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KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo Announces His Retirement

San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre announced today that KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo will retire after a 47-year career at the public media station. He will retire at the end of the year.

Tom Karlo has worked at KPBS since 1973 when he began as a student while attending SDSU.

Tom worked his way up through the organization, first as a cameraman and eventually learning all facets of the business, including TV production, operations, program distribution and finance. With each new role Tom gained management experience and more responsibility. He was named General Manager in 2009, making him only the fifth general manager in KPBS’ 60 year history.

“Tom’s passion for KPBS and for SDSU are apparent to anyone who meets him and he has invested decades to elevate KPBS as an important community-focused ambassador for public media in the San Diego region,” de la Torre said. “As a former writer and journalist myself, I applaud Tom for his years of service to meaningful storytelling and to ethical journalism.”

During Tom’s tenure as general manager, KPBS ushered in a new era of multiplatform content and solidified the organization’s reputation for trusted, award-winning news across all platforms. Since 2009, KPBS has added a weekday television newscast, and digital news on KPBS.org and social media, in addition to an existing and well established radio news team. KPBS now has content on more than 30 platforms, including four television channels, 89.5 FM, KPBS.org, and social media.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to spend my entire career at KPBS and SDSU,” said Karlo. “I feel I have made a difference at KPBS and KPBS has made a difference in the community. I am so proud of that.”

In his nearly 12 years as general manager of KPBS, the organization has grown to 180 full and part time staff; the news team started at 15 people and is now close to 50. The audience has grown to more than 1.3 million each week; and operating revenue has nearly doubled. The KPBS Producers Club has also grown from 600 families and $700,000 a year to 1,900 families and nearly $2.8 million annually.

Tom has been a fundraising powerhouse, raising nearly $70 million for KPBS’ Building on Trust Capital Campaign in three short years. The campaign funds a much-needed expansion and remodel of KPBS' building. Construction will begin before Tom retires at the end of the year.

Tom also solidified KPBS’ role as an industry leader within public media nationwide. KPBS was one of the few stations to embrace convergence of platforms when digital media was in its infancy. KPBS remains one of the top stations in the country.

Tom has served on national boards including the PBS Board of Directors, Public Television Major Market Group, and the California Public Television Board of Directors.

In addition to his dedication to KPBS, Tom has given back to the San Diego community through various organizations and nonprofits including the SDSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and Sharp Grossmont Hospital Board of Directors.

Tom and his wife Julie have three children and four grandchildren and look forward to spending time with family in San Diego and Lake Tahoe.

SDSU President de la Torre has appointed Nancy Worlie, Associate General Manager Content and Communications, as Interim General Manager effective January 1, 2021. Worlie has been at KPBS for 17 years, recently overseeing news, programming, communications and human resources.

KPBS Media Contacts

Heather Milne Barger, hmilne@kpbs.org

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Aired: October 6, 2020 | Transcript

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