Tom Wilmer

Host of Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer

Host of the Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR digital media travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, Wilmer has also produced the on-air travel show for KCBX since 1989. Wilmer also served as digital-media travel host for KRML in Carmel, Calif 2015-2017.

The Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer podcast is also featured on the NPR ONE mobile app, iTunes,, (UK) a selected "Best Travel Roundup Podcast" and more than 20 other podcast channels around the world. Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer travel show covers a wide array of subjects including agriculture, culture, arts, science, history and cuisine.

In addition to winning the Lowell Thomas Award--Best Radio Travel Show for several years, Wilmer is the recipient of more than a dozen prestigious industry awards for radio and video, including recipient of six Lowell Thomas Awards for best radio broadcast travel shows, and the prestigious Tourism Australia/QANTAS "Henry Lawson Travel Writing Award" for the best North American feature about Australia as a travel destination.

In addition to work as an audio podcast and on-air travel show host and producer, he also serves as Culture Editor at LA based 360 Magazine, and Travel Editor for the prestigious NYC based Civilian Magazine.

Wilmer was Travel Editor for Central Coast Magazine in California from its inception through 2008, and Travel Editor at Las Vegas Magazine (1998 - 2003), he has also been a frequent contributor to numerous upscale lifestyle magazines including Tahoe Quarterly, and Arizona Foothills, and former Home Section columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and locally has produced features for New Times, The Tribune and other regional publications.

Author of three books: Romancing the Coast, California Coast Getaways, and Wine Seekers Guide to Livermore Valley. Wilmer has also produced numerous lifestyle magazine features and more than 1,500 newspaper travel feature stories. His Knight Ridder Syndicate travel features have appeared in more than 40 North American newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

His on-location shows have ranged from the Arctic to African safaris, in the wheelhouse of the Rainbow Warrior II, flying in WWII bombers, navigating a micro light above Victoria Falls, sailing around Grenada, hiking through the wilds of Malaysian jungles and exploring remote atolls and isles throughout the South Pacific. His feature, recorded live at Harland & Wolfe Shipyards in Belfast Northern Ireland, celebrating the centenary of the launch of the Titanic was the recipient of a Best Travel award from Outdoor Writers Association of California.

Recent video/audio Awards:

  • Recipient of 6 Lowell Thomas Awards bestowed by Society of American Travel Writers Foundation.
  • First Place Award for Best Short Video- Pinnacles National Park
  • First place award for video documentary about the Morro Bay National Estuary bestowed by LA Independent Film Festival 2017
  • Radio & TV judge for Delaware Press Association annual competition.
  • Wilmer and his video partner, Simo Nylander produced a video for National Park Service's Alcatraz Cruises, recipient of a Best Video award bestowed by the Outdoor Writers Associationn of California
  • In-depth video audio series for the Morro Bay National Marine Estuary Winner, Best Outdoor Video Outdoor Writers of California.
  • Award from Outdoor Writers Association of California, along with "Best Short Video" award for Morro Bay Estuary Water Quality feature
  • Amgen California bike race television commercial 2016
  • First Place "Best Outdoor Radio Feature" Saving Cecil's recorded live on location in Botswana
  • Second Place "Best Outdoor Radio Series" for Audubon Rowe Sandhill Cranes, First Federally Funded Wild Mustang Refuge, Heartland Shooting Range Grand Island, Nebraska. Awarded by Outdoor Writers Association of California

Professional Membership:

  • National Press Club, Washington D.C. (
  • Board of Directors (SF) Bay Area Travel Writers (
Ryan French

Sara Beth Urban, executive director at the Tennessee Distillers Guild shares insights about Tennessee's 32 participating distilleries. Urban also talks about the association’s advocacy to ensure and enhance the consumer’s experience while visiting destinations along the fabled Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

In the 4th part of our 12 episode series on farmworkers called Beyond the Furrows, KCBXs Francisco Martinez explores Guadalupe. Local business SLOCAL Roots is proposing a cannabis cultivation project in Paso Robles, although neighbors of the site have concerns. The King City art center Sol Treasures is putting on a summer camp this year with a theme of “samurais of peace” for the children. A passion for dance pays off as a King City dancer is accepted to Kirov Academy in Washington DC.

Ryan French

Jack Daniel’s Distillery, first opened back in 1866, claims the coveted title as Tennessee’s and America’s oldest registered distillery. Jack Daniel’s classic “Old No. 7” won its first of seven gold medals back in 1904 at the St. Louis Missouri World’s Fair.

Tom Wilmer reports from Lynchburg, Tennessee at Jack Daniel’s world headquarters for a most insightful conversation with assistant distiller Lexie Phillips. She reveals fascinating insights about the unique characteristics that make Jack Daniel’s whiskey so distinctive.

For example Jack Daniel’s coveted yeast strain has been cultured on location non-stop since Prohibition. The iron-free spring water is naturally filtered through Tennessee limestone, and locally sourced sugar maple, used in the charcoal filtration process, infuses unique, flavorful fruity and floral esters.

Come along and join Lexie Phillips at Jack Daniel’s stillhouse to discover the rest of the story.

U.S. Army Reserve Fort Hunter ligget PAO

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer reporting from Fort Hunter Liggett, U.S. Army Reserve training base in Monterey County for a conversation with the new Garrison Commander Colonel Lisa Lamb.

Colonel Lamb was serving in Stuttgart Germany with the Africa Command before accepting the position at Hunter Liggett.

Lamb’s previous assignments include serving at the Pentagon’s Headquarters Department of the Army as a force integration officer. Come along and join Colonel Lisa Lamb to learn the rest of the story.

Ryan French

Come along and join correspondent Tom Wilmer deep in the realm of Tennessee’s historic whiskey distilleries. Wilmer visits with Kelly Coleman, brand home manager, and tour guide Tori Perry at Cascade Hollow Distillery in Tullahoma, Tennessee situated just down the road from Jack Daniels.

Cascade Hollow Distillery dates from 1878 when George Dickel opened for business in nearby Coffee County, Tennessee. 

Thomas Wilmer

The Beechcraft Aircraft Company has been based in Wichita, Kansas since it was founded in 1932, while the iconic Beechcraft Heritage Museum is located in the rural Tennessee town of Tullahoma not far from the Alabama border.

The connection is that Walter Beech was born and raised in nearby Pulaski, Tennessee. The museum was originally formed in 1973 to showcase the iconic Beechcraft Staggerwing biplane.

Over the years the breadth of classic Beechcraft airplanes featured at the museum’s 60,000 square-foot facility has expanded to include the classic V-tail Beechcraft Bonanzas, the iconic twin Beech 18, the Baron and King Air, the futuristic 2000 Starship and a Beech T-34 Naval trainer, with a total of more than 35 classics of the sky on display.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer to learn the rest of the story with Charles Parish, President at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum located at the Tullahoma Regional Airport—that served in a previous incarnation as a WWII Army Air Corps’ B-17 training base.

When George Dennis retired from his career as an American Airlines pilot, he wanted to do something more than just retire. His next mission came along when he noticed an old DC-3 airplane sitting in a field.

Dennis couldn’t resist temptation and put a down payment on his credit card to purchase the aircraft--and thus was born the non-profit Flagship Detroit. A 17-year odyssey ensued that entailed a meticulous aircraft restoration with the assistance of literally thousands of volunteers.

Employees at American Airlines also volunteered their time to assist with a myriad of details from air frame restoration to reupholstering the interior finishes, Originally built in Santa Monica, California back in 1937, the aircraft served as American Airlines’ Flagship-City of Detroit" until the craft was sold in 1948. Today, the City of Detroit Flagship, the world's oldest airworthy DC-3, remains in service, participating in air shows around the country.   

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at the Shelbyville Municipal Airport in Tennessee for a visit with George Dennis and his airborne compatriots, Dave Buffington, Lisa Butler and her husband Blake Butler.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Tampa, Florida where he learns about the life-saving mission of Southeastern Guide Dogs and their adjunct Paws for Patriots.

Bobby Newman, owner of J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Ybor City, and board member of Southeastern Guide Dogs, shares fascinating insights with Wilmer and Tampa Bay Economic Development Council representative, Laura Fontanills about the two-year process of training guide dogs.

Southeastern Guide Dogs school their K-9 pupils to serve as guide dogs, service dogs, emotional support dogs, facility therapy dogs and Gold Star family dogs.

Newman notes that to date the suicide rate is zero among PTSD veterans who have partnered with a service dog. Statistically, 22 PTSD veterans commit suicide every day. Come along and join Newman in Ybor City to learn the rest of the story.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Little Rock, Arkansas where he visits with Stephanie Wade, Director of the Historic Arkansas Museum. Located in the heart of downtown Little Rock the museum includes the town’s oldest building the circa-1827 Hinderliter Grog Shop along with other historic structures and a blacksmith shop.

Within the two-story museum there’s an array of Arkansas-crafted treasures including clothing, dolls, furniture, quilts and paintings. There’s also a gallery featuring contemporary Arkansas-made items from quilts to crafts and decorative fine arts.  

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Little Rock, Arkansas as Scott McGehee shares tales of his passion for food. His lifelong love of the culinary arts started with his mom and that led to an incredible and transformative stint in Alice Water’s kitchen at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

Today, McGehee is a partner in Little Rock based Yellow Rocket Concepts with a growing array of eateries, including Big Orange, Local Lime and the Lost Forty Brewpub.

Wilmer met up with McGehee at Yellow Rockets’ Heights Taco & Tamale Company. Come along and join McGehee as he shares his incredible passion for all things culinary.

National Park Service/ Tom Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Little Rock, Arkansas for an interview with Robin White, National Park Service Superintendant at Central High School National Historic Site, and Courtney Bradford, professor of black history and curator at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, hear the second part of "Beyond the Furrows", our 12 part series on farmworkers in Santa Barbara County. Also, learn more about the health risks of smoke from wildfires and get some advice on how we can prepare for this wildfire season. And, during the pandemic lockdown, restaurants had to scramble to adopt digital technology in order to keep their businesses open. We’ll visit with the Makela family at their Santa Barbara County olive ranch. And finally, RISE and Stand Strong, two local nonprofits providing services for sexual and intimate partner violence, have merged to create the Lumina Alliance.

Ryan French

Join Tennessee’s poetic maven, “Maggie” Margaret Britton Vaughn at her home in the village of Bell Buckle where she waxes eloquent about her immersive, creative life in Tennessee with correspondent Tom Wilmer.

The diversity of her artistic expressions include decades of writing lyrics for Nashville Country stars including Ernest Tubb, Charley Weaver and Loretta Lynn.

Her lifelong friendship with Minnie Pearl remains as one of her true creative treasures…along with a lifelong adoration for Nashville’s “Mother Church”—The Ryman Auditorium.

Ms. Vaughn is celebrating her 26th year as the state of Tennessee’s official Poet Laureate. Close to her heart is her Bicentennial poem written back in 1996 that remains today as fresh and timeless as yesterday.

Come along and join Ms. Vaughn for a riveting and hilarious hour of tales her amazing 83-year journey chronicling a passionate love for life in the south.

Tennessee Tourism

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Mark Ezell, Tennessee Commissioner of Tourist Development. As an enticing inducement to stimulate travelers to experience not only the allures of Nashville but the myriad outdoor experiences around the state, 10,000 $250 airline vouchers are up for grabs as an integral part of the state’s “Tennessee on Me” tourism initiative.

Come along and join Ezell as he shares the incredible litany of things to do and see across the state, from city experiences including Memphis, Chattanooga, and of course Nashville, to an incredible array of outdoor activities.

Cindy Dupree

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer reporting from Florence, Alabama where he visits with legendary fashion designer Billy Reid as he shares tales from his incredible life journey.

Reid is one of only four American fashion designers who have won three or more Council of Fashion Designers or America’s prestigious CFDA Awards.

Alabama Chanin

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a most insightful conversation with Chanin at her combination showroom and School of Making in Florence, Alabama.

For NYC fashion legend Natalie Chanin, it was a fruitless hunt for a NYC embroidery company willing to work on her hand-sewn designer t-shirt projects that spurred her to move back home to Florence, Alabama.

Frustrated with an endless litany of thanks but no thanks from East Coast embroidery companies, it suddenly dawned on Chanin that her network of rural crafter/quilting friends back in Alabama would be ideally suited to work on her discerning hand-sewn designer projects. Chanin moved back home to Florence in 2000 and she’s never looked back. Come along and join the conversation.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a revealing conversation about African American history with Courtney Bradford, curator of collections at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ms. Bradford is also a professor of African American Studies at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Ms. Bradford shares fascinating insights about African American history revealed and embraced through the legacy of storytelling, music, art, architecture, cuisine and more.

Ryan French (left image) Tom Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits two distinctly different Episcopal parishes and finds both rectors sharing consistent philosophies predicated on compassion and engagement.

Christopher Bowhay is the Rector St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Columbia Tennessee. Bowhay’s church dates from 1860, but his parish also stewards the antebellum St. John’s Episcopal Church in nearby Ashwood, Maury County, Tennessee.

On today’s show, we’ll hear the story of a large area of Santa Barbara open space that will remain undeveloped, as "Save the San Marcos Foothills" has reached its goal to purchase the 101 acre site, west of hwy 154. San Francisco International Airport has an impressive showcase of the arts in galleries throughout the airport. Local author Corinne Ardoin shares her quest for publication- and for a better understanding of her relationship with her heritage. And finally, daikon is growing just outside of San Luis Obispo as a cover crop for a vineyard and Playing With Food's Father Ian checks it out.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer reporting from Santa Barbara County for a visit with the Craig, Cindy and Chad Makela at their organic olive ranch in the rugged hills above Refugio State Beach.

Thomas Wilmer

The town of North Little Rock, Arkansas is separated from the capital city of Little Rock by the Arkansas River. Come along and join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Scott Sudduth with the North Little Rock Convention & Visitors bureau to discover the array of cool and distinctive attractions.

Arkansas Business News

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Gretchen Hall, President and CEO of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau to discover the litany of cool things to do and see in the capital city of Arkansas.

Highlights include the River Market District, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, as well as an abundance of historic homes, trendsetting cuisine and much more.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Little Rock, Arkansas for a conversation with Arkansas State Tourism Director, Travis Napper. Arkansas’s moniker is “The Natural State” as there’s an eye-popping litany of outdoor activities that attract visitors from around the world.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Tim O’Brien, assistant director and curator of exhibitions at the SFO Museum. SFO showcases the arts, science, pop-culture, anthropology and aviation history in 28 galleries located in terminals throughout the airport.

Thomas Wilmer

JUL 19, 2016

The International Towing and Recovery Museum in ChattanoogaTennessee features famous tow trucks, including the world’s largest wrecker, a WWII tank recovery tow truck, and the world’s oldest tow truck. 

But equally engaging is the Tow Truck Wall of Fame honoring tow truck industry legends from around the world. Most touching is the Wall of The Fallen out front, with a large bronze statue of a driver lifting a mother and child from a nearly submerged car. The Wall of the Fallen proudly lists 389 tow-truck drivers killed in the line of duty around the world. America’s first tow truck was built in 1916, about three miles away from the museum, at the Ernest Holmes Company.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Chattanooga, Tennessee for a visit with the International Towing & Recovery Truck Museum Executive Director, Angela Roper. This show was originally published July 19, 2016 and is reshared as a best-of-the-best radio travel show celebrating the 31st anniversary of Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer's on-air and digital media podcasts.

Ryan French

Franklin, Tennessee historian and attorney-at-law Tony Turnbow, envestigates the possibility that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, didn’t commit suicide in 1809. Turnbow shares compelling circumstantial evidence that Lewis was actually murdered and robbed while traveling along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee.


In this edition of Issues & Ideas, researchers at UCSB have made a breakthrough in using gene-editing technology to create sterile male mosquitoes. We’ll visit Edna Contemporary, a fine art gallery tucked behind Basalt Interiors in downtown SLO; as part of KCBX's Arts Beat, Lauren Walike talks to owner Sheryl Daane Chestnut. It’s time for summer camp, and experts say that in addition to COVID-19, racial justice movements of the past year could lead to a revamping of current camp culture. U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett in southern Monterey County is on target to reach their goal of Net-Zero energy resiliency to critical facilities by 2022 via a new micro-grid. The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with Mark Lisa, CEO of Tenet Health Central Coast, about how healthcare on the Central Coast is changing as a result of Covid-19. Note: Tenet Health is a financial supporter of KCBX. And finally, we’ll learn about the Coastal Dunes California Writers’ Club, which brings together published and yet-to-be published authors so they can share knowledge and encouragement.

U.S. Army

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from U.S. Army Reserve Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County for a conversation with Commander Colonel Charles Bell.

Bell shares recollections of his accomplishments and challenges at Fort Hunter Liggett as Garrison Commander for the past 24 months. He also shares insights about his new assignment in Salt Lake City, Utah as Chief of Staff for the 76th Operational Response Command.

Ryan French

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Eric Jacobson, CEO of the Battle of Franklin Trust. Jacobson talks about the last major battle of the Civil War, The Battle of Franklin in Middle Tennessee, November 30, 1864.

He also shares insights about the complex legacy of the Civil War—from advances in medicine to the advent of the KKK. How the 1915 Hollywood film Birth of a Nation and the 1939 debut of Gone With The Wind propelled the advocates who believe that the war was actually a “War of Northern aggression”.

But most importantly Jacobson shares his optimistic faith in the critical thinking skills of the generation of Americans who came of age in the post civil-rights era.

The Spa at Leipers Fork

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at the Spa at Leipers Fork, Tennessee for a visit with owner, Lisa Crary. In addition to operating the popular spa, Ms. Crary is also the CEO of Sanitas Skincare Corporation based in Boulder, Colorado. Of course Ms. Crary’s eco-friendly, dye-free skincare products are featured at the Leipers Fork Spa, as well as spas and salons across America including world-class resorts such as the Montage, and Sandals Resorts throughout the Caribbean.