Born in Greenville, Illinois, Merritt's father worked on the Coffee-Mate project as a food scientist. Merritt received a BS in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and pursued graduate work in communications at the University of Texas at Austin.
Tom's foray into the world of radio began in 1986 as a DJ for WGEL, a country music station located in Greenville, Illinois. In 1993, Merritt worked as an intern for National Public Radio's "Morning Edition". From 1999 to 2004 Merritt worked for TechTV in San Francisco as an Executive Web Producer and served as a radio host with TechTV until 2003.
Merritt started with CNET in 2004. In addition to his duties as co-host of Buzz Out Loud with Molly Wood, Merritt also had a regular column & podcast (co-hosted with Rafe Needleman) dealing with consumer technology. He also co-hosted the tech support call-in program CNET Live with fellow editor Brian Cooley, and was the host of CNET Top 5.
On April 16, 2010, Tom announced he would be stepping down as co-host of Buzz Out Loud, and that he would be joining the TWiT.tv Network as a full-time daily host beginning June 1, 2010.During his last Buzz Out Loud episode on May 14, 2010 Tom announced that his main focus at TWiT.tv would be a new daily show, Tech News Today.
Prior to joining TWiT as an employee, Merritt had a long standing working relationship with former TechTV colleague Leo Laporte's network having regularly appeared on ThisWeekInTech as either a guest or as a relief host. His general discussion podcast with Roger Chang, East Meets West, also featured on TWiT Live.
Tech News Today launched on 1 June 2010. Unlike Buzz Out Loud, Merritt is the truly regular host with ABC's Becky Worley and former Revision3 host Sarah Lane alternating as co-host on most episodes.
Upon joining TWiT.tv, Merritt brought with him two shows previously produced by cartoonist Scott Johnson's Frogpants Studios. Originally started on July 7, 2009, "Fourcast" features Merritt and Johnson inviting various guests to discuss the future and what it might contain in a so-called virtual fireside setting. Meanwhile "Current Geek Weekly" is a weekly discussion of geek culuture stories and the companion podcast to the Current Geek podcasts still produced by Frogpants Studios.
On 10 November 2010, Merrit officially launched his second new show on TWiT, FrameRate. Focusing on video in its many and varied forms (TV, Film, Internet), Merritt co-hosts the show with magician and NSFW podcast host Brian Brushwood.
On 20 January 2011, TWiT officially launched "Triangulation", a new show with Merritt co-hosting with Leo Laporte and interviewing a notable figure in technology.
In addition to these regular shows, Merritt has hosted live breaking news coverage of major technology events on TWiT Live and later released as "TWiT Specials" podcasts. He has acted as a relief host for Laporte on TWiT, Windows Weekly, Security Now and other shows when Laporte has been unavailable.
Since 4 February 2008, Merrit has hosted Sword & Laser, a sci-fi based book club podcast, co-hosted with his former CNet colleague, Veronica Belmont.
On June 22, 2010, Tom launched a new show for Revision3, entitled Tom's Top 5. The show counts down a new Top 5 list every week, and is released every Tuesday. He did a similar show on CNET called Top 5 which Brian Cooley now hosts.
Merritt has written a sci-fi novel, Boiling Point, which describes a near future United States civil war. He later narrated it as an audiobook.
In 2006 he wrote another novel, United Moon Colonies, of which he posted chapters on his blog. Both novels were published on Lulu.com with a Creative Commons license.
Merritt is married to Eileen Rivera and they live in Marin County, California, with their dogs Jango and Sawyer, having formerly lived in Oakland, Rivera now works alongside her husband as a producer at TWiT.tv.