Bob Bolinger
Bob Bolinger in the Holiday Bowl’s traditional red sport coat.

If not enough bad stuff happened throughout 2021, then college football fans were disappointed during the year’s final week when the SDCCU Holiday Bowl was canceled after the UCLA Bruins decided not to play the game over COVID-19 concerns.

For advertising and broadcasting executive Bob Bolinger, who has been serving as 2021 president of the San Diego Bowl Game Association, the nonprofit that oversees the football game and parade, Holiday Bowl week was “quite a week,” he told Times of San Diego.

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On the day of the game, about five hours before the scheduled 5 p.m. kickoff, UCLA released a statement saying that the team would be “unable to participate in tonight’s game due to COVID-19 protocols.”

“At five minutes after noontime on game-day, I got a phone call from Mark,” said Bolinger, referring to Mark Neville, San Diego Bowl Game Association CEO. “I first thought Mark was joking because he likes to tell jokes. But, this time, it was no joke.”

The Tuesday, Dec. 28, game was to be played at a renovated Petco Park, temporarily converted from baseball to football for this one event. The North Carolina State Wolfpack was set to play UCLA.

“The word that summarized the week was heartbroken,” Bolinger said. “For the hundreds of volunteers who spent thousands of man-hours, including our sponsors and civic partners like the Padres and San Diego County Credit Union, plus the student-athletes and the hardworking crew at Petco, as well as the thousands of fans who missed seeing their team play, the experience was simply a heartbreaker.”

During the afternoon of gameday, in the hours after UCLA’s decision, Bolinger said efforts were made to find another team to play the Wolfpack. “However, by Wednesday morning, it was obvious that we were out of options,” he said.  So, the game was formally cancelled and the game trophy was awarded to North Carolina State.

“The trophy presentation ceremony was emotional for everyone who was there, including the North Carolina State head coach and players,” Bolinger said. “One of the players approached us unsolicited and said the Holiday Bowl experience was far and away the best he had ever had, and that ‘every single one of my teammates feels the same way I do.’ I’ll remember that comment for a long time.”

It was the second consecutive year for the game’s cancellation. The 2020 Holiday Bowl also was a pandemic victim.

“The only silver lining was that we succeeded in our mission to fill local hotel rooms and restaurants at a slow time in the tourism season,” Bolinger said. “I just wish everyone would have also had the opportunity to enjoy a football game.”

The Holiday Bowl begin in 1978 for the purpose of generating tourism for San Diego and to fill hotel rooms in late December, typically the slowest tourism period of the year in San Diego.

Bolinger’s career has included more than 35 years of executive management experience with several major San Diego radio station groups, including iHeart Media, Entercom and CBS, which owned and operated well-known radio brands as Q106, KFMB, KOGO, KGB, Star 94.1, KyXy and KSON.

In 2020, after 17 years as VP and market manager with CBS Radio and Entercom Communications in San Diego, Bolinger joined two long-time advertising industry friends, Mike Stafford and Bob Cerasoli, to become a partners in CSB Impact, a San Diego marketing and media management firm. He serves as a volunteer on the San Diego Bowl Game Association board.

“More than anything else I’ve learned from my career in radio broadcasting and sales, it is the importance of perspective, that in radio we were usually simply in the business of entertainment and information,” Bolinger said. “It was still very disappointing and heartbreaking this year, but we learned a lot and now we’re looking forward to the game being played in 2022.”

Bolinger’s term as San Diego Bowl Game Association president will end this March. Cherry Park of Qualcomm is next in line to serve as president.

Karen Pearlman Leaves U-T After 25 Years to Join Business Journal

Longtime San Diego journalist Karen Pearlman, who has covered local news and sports since 1986, has left The San Diego Union-Tribune after 25 years and will join the San Diego Business Journal beginning Jan. 10. Pearlman said she will cover retail, tourism and hospitality, a beat previously held by Mariel Concepcion, who has left the weekly business publication.

Karen Pearlman
Karen Peralman

“I’m excited and honored about joining the Business Journal. It will good for my career to add business reporting to my resume,” said Pearlman, who focused mostly on East County community news at the U-T. “I’ll be working with some super journalists on staff and the paper has an excellent reputation.”

Pearlman declined to discuss details about her U-T departure. “It was a mutually agreed-upon separation,” Pearlman told Times of San Diego.

Pearlman joined the U-T in December 1996 as a sports news assistant. She was promoted to news reporter in 2010. Prior to the U-T, she wrote for the El Cajon-based Daily Californian newspaper beginning in 1986 and for the Chula Vista Star-News in the mid-1980s. From 2000 to 2010, she also freelanced for the San Diego Jewish Journal.

The native of Skokie, IL, has lived in San Diego since 1979 and attended Patrick Henry High School, Grossmont College and San Diego State University.

During the past quarter-century of covering meetings of city councils, school boards and other public agencies for the U-T, Pearlman often would be accompanied by Chloe, her four-footed cocker spaniel-poodle mix rescued from the El Cajon Animal Shelter when the dog was age 1 in 2010. “Chloe has been my goodwill ambassador for a long time and a great way to make friends,” Pearlman said.

Evotek Names Mike Mayo as VP of Marketing

San Diego-based Evotek, an enabler of secure digital business, has named Mike Mayo as vice president of marketing. Mayo has experience at leading technology-driven digital marketing efforts and marketing and branding teams at both slide-side enterprises and agencies, the company said.

“Mike brings a unique strength in binding teams together while creating a cohesive experience for employees, customers, and partners,” said Jeff Klenner, president of Evotek. “We are excited to have Mike lead our marketing efforts to deliver on our brand promise of being the premier secure digital business enabler.”

Mike Mayo
Mike Mayo

“I look forward to working with the amazing team at Evotek,” said Mayo. “By driving a consistent and simplified experience, our customers and employees will truly connect with our brand, placing Evotek is in a unique position to bring that connection to new heights.”

Evotek helps customers shift from traditional IT computing to secure multi-cloud with services in cybersecurity, mobility, platform engineering and algorithmic IT operations. The company was named to Inc. Magazine’s “Best Places to Work” in 2018 and 2020. CRN, a publication previously known as Computer Reseller News, also has included the company on its “Solution Provider 500,” “Next-Generation 250,” “Triple Crown” and “Top 150 Growth Companies” lists.

IABC Hosting ‘New Year, New Connections’ Mixer

The International Association of Business Communicators San Diego chapter will kickoff the new year with a “New Year, New Connections” networking mixer from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 12, at The Presley at Liberty Station, 2855 Perry Road. Cost to attend is $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Entry fee includes one drink ticket and appetizers. IABC San Diego board members will be introduced at the event. For more information, visit

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.