Tom Wilmer

Host of Journeys of Discovery

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, and served as digital-media travel host for KRML in Carmel, Calif.

The Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer podcast is also featured on the NPR ONE mobile app, iTunes, Stitcher.com, player.fm (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, and the prestigious Tourism Australia/QANTAS "Henry Lawson Travel Writing Award" for the best North American feature about Australia as a travel destination.

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:

  • First Place Award for Best Short Video- Pinnacles National Park 2015.
  • Wilmer and his video partner, Simo Nylander produced a video for National Park Service's Alcatraz Cruises 2015
  • In-depth video audio series for the Morro Bay National Marine Estuary Winner of 2015 "Best Outdoor Video"
  • Award from Outdoor Writers Association of California, along with "Best Short Video" award for Morro Bay Estuary Water Quality feature
  • Amgen California bike race 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. (www.press.org)
  • Vice President (SF) Bay Area Travel Writers (www.batw.org)
  • Board of Directors Outdoor Writers Association of California (www.owac.org) 
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Birmingham, Alabama. Join Charles Woods III, education programs manager at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, for a TED talk-style walking tour of the institute’s museum and adjacent Kelly Ingram Park. The park was the site of major protests in the 1960s, where attack dogs were unleashed and the city's then-police chief directed assaults on the protesters with high-pressure fire hoses.

Visit Fredericksburg

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Brewmaster, Rick Green and his assistant Riley Smith at Fredericksburg Brewing Company in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas. The Brewing Company (the oldest brewpub in Texas) specializes in old-world German-style beers that celebrate Fredericksburg’s German heritage. Their style is predicated on the 500 year-old German purity laws Reinheitsgebot limiting ingredients to hops, barley, yeast and water. Although the brewmasters do diverge and come up with some zesty, super popular seasonal specials.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer talks with the city manager of Morro Bay, Scott Collins, about the local government's response to the pandemic shutdown. As a popular seaside travel destination in recent decades, the economic health of Morro Bay has been dependent on tax revenue generated by hotel occupancy, retail sales, and rental income from waterfront business leases—all of which have plummeted due to COVID-19. For the first time in modern history, Morro Bay has instituted reverse tourism promotions to discourage visitors and vacationers.

Thomas Wilmer

It all started with a peach orchard planted in 1928 with an adjacent roadside fruit stand in Fredericksburg, Texas. Today, in addition to fresh peaches available at the fruitstand, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods cooking sauces are distributed nationwide. 

Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer in the rural Tennesee heartland for a visit with Becky Magura, CEO of PBS affiliate WCTE, serving middle Tennessee; and a visit with Hippie Jack at his farm. Hippie Jack, aka Jack Stoddart, shares snippets from his life journey passionately advocating for residents of the Upper Cumberland communities—where coal mining once thrived.  

KCBX

Kain Tietzel, CEO and founder of Sydney, Australia-based Start VR talks about the newly released Atlas Obscura VR (virtual reality) hi-fidelity virtual travel experience.

Issues & Ideas: Camp Roberts distancing, the Noriega closes and past vigilantes

May 12, 2020

On this episode of Issues and Ideas, we learn more of the history behind Bakersfield's Noriega Hotel, which recent closed its doors for good. A Bakersfield institution, it was the oldest Basque restaurant in town and a winner of the prestigious James Beard Award. Also, Camp Roberts’ garrison commander has a conversation with correspondent Tom Wilmer about modified training and adjustments made to daily life at the National Guard base due to social distancing. We speak with Avila Beach resident and author Pete Kelley about his new local history book. And we’ll take a look at the 2020 census, and some new strategies used to get the word out to undercounted communities. Finally, we'll hear from San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre managing artistic director Kevin Harris about keeping a theater company alive during a pandemic.

Palace Hotel

When the Palace Hotel first opened its doors in 1875 it was proclaimed the largest hotel in the world and San Francisco’s first luxury hotel. Destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, the hotel was rebuilt in 1909 and the grand dame of San Francisco lives on as the city’s most historic hotel and the place to see and be seen.

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, the SLO Chamber of Commerce's Jim Dantona speaks with SLO County health officer Dr. Penny Borenstein—not just about public health issues, but Borenstein's personal path to the job that, before the current pandemic, was not often in the public spotlight. We visit with a retired pilot, Captain Karen Kahn, one of the first female pilots hired to fly with a commercial airline, and learn more about a nonprofit—where Kahn is a mentor—that teaches Santa Barbara-area youth all aspects of aviation and, ultimately, how to fly a plane. Tom Wilmer speaks with Christine Johnson, executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium, about the Avila aquarium and the planned Morro Bay expansion. Finally, Monterey County organizations pick up the phone to check in with people during the shutdown. 

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Christine Johnson, executive director of the Central Coast Aquarium, to learn more about the future of that facility, as well as plans for a new incarnation of the Morro Bay Aquarium.

Jason Sweeney

Garrison commander Colonel Robert Horvath talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer about modified training and adjustments to daily life due to social distancing at California National Guard base Camp Roberts.

On this week's Issues & Ideas, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, by speaking to its organizer, Denis Hayes, in a wide-ranging and in-depth conversation. Correspondent Tom Wilmer takes us to Camp San Luis Obispo to find out what the National Guard are doing there. To see how virtual learning is faring during pandemic school closures, we check in with school districts in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. We also learn how Santa Barbara teenagers are helping seniors during the pandemic through a program called 'Zoomers to Boomers.' All that and more on this episode of Issues & Ideas.

NBC News

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum Executive Director Kari Watkins as she recalls the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. In addition to destroying one third of the Murrah Federal Building and killing 168 people, more than 325 buildings in a 16-block radius were damaged. The Oklahoma bombing remains as the deadliest domestic terrorism attack in America’s history. 

Captain Jason Sweeney California National Guard

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from the California National Guard base Camp San Luis Obispo, where he interviews San Luis Obispo County employees and National Guard members involved in food and medical supply warehousing and distribution to first responders and regional food banks.

Thomas Wilmer

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (COES) and the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) are charged with coordinating emergency preparedness and response to natural disasters and threats to civil order, including cyber and terrorist attacks, fires, earthquakes, floods and pandemics such as the coronavirus. COES and CSTI maintain training facilities at the California National Guard base Camp San Luis Obispo. 

Thomas Wilmer

Fort Hunter Liggett, in southern Monterey County, is America’s largest US Army Reserve training installation. It is also a remote community with specific actions being taken during the ongoing COVID 19 crisis. Associate Producer Carol Tangeman visits with Colonel Charles Bell, commander at Fort Hunter Liggett

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer talks with wine producer Vic Roberts, owner of Victor Hugo Winery in Templeton, about transformations in the wine industry in response to COVID-19.

Catiethering.com

There are two standard options for dogs and cats that arrive at shelters and pounds: adoption or euthanasia. Lisa LaVerdiere decided to create another option that she dubbed The Third Door, providing a home for unadoptable dogs and cats. In a recent visit, correspondent Tom Wilmer learns that LaVerdiere was a successful tort lawyer with a specialization in asbestos issues and juvenile lead poisoning. 

Thomas Wilmer

Teresa Stephens, owner of the Lubbock, Texas Cast Iron Grill recounts her fear of the homeless, until she confronted her phobia and wound up embracing and making sacrifices to feed those in need. Join correspondent Tom Wilmer at the Cast Iron Grill in downtown Lubbock, adjacent to the Buddy Holly Museum, as Stephens shares her poignant tale that ultimately enriched and transformed her life through serving the homeless.

On this episdoe of Issues & Ideas: We learn more about a STEAM—science, technology, engineering, the arts and math—program for middle school students offered by the Foundation at Hearst Castle. And a nationwide shortage prompts distilleries in San Luis Obispo County to turn production over to hand sanitizer. We hear more about a nonprofit organization called 'School on Wheels' that tutors homeless children in Santa Barbara County. And Father Ian takes us on an educational tour of Central Coast olive groves and olive oil producers. 

Randi Hair

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from the Greensboro, North Carolina where he meets with Greensboro Battleground Parks District's imagineers. 

Irish Archeology

The famine ship Jeanie Johnston, built in 1848, made 16 trans-Atlantic passages carrying more than 2,500 passengers. The vessel is revered in the annals of the Irish Potato famine as not one life was lost throughout her career—while many famine ships lost more than 30 percent of their manifest to disease, lack of fresh water and toxic food. 

Randi Hair

12 year-old Tu Sen arrived in America from a Thailand refugee camp in 1986, clutching her treasured possessions wrapped in a cardboard box. Eventually settling in High Point, North Carolina, Tu worked in her family’s restaurant for 19 years before opening her own eatery, 98 Asian Bistro, five years ago. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Tu Sen and meets with Patrick Chapin, CEO of High Point Chamber of Commerce, about the reinvention of downtown High Point.

On this week's episode of Issues & Ideas, we hear how the pandemic is affecting the hospitality industry in Monterey County, and operations at the SLO County airport. Cal Poly journalism lecturer Kim Bisheff talks about the current media landscape, and suggests ways we can find news outlets we can trust. We visit Atascadero Lake to witness the installation of a new bioswale project and learn how it will improve water quality. And we hear about the hundreds of 'catch-and-eat' rainbow trout just planted in the lake. 

Randi Hair

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Louisiana's East Baton Rouge Parish, in the outback near the village of Zachary. Following a pitch-black evening drive along a gravel road, we arrive at Teddy’s Juke Joint for a visit with the legendary proprietor 73 year-old Lloyd Johnson Junior. 

Thomas Wilmer

Kevin Bumen, director of the San Luis Obispo County Airport, offers insights into the current status of travel by air and specific health and safety responses to COVID-19.  

Randi Hair

Louisiana's East Baton Rouge Parish Library has come a long way since its founding in 1939 with a collection of second-hand donated books. Today the card catalogs are long gone, and the library’s collection now includes more than two million items serving more than 325,000 registered borrowers. 

Thomas Wilmer

Michael Young, the Foundation at Hearst Castle's executive director, talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer about the foundation’s conservation and restoration programs, and what he considers the benefits of membership. Young also shares his passion for the Foundation’s middle school field trip experiences, aimed at inspiring students through Hearst Castle State Park STEAM experiences. 

Courtesy Jill Dutton

Jill Dutton, author of the "USA by Rail" travel blog and "Ride the Southwest Chief," a soon-to-be -completed series of twelve rail travel guides, talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer about traveling around America by train. 

On this episode of Issues & Ideas, we hear from local winemaker Neil Collins, named 2019 “Person of the Year” by the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. Collins visits the KCBX studio to talk about his background, changes he’s seen in the local industry and a coming new certification for products produced by regenerative operations. 

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