Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer

Segments air during Issues & Ideas (Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m.)

Tom Wilmer’s Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR Podcast—recorded live on location across America and around the world—showcases the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts.

We cover nouns and verbs—people, places, things, and action—everything from baseball, to exploring South Pacific atolls, to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic. Come along!

Thomas Wilmer

Join the American roots music duo, Suzanne and Jim at the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock. The musical duo came to the museum to do a presentation about historical presidential campaign songs, from the mid 19th century to President Roosevelt’s campaign slogan and song for the 1932 election, Happy Days are Here Again. Listen in as Suzanne and Jim sing some classic songs from historic American presidential campaigns.

This show was originally broadcast November 5, 2016 and is reposted as a “best-of-the-best” podcast in celebration of Journeys of Discovery’s 30th anniversary producing on-air and digital media podcasts featured on KCBX and NPR One.

Thomas Wilmer

Join Visit Lubbock's McKenna Dowdle and Lacie Freelen as they take us on an audio tour of cool things to do and see in Lubbock. Journeys associate producer Jennifer Simonson also visits with Arnis Robbins, owner of Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque—rated as one of top ten barbeque joints in the state of Texas.

Mark Edward Harris

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Mark Edward Harris about his journeys to the far corners of the world, including North Korea, Iran, the wake of devastation following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and documentation of the Orangutans of Borneo.

D. Ross Cameron

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Katya Cengel, adjunct professor at San Luis Obispo's Cal Poly about her passion for baseball, specifically minor league teams. While working as a reporter at the Louisville Courier, Cengel spent over a year traveling with regional minor league teams. Her baseball odyssey is chronicled in her book, Bluegrass Baseball—A Year in the Minor League Life.

International Storytelling Center

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a conversation with Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Sirah shares tales of how he manifests the art and craft of storytelling to propel conversations about peace and reconciliation around the world, and close to home in Tennessee.

Thomas Wilmer

Memphis, Tennessee, native Booker T. Jones started playing the piano as a toddler, and began singing in his church choir as a six year-old. With the release of “Green Onions” in 1962, Booker T. & the M.G.’s organ-infused Memphis soul sound became a number-one hit on Billboard’s R&B chart.

Thomas Wilmer

Travel Correspondent, Tom Wilmer reports from the Heartland of America, where he explores cool things to do and see in Nebraska with Lisa Burke, Executive Director of Visit North Platte Nebraska.

This show was originally broadcast January 7. 2015 and is reposted as a “best-of-the-best” podcast in celebration of Journeys of Discovery’s 30th anniversary producing on-air and digital media podcasts featured on KCBX and NPR One.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with grape grower Vic Roberts, owner of Victor Hugo Winery in Templeton, about the effects of smoke particles from recent Central Coast fires on grapes. Roberts shares industry recommendations to mitigate effects of smoke and ash on grapes.

Kate Virag

Journeys associate producer Rebecca Nolan reports from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she learns about how the city is returning to its rivers and revitalizing downtown. The St. Joseph, St. Marys and Maumee rivers are the reason the city was founded. The place where Fort Wayne sits today used to be called Kekionga, the Miami tribe's largest village. When Europeans came to the area in the 17th century, the place where the three rivers met became an important trading post.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studio in the heart of Nashville’s historic Music Row. Matt Mangano, studio director and bass player in the Zac Brown Band, talks about the facility’s history and present day operations in the former church.

Katya Cengel

With travel adventures limited due to COVID-19, Cal Poly adjunct journalism professor Katya Cengel takes us on a different sort of trip – to a country that does not technically exist. Reality may seem surreal at present, but in the former Soviet Union where Cengel lived earlier this century there were enclaves such as Trans-Dniester—and even though the little country was complete with its very own president, according to the surrounding countries, the little country does not exist.

Leo Hearn

Associate Producer Rebekah Nolan explores "Girls Who Fish" a program designed to attract girls and women to become involved in Newfoundland's commercial fishery. Nolan says, "fishing is the thing that brought the first settlers from England and Ireland about 400 years ago, and it continues to be a vital part of the province’s economy."

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with 87 year-old Dale Seaquist who’s great grandfather emigrated from Sweden to Door County, Wisconsin 150 years ago. Patriarch, Anders Seaquist was among the first settlers in the county to plant apple and cherry trees in the 1890s. Neighboring farmers quickly followed suit. Before long the legend of the farmers’ tangy, tart cherries became the rage nationwide and the Door County peninsula was dubbed Cherryland USA. According to Dale Seaquist, at the height of production, between the 1920s and 1960s, approximately 730 Door County peninsula growers annually shipped more than 50 million pounds of tart cherries.

Thomas Wilmer

The base commander at California National Guard base Camp San Luis talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer about the process of becoming the first military base in America to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality. Initiatives include installation of extensive rooftop solar arrays, 40 electric vehicle charging stations, replacing gasoline powered vehicles with electric power sources, and transitioning to 100 percent LED lighting inside buildings and for exterior lighting. 

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Jon Jarosh, Director of Communications at Destination Door County. Jarosh explains how Door County, Wisconsin has cultivated a motivated COVID-aware tourism sector that goes to great lengths to ensure safe social-distancing, wearing masks and promoting safe outdoor dining and activity venues.

Door County has been a favored vacation destination for families across the Midwest for more than a century. Popular outdoor activities include hiking, biking, boating, and family forays at u-pick cherry orchards. Outdoor experiences continue in the midst of winter with snow shoeing, cross country skiing and ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay.

Thomas Wilmer

Reporting from Door County, Wisconsin, correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Meredith Coulson-Kanter, innkeeper at the historic White Gull Inn, which has been catering to guests in Fish Creek since 1896. Next up is a visit with Martine and Edgar Anderson, owners of Fragrant Isle, the Midwest’s largest lavender farm located on Washington Island.

Thomas Wilmer

Carol and Christian Ash share tales of their Kick Ash coffee house in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. In the midst of COVID-19 their business, in addition to serving killer coffee and gluten-free pastries, has become a community gathering spot via their remote workplace with high-speed Internet. Come along and join the conversation as correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Carol and Christian Ash.

Thomas Wilmer

Karen Berndt, owner of Harbor Fish Market & Grille in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin talks about the reasons why the historic business is thriving in the midst of COVID-19. A combination of ample outdoor dining  and a dedicated staff, attentive to proper social/health protocol are essential aspects of their success in maintaining a viable business.

Thomas Wilmer

Mark Twain was reputed to say that Louisiana’s state capitol was “the ugliest thing on the Mississippi.” Maybe it’s a matter of time and distance, but today lots of people think the former capitol building in Baton Rouge is extraordinarily enchanting, with powerful neo-Gothic medieval castle motifs accented with twin crenellated turrets.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Jamie Cyphers, the great-great-granddaughter of Kingsport, Tennessee moonshiner Charles “Old Man" Bishop, who reportedly first concocted Long Island Iced Tea back in the 1920s.

Wilmer also stops in for a visit with two Kingsport professional bartenders, Shane Winegar and Randy Ashens, who challenged New York mix-masters to a competition to determine which region makes the best Long Island Iced Tea, irrespective of origin.

Rebecca Nolan

Associate producer Rebecca Nolan reports from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she learns about goalball—a team sport designed specifically for blind athletes. Lisa Czechowski has always been athletic. Even though she had a hard time seeing, even a child, that never stopped her playing soccer or basketball with her brothers. She never thought she had any limitations.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Correspondent Tom Wilmer explores the region around Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Environmental educator Jackie Scharfenberg provides insights about the "Ice Age Legacy" at Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Additional visits include:

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he explores why Green Bay Packers fans, self-proclaimed “cheeseheads," are among the most passionate in the entire NFL. Wilmer also explores the Green Bay Botanical Gardens, the National Railroad Museum, Bay Beach Amusement Park (where classic rides like the tilt-o-whirl cost just twenty five cents), and the Green Bay Boohyah Collegiate League baseball team. 

Kodak Corporation

Correspondent Tom Wilmer met up with Georgia Durante at a summer camp for kids run by St. Vincent de Paul in the hills above Santa Barbara, California where she talks about her best selling book, The Company She Keeps chronicling her incredible life journey. 

Thomas Wilmer

A short drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee is the town of Cleveland. A stroll down the main drag reveals a sleepy, slow-paced community with old brick buildings and enchanting homes right out of a Jimmy Stewart, Frank Capra flick. Cleveland, a city of less than 50,000 souls has been chugging along since its incorporation in the 1840s. The local work force has plenty of employment options with Whirlpool, Mars candy bars, Duracell, Olin and Coca Cola operations based in Cleveland.

Moving Picture World

Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Santa Barbara historian Betsy J. Green about Santa Barbara’s Flying A Studios, which was producing movies before the advent of Hollywood. Green also shares insights about the 1918 flu epidemic in Santa Barbara, and how the 1925 earthquake that destroyed numerous buildings spurred the city to mandate all city-core reconstruction projects to employ California Mission-Revival architectural motifs.

Thomas Wilmer

Luckenbach, Texas is hunkered between South Grape Creek and Snail Creek on the south side of Ranch to Market Road 1376, and a mere 13 miles from Fredericksburg.

It was Waylon Jennings’ tune "Back to the Basics of Love" that put Luckenbach on the map. In the early days of the 20th century, Luckenbach was a thriving little town with close to 500 residents, but by the 1960s it claimed just three residents. That’s when the legendary Hondo Crouch and his partner bought the ghost town and started a dance hall and pub.

Thomas Wilmer

Fredericksburg has been the go-to travel destination in the Texas Hill Country for close to a century. Peaches are distinctive in Fredericksburg, as the growers produce all of their tasty treats for the local roadside fruit-stand market.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a conversation with the patriarch of Fredericksburg’s peach empire, Mark Wieser at Fischer & Weiser Specialty Foods. His family started growing peaches for the roadside market back in the 1930s. 

Randi Hair

Boo Mitchell carries on the legacy of his father, Willie Mitchell, as a producer of chart-topping record hits. One of Boo Mitchell’s proudest achievements was taking home the “Record of the Year” Grammy in 2016—the first time in the history of the Grammy Awards that a Memphis-made record garnered the award. Boo’s father is remembered and revered as a pioneer of the Memphis Soul sound. A partnership between Al Green and Willie Mitchell created their first home-run hit in 1971, followed by a number-one hit every year for the next four years.

Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer reports from the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport with a conversation with airport director Kevin Bumen. Bumen shares insights about current protocol of transiting through airports; in-flight COVID-19 precautions and the current status of the airline industry; details about TSA protocols; United, Delta, Alaska and American Airlines' modification of service frequency, including United's temporary elimination of service between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles; and Delta's elimination of service to Santa Barbara.