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Three generations now at Thomas Media

Thomas Media is a division of a national radio organization that serves West Tennessee with some of the largest brands in the local market including WYN 106.9, Star 107 and 102.3 The Rocket.

And for the past few months, it’s had three generations of the family working together under one roof on Main Street in Downtown Jackson.

Bill Thomas started the company a little more than two decades ago after he’d had a hand in selling for and directing radio stations in Memphis, Texas and Alabama before returning home to Jackson.

“My father was a farmer, and we lived in Bemis until I was about 12 years old,” Bill Thomas said. “I remember coming to Jackson with Woolworth’s and all these stores thinking I was in New York City.”

Bill’s father moved the family to Memphis, where Bill would grow up and eventually get started in radio.

Bill’s son, Chip, also got into radio sales and was doing well in Memphis. Then Bill called him and recruited him to Jackson.

“Life was good in Memphis, and dad called me and talked to me about helping him out with what he was starting here,” Chip said. “And I had to think hard about it because this was an unsure opportunity, and even if it had been a good thing, I really had to consider if working with my dad would be a good thing or no.”

Chip eventually said yes to his father and made the move up Interstate 40 to Jackson as the general manager of sales for Thomas Media.

Chip and his wife, Fran, had two young sons and would have a third soon after moving to Jackson.

But Chip was glad he made the move.

“Jackson is a great town,” Chip said. “It’s a great place to work, and it’s been a good place to raise three boys.”

Chip and Bill are actually in their second stint working together. Bill retired a few years after recruiting Chip to Thomas Media, but that retirement didn’t last long.

“It took me a few months to realize retirement wasn’t for me, so I got back into the game, but not here,” Bill said.

He took over a radio station in Covington, but then 2008 happened.

“I had great plans for that station, but every plan I had for that station got severely altered when the economy did what it did in 2008,” Bill said.

Bill eventually canceled those plans, and Chip helped him come up with more plans when he asked him about coming back to the organization that shares their last name.

“I brought him here to work for me, and then he brought me back to work for him,” Bill said. “And I’ve loved both situations.

“I knew Chip would thrive when I tried to bring him here, and he has. He’s a great leader, great salesman, great teacher of other salespeople.”

History repeated itself earlier this year. Just like in 2000 when Bill called Chip, Chip called his own son, Tyler.

Tyler is a Union graduate who moved to Memphis soon after graduation a couple years ago to work with his brother, Clay, selling for a radio station in Memphis.

Earlier this year, Tyler felt like it was time for him to make a change. In talking with his father, Chip, for some advice, Chip had an idea that probably sounded familiar to him.

“Just like 20 years ago when dad called me and I had to think about if I could work with my son or not,” Chip said. “So I had that thought before I brought it up to him, and I still had that thought afterward, because he needed to consider it too.”

Tyler said he was intrigued by the thought.

“I felt like it was time for me to make a change, but I wasn’t sure what I would do next,” Tyler said. “And dad asked me about coming back to Jackson, and I gave it some thought.”

Tyler felt like he knew enough people in Jackson to have a good base to start with and then the opportunity to learn even more about the business from his dad and granddad was something to consider.

“I wondered what the dynamic between the three of us would be, but it’s been great,” Tyler said.

So all three generations of the Thomas family have made their way back to Jackson, making connections in the community and bringing different forms of entertainment to those listening on radios throughout the Hub City and West Tennessee.

“We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do, and we plan to keep on doing it as a family,” Chip said. “And not just the three of us. A lot of our employees have been here 10, 15 or even more than 20 years.

“They’re like family too. And there’s not much better than going to work every day and doing it with people you would trust with your life.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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