Ray Thompson

Ray Thompson, a journalist, was a pioneer of TV news in Arizona. He was the first anchorman at KTVK, Channel 3, and the first news director/anchorman at KTAR, now KPNX, Channel 12, both of Phoenix. Later, Ray was promoted to vice president of news at Channel 12.


A member of the Arizona Broadcaster’s Association Hall of Fame, he was awarded six Emmys for achievement in news and documentaries while at KPNX, Channel 12. He was a member of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences Silver and Gold Circle clubs in recognition of 50 years’ contribution to the development of TV news.


A founder and charter member of the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, Ray served a term as a president. He also served as a founding member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He was awarded the Arizona Press Club Distinguished Service Award in 1981.


Ray authored two books, And Finally, dealing with his broadcast recollections and humorous stories used at the end of his newscasts, and Cactus Corners, Arizona, a humorous journey through a fictional Arizona town as a young radio newsman, in which he relates his experiences with colorful townsfolk and fellow broadcasters.


He served several years as a member of the editorial advisory board of Phoenix Magazine and was a contributor of articles to that magazine.


In 1976, he served on the seven-member City of Phoenix Bicentennial Committee. Later, he served as a member of the Board of Friends of Arizona State University Libraries.


Ray started his career in Minnesota as a newspaper reporter. His first job was for a chain of weekly papers. After serving in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, Ray sought a job in radio. Ray discovered the only opening was in engineering so he took a correspondence course and gained a first class broadcast engineer’s license.


He then found employment at KROC in Rochester as an engineer. Before long, the station, recognizing his journalistic ability, named him KROC’s sportscaster and later news director. When KROC-TV went on the air in 1963, he became news director and anchorman.


He also served as a stringer correspondent for the United Press and Newsweek magazine, and served as a president of the Northwest Radio News Association, a seven state organization with headquarters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


After retirement from TV, Ray served as executive producer of Samcor Video, a unit of the then Good Samaritan Hospital Association. He also did freelance work as a writer-producer of monthly videos for Arizona Bank, Security Pacific and First Interstate Bank.


In 1986, he produced a video magazine for Arizona Bank that was awarded Best National Corporate Video in Public Relations Society of America competition. During the same time period, he broadcast a daily program This Day in Arizona History on KTAR radio.


He was born in Albert Lea, Minn., on Nov. 1, 1921, to Harald and Bertha Thompson. He is survived by Phebe, his wife of 60 years, and five children: Dr. Joel Thompson, Diane Braddy, Randolph Thompson, Melody Sadler and Michele Meyer.

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