work. I’m not ready to slow down yet.”