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Dear SDSU Community,

After a 47-year career with KPBS, the San Diego State University public media-affiliated news agency, General Manager Tom Karlo announced he will retire at the end of this year.

Tom’s passion for KPBS and for SDSU are apparent to anyone who meets him. He has invested decades to elevate KPBS as an important community-focused ambassador for public media in the San Diego region. I applaud Tom for his years of service to meaningful storytelling and to ethical journalism. On behalf of the SDSU community, we want to wish Tom the best in his new life journey and we are thankful for his years of dedication to KPBS and San Diego State University.

Tom began working with KPBS, which maintains strict editorial independence from SDSU, as a cameraman in 1973 while studying at SDSU. Over the decades with the organization, he worked in television production, operations, program distribution and also in finance and, in 2009, was named general manager.

Only four others have held the role of general manager in the 60 year history of KPBS. Under Tom’s leadership, KPBS has evolved through a new era of multiplatform content and holds a solid place as an industry leader within public media nationwide.

It is through Tom’s leadership that the agency has a reputation for trusted award-winning news across all platforms, to include television and radio. During this tenure, and since 2009, the new agency added a weekday television newscast, digital news on KPBS.org and social media platforms. Today, KPBS has content on more than 30 platforms, including four television channels, 89.5FM, KPBS.org, more than six local podcasts and social media. Importantly, KPBS was one of the few stations to embrace convergence of platforms as digital media was in its infancy.

KPBS also launched the Explore San Diego local content initiative that brought audience favorites, such as Ken Kramer’s About San Diego, A Growing Passion, Crossing South and Savor San Diego. In addition, community engagement events like the GI Film Festival, Community Conversations and the One Book One San Diego project continue to pave the way for thoughtful, engaging and civil conversations.

In Tom’s nearly 12 years as general manager, KPBS has grown to 180 full and part time staff; the news team began with 15 people and is now close to 50. The audience has grown to more than 1.3 million each week. Operating revenue has nearly doubled in that time as well.

Tom is a fundraising powerhouse, raising nearly $70 million for KPBS’ Building on Trust Capital Campaign in just 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. In addition, the KPBS Producers Club has also grown from 600 families and $700 thousand a year to 1900 families and nearly $2.8 million annually during Tom's tenure as General Manager.

Associate General Manager for Content and Communications Nancy Worlie has been appointed to serve as interim general manager beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Nancy, who graduated from SDSU in 1995, has been with KPBS for 17 years and will continue to lead KPBS through its digital expansion. She and her team will also work closely with SDSU in overseeing the construction and remodel of the KPBS facility.

Please join me in thanking Tom for his many and significant contributions over his career, and congratulating Nancy for her appointment.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

 
 
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