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Saturday, October 1, 2022

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KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo Set to Retire

Over the span of his KPBS career, Karlo led the news agency into a new era of multiplatform content.
By SDSU News Team
 

SDSU President Adela de la Torre announced that KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo will retire after a 47-year career at the Public Media station.

Karlo, who began working at KPBS in 1973 as a cameraman when he began as a student while attending SDSU, is slated to retire at the end of the calendar year.

“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.” 

Over the nearly five decades with KPBS, Karlo worked his way up through the organization, including work in television production, operations, program distribution and finance before being named general manager in 2009. With his appointment, Karlo became only the fifth general manager in KPBS’ 60 year history. 

Over the span of his KPBS career, Karlo led the news agency into a new era of multiplatform content. Since 2009, KPBS added a weekday television newscast and digital news on KPBS.org. The agency also added social media to an existing and well established radio news team and, today, has content on more than 30 platforms. 

“It is because of Tom's guidance and leadership that KPBS has expanded, evolved, and grown its loyal viewership to become the most trusted news source in the San Diego and Imperial counties," said Agnes Wong Nickerson, interim vice president for Business and Financial Affairs and chief financial officer, Karlo’s lead. 

"Tom will always be a member of the SDSU family, and thanks to his recent success in raising millions to improve and modernize the KPBS building and equipment, his legacy will continue to make an immense difference at the station,” Wong Nickerson said. 
 
KPBS also launched the Explore San Diego local content initiative that brought audience favorites like 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 Karlo’s nearly 12 years as general manager, KPBS has also 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 from when he took over as general manager.  

In that time, Karlo is also credited with raising nearly $70 million for KPBS’ Building on Trust Capital Campaign in just three short years. The KPBS Producers Club has also grown from 600 families and $700 thousand a year to 1900 families and nearly $2.8 million annually in the nearly 12 years since Tom became General Manager. 

In addition to his dedication to KPBS, Karlo  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. 

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

De la Torre has appointed Associate General Manager for Content and Communications Nancy Worlie to serve as the interim general manager. Worlie’s interim role begins Jan. 1, 2021. Worlie, who graduated from SDSU in 1995, has been at KPBS for 17 years, will continue to lead KPBS through its digital expansion and work closely with SDSU in overseeing the construction and remodel of the KPBS facility.