Deanna Mackey
Deanna Mackey

KPBS, San Diego’s Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio affiliate with studios at San Diego State University, has appointed a public radio veteran and SDSU graduate to serve as its new general manager.

Deanna Mackey, a 1988 graduate who majored in journalism and political science, will oversee KPBS Radio 89.5-FM and 97.7-FM, KPBS-TV and associated digital platforms.

Mackey succeeds associate general manager Nancy Worlie, who has been serving as interim GM since 2021, following the retirement of Tom Karlo, who was GM for 11 years.

SDSU said Mackey is the first Latina to serve in the role. Mackey begins her new job June 30.

Mackey began working at KPBS in 1985 as an editorial assistant while attending SDSU. She left KPBS in 1987 to serve as editor of The Daily Aztec, the university’s student-operated newspaper, and to work in radio news and magazine publishing.

She returned to KPBS in 1990 and remained for 25 years, serving in various roles, including managing editor of On Air Magazine (1990-1992), media relations coordinator (1992-1994), director of public information (1994-1998), associate general manager (1998-2009) and station manager-chief operating officer (2009-2015).

Mackey has spent the past seven years as president and executive director of the Public Television Major Market Group, a leadership organization comprised of the largest public TV stations in the country, representing nearly 70% of the national audience.

Now, she has returned to KPBS to lead a staff of 180 employees and an annual budget of more than $37 million.

Mackey admits she has been eyeing the KPBS GM job for a long time.

“Definitely,” she told Times of San Diego. “The past seven years have been a terrific experience, sharing ideas and collaborating with public media leaders on a national basis. However, over the years, there were many times I got excited thinking how this-or-that program could work at KPBS.

“Now I’m honored for the opportunity to bring my 25 years of experience at the station, my deep roots in San Diego, and my national perspective, and come back in this leadership role. It speaks to the fundamental training that SDSU provided me as a student. For me, this is like coming home.”

Mackey takes the reins at a time of controversy over the half-billion-dollar federal subsidy of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and complaints from conservatives about news coverage by public media.

In the university’s statement on Mackey’s appointment, President Adela de la Torre noted, “KPBS demands collaborative, future-driven and thoughtful leadership, especially given the increasing polarization in journalism.”

“People have a choice of media sources to access,” said Mackey, “but I feel public media offers a well-balanced, well-rounded approach. With any KPBS newscast, the viewer can be assured they are getting a story that offers all sides. The annual federal investment in public media equates to $1.40 per American. So, the amount is very small.”

Mackey also will be challenged to bridge a divide between longtime PBS viewers, many whom are older and white, while providing content that appeals to younger audiences from diverse ethic groups.

“Our public media industry needs to pay attention to how viewer expectations differ generationally,” she said. “We have a core audience with an older demographic, but we also need to adapt and create content on multiple platforms that are critical in reaching new, younger audiences.”

De la Torre said Mackey will preside over the station’s relationships with local and national government officials and look for ways to build on partnerships with other content providers in the region and university.

“Mackey’s reputation as an executive strategist is well respected, and she is known for her ability to transform organizations to fulfill the needs of both their teams and the public,” de la Torre said. “She is best positioned to continue advancing KPBS as a pillar of civic engagement and as a community connector.”

Illumina Taps Microsoft Veteran John Frank to Head PR

San Diego-based Illumina, a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, has announced the appointment of John Frank as chief public affairs officer. He will report to Francis deSouza, Illumina’s CEO.

Frank, who previously spent 20 years with Microsoft, will serve as Illumina’s top strategic adviser and decision maker on government affairs and public policy matters. He will have strategic oversight for Illumina’s global government affairs and public policy operations, corporate social responsibility efforts, all patient advocacy initiatives and the privacy and ethics office.

The goal of aggregating these functions under John’s leadership will be to combine and amplify the voices of Illumina’s critical advocacy groups to drive meaningful change for patients, the company said.

John Frank

“John’s deep, global government affairs and public policy experience are invaluable as we work to increase patients’ access to genomics around the world,” said deSouza. “As Illumina’s impact is increasingly felt in clinical healthcare, it is critically important to actively engage with key government and industry stakeholders on how the power and impact of genomics can better serve patients on a global scale.”

Frank will directly advise the company’s leadership, including its executive team and board of directors, offering expertise and ongoing assessment of the geopolitical and policy implications impacting Illumina’s business strategies, the company said in a statement.

“The face of healthcare is rapidly changing, and I’m delighted to become part of a company at the forefront of that change,” said Frank. “We are just beginning to understand the power of the human genome and the profound opportunities ahead. I’m looking forward to joining a group of leaders dedicated to making a difference worldwide.”

A veteran government affairs and public policy leader, Frank recently served as vice president of United Nations Affairs and International Organizations, reporting to Brad Smith, Microsoft president. He also led Microsoft’s European Union Government Affairs team and held numerous leadership positions focused on digital trust and security, digital crime, competition law and compliance issues. Frank began his career at Microsoft as a senior attorney in 1994, then led Microsoft’s legal and corporate affairs group for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Frank practiced law in San Francisco with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He holds a juris doctorate degree from Columbia Law School and a bachelor’s degree in public and international affairs from Princeton University.

San Diego Union-Tribune Journalism Internships Available

The San Diego Union-Tribune announced it will offer two internship programs for aspiring journalists.

College students are invited to apply for the newspaper’s 10-week-long Summer 2022 Internship Program, which begins in June. Students with diverse backgrounds or life experiences will gain experience as paid interns in reporting and writing, interviewing, researching, investigating and covering news from a community perspective.

Applications, including a resume with three references and 600-word personal essay, are due Sunday, May 1. Applicants will be selected by May 20.

In addition, high schools students are invited to apply for the 11th annual U-T Community Journalism Scholars Program. Six college-bound high school students from different cultural and economic backgrounds will be paid to learn about community journalism from June 16 to July 13. The deadline for the high school internship program is May 12.

For additional information on both internship opportunities, contact Luis Cruz, U-T community and public relations director, at

Health Care Communicators Will Present Finest Awards

The Health Care Communicators of Southern California, a professional networking group, will present its 2022 Finest Awards at an in-person luncheon and program starting at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, May 6, at The Point Hotel on Mission Bay, 1010 Santa Clara Place.

The awards will honor the best healthcare marketing and advertising campaigns and professionals across Southern California. Awards will be presented in such categories as public relations, advertising, digital marketing, multi-media, writing, publications, collateral and design and special events.

Cost to attend is $75 for members, $100 for nonmembers. Event registration ends Friday, April 29.

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