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Tom Karlo

General Manager

Photo of Tom Karlo

Tom Karlo is general manager of KPBS, the public media stations serving San Diego and Imperial Counties. Karlo began his career at KPBS in 1973 as a part time assistant while studying television and film at San Diego State University. He has held numerous positions including assistant cameraman, director, producer, associate general manager of operations and production, and associate general manager of business, finance and operations. He won three local Emmys prior to his transition into management. Karlo was named general manager in 2009.

Under his leadership, the station merged the TV, radio, and digital departments into one content producing center, focused on journalism and local content. The station created "KPBS Evening Edition" on TV, shifted KPBS’ online content to focus on news, invested in local producers for new regional programming, and expanded the radio schedule to feature news and information 24 hours a day.

The results have been impressive, with staff, audience and fundraising growth over the last nine years. KPBS is the highest rated public television station in the nation. More than 1.2 million people watch, listen, click or stream KPBS’ content every week, with a 24% annual growth in the past year. The news room has grown from 17 people in 2009 to 45 today.

KPBS has won 419 awards under Tom’s leadership. Most notably, the station won the 2015 USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism for the station’s coverage of the scandal surrounding former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. This was the second time in five years the station was honored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Additional honors were awarded by the National Press Foundation, RTNA Golden Mike Awards, PEN America, Radio Television Digital News Association, Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards, San Diego Society of Professional Journalists and San Diego Press Club.

Karlo is very community driven in his role as general manager. He spends much of his time representing KPBS in the community and deepening relationships with new and current donors and corporate partners. In August 2016, Tom was honored by PBS as the Development Professional of the Year.

Outside of KPBS, Tom has spent many of his fall weekends for the last 41 years as a cameraman for NFL Films. The 2017 season was Tom’s last working for NFL Films. He has filmed 15 Super Bowls and received a National Emmy for Sports Cinematography for HBO’s "Inside the NFL".

Tom and his wife Julie have been married for 44 years and live in La Mesa, CA. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Tom serves on the following organizations:
Sharp Health Care - Board of Directors
San Diego History Center - Advisory Council

Tom has served on the following boards:
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
Public Television Major Market Group
California Public Television (CPT)
Sharp Grossmont Hospital
Pacific Southwest MS Society
SDSU Alumni Association

Recent Stories by Tom Karlo

Public Media Deserves Federal Support

Feb. 28, 2011
By Tom Karlo

With funding for public broadcasting under siege, KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo makes the case for support. He can't do it alone, so read more to learn how you can help.

View all stories by Tom Karlo ›