Tim Furlong is in your living room most nights of the week, reporting on the various local issues for NBC10 in Philadelphia. He’s a local celebrity around the Delaware Valley, particularly known for his work for the station in Delaware.
But what the north Wilmington resident wants you to know is that, at heart, he’s just like everyone else. He’s a husband, father and neighbor, and a strong believer in Catholic education.
Furlong, 42, graduated from St. Thomas the Apostle School in Glen Mills, Pa., and Salesianum School in 1992. His wife, Meghan, attended St. Mary Magdalen and Ursuline Academy and is in her third year teaching at Padua Academy. Son Liam is an eighth-grader at St. Edmond’s Academy, and daughter Bridget is in sixth grade at St. Thomas the Apostle, where the family usually attends Mass and where she will be confirmed later this month.
“We’re just big believers in Catholic education and always have been,” Furlong said last week at one of his favorite stops, Dunkin’ Donuts on Concord Pike. “It’s a sacrifice for parents to get their kids to go to Catholic school. There are things that you’re not spending that money on. But it pays off. It’s an investment in the most important thing you can invest in, which is your children. We’re hoping to give them a good start.”
Catholic education has been part of the Furlong family experience for a long time. Before his family moved to Glen Mills when he was a child, Furlong spent three years at St. Ann School in Wilmington. He recalled that longtime teacher Sheila O’Callaghan taught him to multiply.
“A few years ago I got to go back and do a story on her when the kids gave her a trip to Ireland. She’s one of my all-time favorites,” he said.
Furlong has been working in his home television market since 2002, but before that he experienced what many in the media do: moving from town to town on their way up the ladder. His first job out of college was at NBC News in Washington, D.C., where he was able to work with the late Tim Russert, who had a great influence on him.
“You talk about a good Catholic guy, a Buffalo Catholic guy,” Furlong remembered. “That guy, God rest his soul, was just a great human being, and he taught me a lot about treating others in the news world how you want to be treated, and about fairness in reporting.”
Stops in Charlottesville, Va., and Providence, R.I., followed. While working in Providence, Furlong covered the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl win in 2002 in New Orleans, Tom Brady’s first as the team’s starting quarterback. He and Meghan lived in Foxboro, Mass., the Patriots’ home, and on game days they could open their windows and hear the roar of the crowd, then see the play on television seconds later.
The most memorable moment in Foxboro, however, was when his son was born. Furlong carried Liam into his apartment, and before he could even put him down, the phone rang.
“It was my agent saying, “Hey, I think I’ve got something for you in Philly. You want it? I said, ‘You’re darn right I do.’ Because that’s home. To be able to tell my mom and dad that we were coming back home was really awesome – with their grandson,” he said.
First at Channel 17 and, since 2005, at NBC10, Furlong has been a staple on the screens of the Delaware Valley. He had a chance to host a food and travel show for a while, and now, as he puts it, he gets to tell stories and make a decent living doing it.
Some of the stories are light-hearted and fun, while others, such as the recent standoff at the Vaughn Correctional Center, are difficult. Those are situations where his Catholic school background comes through, he said, in how he treats other people and empathizes with them.
“If it sacrifices my objectivity to give a mother a hug after she just lost her child, then I don’t think I can be objective. You can’t sacrifice your own humanity to do any job,” he said.
He also has been able to increase NBC10’s footprint in Delaware, a part of the Philadelphia television news market that Furlong said has long been underserved. He and his News Force Jeep – basically a mobile studio and production facility – can be seen not only in New Castle County, but downstate as well.
He’s lobbied for more Delaware stories, and the increased exposure has benefited the station, he said. As people have come to expect NBC10 to be on the scene, Furlong has received more tips and story ideas.
Of course, being on television most days means people will recognize you, and sometimes that is at a restaurant or while watching a Salesianum basketball game. His family understands and accommodates the friendly interruptions.
“It means I can keep paying for Catholic education, hopefully. It means people are watching Channel 10. It’s loyalty to me, to some degree, because they know I’m loyal to them, but also loyalty to the station. It’s great,” he said.
When he’s not working, Furlong likes to spend time with his family. They love Delaware’s state parks and beaches. He also plays guitar and likes to play Xbox hockey, sometimes against his brother in West Virginia.
“People say to me all the time, ‘You seem like such a normal guy.’ I don’t know what to say to them. I’m your neighbor, man.
“My number one job is dad and husband. The career I have is great, and I love it, but ultimately I think most of us would say that our family is job one. I like the normal stuff.”