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 (
California National Guard PAO Major Sweeney

In honor of Armed Forces Day May 15th, we repost Correspondent Tom Wilmer's report from Camp Roberts,  where he visits with Gary McMaster, chairman and curator at the Camp Roberts Historical Museum.

U.S. Army training base Camp Roberts is located 16 miles north of Paso Robles. Camp Roberts dates from March 1941, when it commenced operations as America’s largest U.S. Army basic training base. Throughout WWII, more than 436,000 infantry and field artillery troops completed a 17-week basic training stint at the base.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Geoff Lippman at the American Armory Museum just off Interstate 80 in Fairfield, California where an array of tanks, jeeps, trucks, armored personnel carriers and more are showcased and open to the public. Next up is a visit with Molly Tou, owner of the locals’ favorite diner Two60 Kitchen and Bar where she talks about the journey navigating her business through the COVID crisis and distinctive favorite dishes.

Thomas Wilmer

Rush Ranch is a haven for every variety of outdoor enthusiast, from hikers to birdwatchers and those who simply relish open space. Come along and join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Solano Land Trust’s executive director Nicole Braddock at the 2,000-acre Rush Ranch Nature Center on the outskirts of Suisun City, California.

photo courtesy of KAZU

On this week's show, learn how sheep work to help prevent fires on the Central Coast. Also, after a wildfire in Santa Cruz County destroyed close to 1,500 structures, a local group experiments with fungi, which they say has the ability to remove and even heal toxic burn scars. You’ll hear about the traveling nurses who administer vaccines at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. Latinos make up the majority of the population in Fresno County, but they only account for about 36% of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine; we’ll explore some of the reasons why Latino residents are hesitant. There's a new monthly series of Zoom events put on by NAACP SLO County, called "Know Your Rights", and we’ll take a closer look. Finally, Cal Poly grad and author of the award-winning novel, “Prospects of a Woman”, Wendy Voorsanger shares insights about her work chronicling exceptional women throughout California's history.

Thomas Wilmer

Join assistant winemaker and co-owner of Sunset Cellars, Fah Sathirapongsasuti as he shares cool insights about the winery’s award-winning varietals including the flagship Barbera, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fah is also a Stanford University grad with a PhD in biostatistics from Harvard in Computational Biology. He is also a founding member of 23andMe therapeutics.


Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Ann and Mark Sievers, passionate stewards of Il Fiorello, producers of organically grown olive oil. Join the conversation to learn about discerning ways to utilize olive oil and visiting the farm situated on the outskirts of Fairfield, California in Suisun Valley. Il Fiorello’s sprawling farmland is graced with more than 13 different varieties of olive trees from Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Tunisia.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from the coastal haven of Pacifica, California. Even though the oceanfront community is less than a 20-minute drive from downtown San Francisco, it’s a distinctly kicked-back seaside town. Join Wilmer as he visits with Pacifica City Council member, Mike O’Neill followed by a conversation with innkeeper Ella Patel at the new Anchor Inn with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

Library of Congress

  A century following the genocide of more than 1.5 million Armenians, the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge or apologize their genocidal policies and actions. In the spring of 2015 in conjunction with the centenary of the Turkish genocide (1915-1918) correspondent Tom Wilmer met with Armenian-American Amy Hoogasian in San Francisco.

Hoogasian recalled childhood memories of her grandparents’ tales of horrific abuse and mass murder at the hands of the Turks.

Hoogasian shared her hope for some sort of mea culpa by the Turkish government. But six years after Hoogasian’s conversation first aired (April 24, 2015), the Turkish government remains mute on the subject. April 24th is the formal “anniversary” of the genocide, but the tragic period in Armenian’s collective memory lives on every day.   


Correspondent Tom Wilmer met up with Sandy Lipkowitz, owner of San Francisco based, We Make Travel Easy—specializing in customized travel planning for the discerning traveler to learn about the Floriade experience.

Ms. Lipkowitz shares details about her upcoming tour planned for May 29-June 7, 2022 to the legendary Floriade International Horticultural Expo on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Following the expo, participants will visit the Aalsmeer Flower Auction--the world’s largest flower auction. Participants will then board an AMAWaterways river cruise to visit legendary gardens in The Netherlands and Belguim.

U.S. Army Reserve

Join Major Christopher Lauff, Commander, USAG HHC at Fort Hunter Liggett as he shares details about the May 15 open house.

An array of activities for the public include a WWII C-47 fly-in along with an Coast Guard helicopter, and a hands-on chance for kids and adults to fire rifles and machine guns in the virtual reality lab.

Joe Ping, Senior Training Instructor shares insights about how military training has evolved through virtual reality. Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at U.S. Army Reserve base Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County to learn the rest of the story. 

Suisun Valley Vintners & Growers Association

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Suisun Valley wine region on the outskirts of Fairfield, California where he visits with the owner of Wooden Valley Winery, Ron Lanza.

Courtesy Wendy Voorsanger

Wendy Voorsanger, Cal Poly grad and author of the award-winning novel, Prospects of a Woman talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer. Voorsanger shares insights about the book, and her work chronicling exceptional women throughout California's history featured on her blog She is California.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in Suisun Valley at the Blue Victorian for an insightful conversation about the art of crafting fine wines with award-winning winemaker Jake Stuessy for Vezer Family Vineyards. Suisun Valley is Fairfield, California’s historic wine growing region, less than 8 miles from Napa Valley.

John Jamison

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from the Jelly Belly Candy Company in Fairfield, California. Join John Jamison, VP of retail operations for the story of Jelly Belly the iconic American candy that was founded in 1898 and was a favorite of President Reagan. Jelly Belly candies also went in to orbit with the NASA shuttle Challenger in 1983.

Thomas Wilmer

Fairfield, California is just 45 minutes from San Francisco to the west and 45 minutes to Sacramento to the east, but it’s definitely a world apart. The Fairfield region is home of the legendary Jelly Belly candy factory, and Solano Land Trust’s Rush Ranch Nature Center with 2,000 acres of marsh and grassland.

Fairfield also claims its very own wine-growing region called Suisun Valley just minutes away from downtown that’s a timeless treasure, and a California best-kept-secret destination.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for an exploration of Fairfield and Suisun Valley wine region with Anand Patel, CEO at Visit Fairfield CA followed by a visit with Frank Vezer owner of Vezer Family Vineyard and his general manager Pam Valdivia. Vezer’s tasting room is located at historic Mankas Corner in the heart of Suisun Valley.

U.S. Army

In honor of Fort Hunter Liggett’s 80th anniversary we repost correspondent Tom Wilmer's conversation with Brian Neumann, Ph.D., a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair in Washington D.C.

Newmann talks about lieutenant General Hunter Liggett, who was second-in-command of the U.S. Army’s World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. Liggett was a visionary tactician who transformed field tactics through combined-arms that remain employed by the U.S. Army today.   

Thomas Wilmer

William Randolph Heart’s old ranch headquarters was constructed in 1930. Hearst and architect Julia Morgan’s classic, Moorish/Mission Revival structure, dubbed the Hacienda or Milpitas Ranch House, was sold to the U.S. Army in 1940.

The Hacienda initially served as operations headquarters for Fort Hunter Liggett until the base facilities were constructed in the dawning days of WWII.

Today the Hacienda remains as a treasured historic icon on Army base tucked in a remote valley in the Santa Lucia Mountains in southern Monterey County adjacent to Mission San Antonio.

Come along and join correspondent Tom Wilmer and Lisa Cipolla, historian and Cultural Resources Program Manager at Army Garrison Fort Hunter Liggett for a tour of the Hacienda and tales from the past.

Hearst and his friends such as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Marian Davies, Will Rogers, and Errol Flynn would come to party at the Hacienda. Today you can book an overnight stay in one of the historic rooms where the ranch hands bunked or maybe choose a romantic getaway in Marian Davies old upstairs suite.

This show was originally broadcast April 26, 2018 and is reshared as a "Best-of-the-best" broadcast from the archives of Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer's 31st anniversary of producing on-air travel shows at NPR affiliate KCBX and podcasts.



In the fall of 1990, correspondent Tom Wilmer spent time on the Rainbow Warrior II while the vessel and crew were in the midst of an environmental awareness campaign in British Columbia.  

Alegria Oceanfront Cottages

Join associate producer Molly Blaisdell and 30-year winemaker Jamie Hilgendorf for an exploration of Mendocino Coast’s coveted wine culture with the proprietors of Foursight Wines and Long Meadow Ranch Winery as well as the distinctive accommodations at Sheep Dung Properties and Alegria Oceanfront Inn & Cottages

Thomas Wilmer

  It all started back in 1930 when Nick Bullington was working as an advance man for Ringling Brothers Circus. He discovered a killer bowl of Chile while staying at a San Antonio Hotel. It was the Chili spurred Nick to open his own eatery in downtown Roanoke, Virginia--dubbed the Texas Tavern in homage to the San Antonio hostelry where he fell in love with the Chili.

Courtesy Eric Alexiev

Correspondent Randi Hair reports from Templeton, California where she visits with Eric Alexiev who spent his formative years on the central coast. His father was born and raised in Bulgaria and Eric was immersed as a kid with the cuisine, culture, and stories shared by his father, Alex Alexiev, and Bulgarian friends at the dinner table. The capital city of Sophia and Bulgaria were ingrained in Eric’s thoughts as he grew up.

On this edition of Issues & Ideas, we take a look at a new virtual art exhibit in San Luis Obispo, which documents the local Black Lives Matter Movement. In Santa Maria, local artists and advocates are working together to bring new art to public spaces. Santa Barbara community members gathered in solidarity with the Asian Pacific Islander community last month, after the violence in Georgia. San Luis Obispo County Public Health Director Penny Borenstein looks back at lessons learned about the COVID 19 pandemic. And finally, we check out the 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Join the journey to explore the past and present of Oakridge, Tennessee—the town that was dubbed Secret City as more than 75,000 workers settled in during WWII to develop the nuclear bomb. We’ll then stop in for a visit at Los Alamos National Labs, New Mexico (dubbed Atomic City) also formed in total secrecy during WWII to develop the first nuclear bomb.

Both towns continue high-tech research for the Department of Energy, including environmental issues, 3-D printing and much more. Not far from Los Alamos is White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico where the first plutonium bomb was detonated at Trinity Site in July 1945. Adjacent is White Sands National Park with the world’s largest array of white sand dunes where we visit with park rangers about cool things to do.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a conversation with Dr. Penny Borenstein, San Luis Obispo County's Public Health Director about dealing with COVID-19 over the past year, and best hope scenarios looking in to the near-term future.

Underwriting support provided by Nashville's Big Back Yard economic initiative focused on rural communities in the southwest quarter of Tennessee and the Shoals Region of Northern Alabama.

Nashville's Big Back Yard, an economic and tourism initiative focused on a natural watershed region wending through the Natchez Trace National Parkway, features 12 rural communities. Leiper's Fork is the northern anchor, not far from Nashville. The Big Back Yard journey traverses Tennessee's southwest Quarter down to Alabama's legendary Shoals region--the mother ship of American Music.

Alle Pia

On this episode of Issues & Ideas: the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery at Cuesta College is using virtual reality to bring the art to the people. We’ll take a look at some new trends in the local green building industry. The Foundation at Hearst Castle has an ongoing educational STEAM program aimed at inspiring and empowering young students from underserved communities. Finally, on “Playing With Food” you’ll get a closer look at a local artisan salumiere.

Save the World Brewing Company

Quynh and David Rathkamp made a dramatic transition in their lives. They both gave up successful medical practices to save the world one beer at a time. 

They started the Save the World Brewing Company in Marble Falls, Texas and their business became the first 100 percent philanthropic production brewery in America with all net profits earmarked for worthy causes such as Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels. 

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Abe Marquez, president of the Foundation at Hearst Castle. Marquez shares insights about the foundation’s ongoing educational programs that inspire and empower young students from underserved communities via hands on STEAM programs. Marquez met with Wilmer at the historic Hacienda, designed to serve as William Randolph Hearst’s ranch headquarters by legendary architect Julia Morgan.

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for an exploration of Kona Historical Society’s, Kona Coffee Living History farm, the onetime home of the Uchida Coffee farm founded in 1913. Discover how Kona coffee was grown and harvested by the pioneering Japanese farmers on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Issues & Ideas: Mercy Air, CASA, and downtown SLO's Farmer's Market

Mar 23, 2021

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at U.S. Army Reserve base Fort Hunter Liggett in Monterey County for a conversation with the crew of Mercy Air medevac operations. We’ll also check in with San Luis Obispo County's "Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children program"... known as CASA. Finally, we'll take a look back at the origin of downtown San Luis Obispo's Farmer's Market, and look ahead to see what we can expect upon its reopening.