day gets started. Photograph by Butch Comegys
Meet ‘lucky dude’ Tim Furlong of NBC10. But you probably already know him.
His grandmother once asked NBC10 reporter Tim Furlong what he does to prepare to be on camera for 90 seconds or so most evenings. His reply: a lot, often before sunrise and after sunset. Furlong, the only Philadelphia TV reporter living and working in Delaware, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My job is super-cool,” he says. “Every day I live in fear it will end. Nothing lasts forever, and I’ve been doing it for 14 years. It is something different every day. I wouldn’t say I’m working all the time, but it’s not something I can turn off, even from Paris this summer on vacation. There’s that understanding in news— we want to be there when a big story happens. Channel 10 more so; we throw more boots on the ground.”
That commitment has taken Furlong to the White House several times, with the Phillies for the 2008 World Series, with the Eagles for the 2018 Super Bowl, and, of course, throughout Delaware, where he’s been reporting full time since the summer of 2013.
“People always ask what my favorite story is,” he says. “It’s when an average person does something extraordinary. Even better if [the story] helps.”
Example: World War II veteran Wes Wiggins, of Middletown. “His home burned down, and he lost everything,” says Furlong. “His community came through big-time for him. Wawa made sure he had plenty to eat, and Sen. [Chris] Coons’ office is still working to get duplicates of his war medals. The story really made me so happy, and I loved that I could help be a catalyst to get this hero the help he needs.”
Furlong, 45, is practically a Delaware native. He was born in West Chester, Pa., but his family moved to Wilmington when he was three months old. He met his wife. Meghan, then an Ursuline student, at a dance after a Salesianum football game. “We’re like a John Mellencamp song,” he says. “We’re best friends. We’re blessed.”
“As a kid, I knew I wanted to be on TV,” Furlong says. So, after graduating from Salesianum he made it happen by earning a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from American University in Washington, D.C. His career quickly progressed with stints in Washington, Charlottesville, Va., and Providence, R.I., before he returned to his home turf in 2002 to join WPHL. Three years later he moved to NBC10 (WCAU).
DELAWARE #xbox #drone #jeep #beagle
The Furlongs live in North Wilmington with their son Liam, 17, a student at Salesianum; daughter Bridget, 14, a student at Padua (where Meghan teaches Spanish), and their rescue beagle, Maggie.
His father’s career is “a driving force” behind Liam’s three years as editor-in-chief of the Salesianum Review. “I’m eager to finish this year off strong and hopefully launch new creative content for my fourth and final year as well,” Liam says. “Journalism is definitely a career option.”
On Twitter, Tim Furlong calls himself “Emmy-winning NBC10 philly DELAWARE reporter, sports fan, geek #xbox licensed #drone pilot, Married, dad, Delawarean #jeep and #beagle owner.”
Using all capital letters to spell out his home state indicates his priorities. “I’m a huge cheerleader for Delaware and the Brandywine Valley,” he says. “I love covering our area because I was born and raised here. I am raising my kids here. I know and love the people and the attitude.”
His worldview encompasses the “Delaware Way,” the ethos that although First Staters can disagree on issues, they should get along. “We should all share the Delaware Way,” he says. “We can be cordial.”
Since 2004, he has taught broadcast news writing and news production as an adjunct professor at Widener University in Chester, Pa. “I like to see my students’ success,” he says. “It gives me endless satisfaction. It also keeps me in tune with how younger people watch TV and content. And how we might never reach them.”
“One thing Tim always preached that sticks with me until this day is to be yourself and deliver the news like you’re talking to your mom or sister,” Rick Ritter, a student in several classes and now an Emmy Award-winning evening anchor for WJZ-TV, CBS Baltimore, writes in an email. “In this industry, it can take a while to find yourself on camera. Tim does it better than anyone. A conversational approach but with high energy that keeps you interested. … The same exact Tim that you watch on TV, is the same guy you’ll meet off camera. That’s what resonates with viewers.”
A JEEP WITH GEAR AND LUNCH
Furlong’s work is most often on NBC10’s early evening newscast, and he tries “to shoot something positive every day [such as] nonprofits doing something cool so it grabs the attention it deserves.” Example: Zip Code Wilmington, one of America’s first nonprofit coding schools, which “trains unemployed and underemployed people in the world of coding.”
Furlong pushes for coverage from Delaware, which represents nine percent of the Philadelphia TV market, he says, adding that the city of Philadelphia represents only 18 percent of the market, which sprawls east to the Jersey Shore and north to the Lehigh Valley. “We want to win everywhere,” he says.
Furlong’s official title is general assignment reporter for NBC10’s Delaware Bureau. There’s no physical office, unless you count his logo-covered Jeep (“a driving mascot,” he says), which is filled with equipment he needs to edit his video, broadcast live and have lunch (often a protein shake or yogurt, pulled out of his Eagles cooler) from it or in it.
He loves the control that all the technology gives him to craft his segments. “I want you to feel my minute-and-a-half is like a mini Netflix documentary,” he says.
“It’s never about me,” he says of his pieces, adding that he “gets skeeved by reporting that does the opposite.”
His equipment includes seven cameras (including a drone and two GoPros), a tackle box stuffed with whatever it takes to attach the camera to evocative spots (say, the wheel of a school bus, the saddle of a rider, the chest of an athlete), a 30-pound tripod, boots, coats for all sorts of weather, a jacket and dress shirt, branded keychains to give to schoolchildren and other people he meets and chemical hand warmers that he gifts to first responders at work in tough weather.
Workdays begin by 7:30 a.m., when he wants to transmit a half-dozen story ideas to producers in Philadelphia. “I pitch, and they pick,” he explains of what gets covered. He often starts at the Concord Pike Dunkin’, where he knows the names of the staff, and they know his regular order (medium coffee, a shot of skim milk and one Sweet ’N Low). His days end … well, considering the nature of news, there’s no consistency. But he ends the week with El Diablo Burritos “pretty much every Friday night.”
Furlong suggested the Trolley Square Brew HaHa for this Out & About interview, and even though he’s not a regular there, he ran into several familiar faces. It’s from such connections that he develops many of his stories. “I’m the eyes and ears of my neighbors,” he says.
A VIRAL TWEET
Many tipsters are virtual neighbors. He has almost 5,000 friends on Facebook, and that’s the social network’s limit. He hates to do so, but from time to time he has to cull to allow room for new friends.
He has 10,600 followers on Twitter (@tfurlong), where he has made more than 20,000 tweets (he also follows 2,140 accounts).
His following skyrocketed with a tweet about a White House event planned to celebrate the Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl victory (the back story’s complicated and political): “I’ve asked 6 of the ‘fans’ at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the super bowl. Not ONE person knew.”
The tweet went viral. “My phone was like a slot machine,” Furlong recalls.
On his YouTube channel (“Tv news guy in Philly who loves what he does enough at work to do it for fun at home too. Drones, tech toys, Jeeps, travel, family. All good stuff.”) he has posted dozens of slickly edited and sound-tracked videos, primarily of family. The latest showed the Furlong Christmas, including a joyous scene where “they’re dancing because I told them to. YouTube is like a storage chest of life souvenirs for my kids. They have a place to go to see how much fun they have had.”
His bio on Instagram (@timfurlong2,1,949 posts and 3,841 followers) ends simply: “lucky dude.”
He makes a point of texting the family when he’s going to be on air live or when his segments are scheduled, so they can watch him together. The experience, Liam says repeatedly, is exciting, as is seeing his father recognized when out in public. Yet “on camera, at home, out and about, he’s extremely down to earth,” Liam says, “and I’m proud of that.”
Whatever the platform, “it’s always the real me, a normal guy,” Tim says, far removed from the clichés of bloviated or befuddled TV anchors in films and sitcoms. “They’re way too goofy or way too dark and serious. Day to day, we’re just normal people trying to do their job: telling a fair story.”
Writes Ritter: “Sounds cliché, but Tim is just a kind, compassionate human being. Believe it or not, that’s hard to find these days. Anyone will tell you there’s people who get in this industry to be on TV & there’s people who get in this industry to make a difference/impact the lives of others. All Tim cares about is making a difference & telling good stories. I think that’s evident with his work, history in this business & the way he’s perceived in Delaware. Let’s be real: he is Mr. Delaware.”