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KPBS Legend Gloria Penner Dies

Trailblazing Journalist Paved the Way for Women and Created KPBS’ Signature Political Coverage

KPBS Contact

Contact: Nancy Worlie

(619) 594-1746 | email

Gloria Penner, KPBS Senior Political Correspondent and host of Editors' Roundtable, was inducted in 2011 into the KPBS Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Above: Gloria Penner, KPBS Senior Political Correspondent and host of Editors' Roundtable, was inducted in 2011 into the KPBS Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

— Legendary journalist and longtime KPBS personality Gloria Penner passed away today after a two-year battle with cancer. Penner, KPBS’ Senior Political Correspondent, held many different positions during her 43 year career at the public media organization. She was best known as a tough journalist unafraid of tackling and helping the audience make sense of the difficult issues – namely politics and elections. Her passion for news and important local issues was evident when she was hosting on TV and radio. She could be heard hosting the Roundtable on KPBS Midday Edition through July 2012.

“KPBS would not be the same today if it wasn’t for the contributions of Gloria Penner,” said Tom Karlo, KPBS general manager. “Gloria was among the first staff during the formative years of KPBS. She has been an integral part of KPBS’ growth and change through the decades. We will miss her dearly.”

Gloria Penner joined KPBS on December 1, 1969 as Director of Community Relations. At the time of her hire, the radio station was known as KEBS. The TV station, KPBS, was only two years old having formed in 1967. Gloria came to KPBS having previously worked in broadcast journalism in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

During her 43 years at KPBS, Gloria wore several hats, demonstrating her ability to adapt to the changing needs of the station and advances in technology. She worked as Writer/Editor for KPBS’ On-Air Magazine, but also had stints as a writer, producer, host, political correspondent, public affairs director and blogger. She headed up KPBS TV’s program production unit and hosted KPBS Radio’s These Days (now KPBS Midday Edition) from 1995 until 1999. Best known for her election coverage, she moderated scores of town hall meetings, debates and forums for KPBS Radio and TV as well as the League of Women Voters. She hosted the Friday Editors Roundtable on KPBS 89.5 FM for nearly 14 years.

“Gloria was a true trailblazer at KPBS and in local news,” said Karlo. “She led the way for women in journalism and set the standard for political reporting and election coverage – in depth thoughtful analysis – that remains a priority for KPBS today.”

Gloria was one of the most celebrated and honored journalists at KPBS. She earned seven Emmys, five Golden Mikes, two Gracies, the Harold Keen Award from the San Diego Press Club, the John Swett Award from the California Teachers Association, and the Living Legacy Award from Women’s International Center. Gloria also received numerous awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego Bar Association. In 2003, the San Diego Chapter of the League of Women Voters created the Gloria Penner Award for Civic Service; Gloria was the first recipient.

Gloria was also active in her community, volunteering and supporting many charitable and civic organizations including the San Diego County Commission on Children and Youth, the Center for Ethics in Science and Technology, Jewish Family Services, Seacrest Village Retirement Community, Jewish Community Foundation San Diego, and many others.

Related Information

Gloria Penner received the 2011 KPBS Hall of Fame - Lifetime Achievement Award

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Gloria earned her bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and did graduate work in English at New York University. She earned her master’s degree in English from Syracuse University. Penner is survived by her husband Bill Snyder of La Jolla; two sons, Brad Penner of San Diego and Steve Penner of Tucson, Arizona. She has two grandchildren, Elijah and Alexandra.

A public celebration of Gloria’s life and achievements will be held at a later date.

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio, and Internet content that educates, inspires, entertains, and advances civic involvement.

Comments

Avatar for user 'billritter'

billritter | October 11, 2012 at 3:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

I started in television news because of Gloria Penner. She invited me to appear on her San Diego Week In Review way back when, and I guess she liked how I did, because she regularly invited me back. And then she invited me to moderate some debates for state elected.

Gloria had to recuse herself from those forums because KPBS received state funding, and she felt it would be a conflict of interest for her to moderate debates with folks who controlled her employer's funding.

I guess I did all right on those debates as well, because someone saw me and said something to somebody, and the next thing I know KNSD TV is offering me a job. I leave the L.A. Times, and start down a different career path. That was 25 years ago.
It was always fun running into Gloria after that, because she knew that if I hadn't subbed for her during those debates, I might well have remained an ink-stained wretch. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

I think of Gloria every time I moderate a debate - and I've done many at WABC TV in New York, where I now work.

I never told Gloria this - and, dang, now how I wish I had - but I learned so much from working with her and watching her ply her talent and her skills. She asked questions that were important, paying no attention to the sacred cows that grazed everywhere in San Diego, and she always kept the viewers' interests on the front-burner. I know viewers in San Diego miss her, and I know the staff misses her. This reporter, now on the other coast, misses her as well.
BILL RITTER

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 11, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. ― 1 year, 10 months ago

I miss her already.

She embodies everything good journalism aspires to be.

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