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In Memoriam: Gloria Penner

The trailblazing journalist paved the way for women and created signature political coverage for KPBS.
Gloria Penner
Gloria Penner

Legendary journalist and longtime KPBS personality Gloria Penner passed away today after a two-year battle with cancer.

Penner, a senior political correspondent for KPBS, 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.”

About Penner

Penner joined KPBS on Dec. 1, 1969 as director of community relations.  At the time of her hire, the radio station was known as KEBS.  The TV station, KPBS, had formed two years earlier.  Penner came to KPBS having previously worked in broadcast journalism in San Francisco, Hawaii and Washington D.C.

During her 43 years at KPBS, Penner wore several hats, demonstrating her ability to adapt to the changing needs of the station and advances in technology.  She worked as a writer/editor for On-Air Magazine, but also had stints as a writer, producer, host, political correspondent, public affairs director and blogger. 

She headed a KPBS TV program production unit and hosted These Days (now KPBS Midday Edition) on KPBS Radio 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,” Karlo said. “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.”

Awards and distinctions

Penner 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. 

Penner 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. 

Engaged in the community

She 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.

Penner 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 her life and achievements will be held at a later date.

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