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Monday, January 21, 2019

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In Memoriam: Paul Steen

KPBS mourns the loss of Paul Steen.
By SDSU News Team

Paul Steen, the longest serving general manager in KPBS history, died Dec. 17. He was 82.

str-082008-johngraham2-virtualmapPaul Steen

Steen served as KPBS general manager from 1974 until his retirement in 1992. He began his KPBS career in 1967 as director of operations when KPBS TV originally went on the air.

“Paul Steen led KPBS during its most formative years,” said current general manager Tom Karlo. “Paul came to KPBS at the birth of our television station and then, as general manager, was responsible for creating the KPBS TV Auction. Our TV auction was huge part of who KPBS was during the '70s and '80s and allowed us to connect with our audiences in a fun way.”

A visionary

Steen is credited with making the decision in 1990 to switch KPBS-FM’s format to all news. He also led the “Campaign to Make a Difference” in the early 1990s, which raised funds to build the current KPBS building on the San Diego State University Campus.

“Paul was a visionary, and I was so fortunate to have worked under him for nearly two decades,” Karlo said.

Under Steen’s management, the station produced landmark programs for television and radio, including "That’s 30" with Gloria Penner; "Contact 89;" "Calling Moscow;" and "These Days." 

Additionally, the station provided daily broadcasts of flagship NPR and PBS programs, including "Morning Edition" and "The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour." During Steen’s term, KPBS also accomplished broadcast history by transmitting the first over-the-air digital HDTV signal.

Steen was inducted into the KPBS Hall of Fame in 2010 as a charter member. He and his wife Judy supported KPBS as Producers Club Members, attending many events throughout the year.