Meet the Media – Tom Wilmer, Travel Correspondent and host of Audiolog, KCBX-FM – public radio for California’s Central Coast
What’s your top story for today?
A fascinating digital media interview with Oakland-based NPR employee, Sara Sarasohn. Recorded live at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., Sarasohn details NPR’s new NPR ONE which is NPR’s version of Pandora; and according to NPR, possibly the future of public radio.
Tell us about your dream assignment.
There are far too many to choose from, but top of my list would be trekking through game preserves in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Other contenders would be a month in China or riding horseback in an Australian Outback cattle drive.
Describe the wackiest story you’ve written.
I travelled to Finnish Lapland to meet and interview the real Santa Claus at Christmas. Whilst there, I discovered a Santa theme park sited underground in a cave, and Santa’s headquarters where cadres of elves answer millions of letters from kids around the globe. A YouTube video detailing the adventure has received more than 230,000 visitors, including more than 50 venomous Santa haters (how can anyone hate Santa?!)
What is your PR pet peeve?
PR folks who are great a communicating a request, and then go MIA when I send them a clip or a URL. We are all overloaded, but my advice to PR people is to always acknowledge a communication, with at least a simple “Got it, Thx!” so we’ll know you got it.
Top trend in the industry you’re currently covering or are interested in.
My favorite subjects always have a “greater good” component. I do enjoy covering paradise in French Polynesia, but love to share stories about people involved in meaningful endeavors, such as the NASA scientist who gives back by putting on a Space Camp at St. Vincent de Paul’s summer camp in the hills above Santa Barbara – now that’s a touching, life changing tale.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I started my journalism career as a copy boy at The Wall Street Journal’s West Coast Edition in Palo Alto while attending Foothill College. Bitten by the travel bug, I talked my way in to positions as travel editor at regional newspapers, and subsequently travel columnist for numerous lifestyle magazines, including a five-year stint as travel editor for Las Vegas Magazine. For the past 25 years, I have also produced and hosted the on-air travel show for California Central Coast NPR affiliate KCBX, and since 2012 have hosted the NPR Podcast travel show Journeys of Discovery. Winner of the prestigious 2013 and 2015 Lowell Thomas Award, the show is also a featured podcast on NPR One, iTunes, stitcher.com, and numerous other podcast sites around the world.
Recently, I’ve been blessed to receive video/audio assignments from National Park Service’s Alcatraz Tours and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program in celebration of their 20th Anniversary. I periodically teach a podcasting class at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and will be teaching two Podcasting Bootcamps and Introduction to Travel Writing at the Central Coast Writers Conference from September 18-20.
I am vice president of the San Francisco-based Bay Area Travel Writers group and invite producing travel related journalists and photographers to join.
Questions or comments for Tom? Leave a comment below or follow him on Twitter @TomCWilmer.