Tom Karlo
Tom Karlo

Since retiring in December 2020, Tom Karlo said he has been enjoying life, splitting relaxing time between homes in San Diego and Lake Tahoe and spending time with grandchildren and Julie, his wife of nearly 50 years

Karlo spent his entire 47-year career at KPBS, San Diego’s public broadcasting station headquartered at San Diego State University, including the last 12 years as general manager.

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Today, he admits his plans for life-after-KPBS did not include rescuing another National Public Radio station from financial ruin.

“I was doing fine, enjoying my retirement, but then the phone rang,” Karlo told Times of San Diego.

The call in mid-July was from J. Luke Wood, newly appointed president of Sacramento State University. Karlo had met Wood, a former SDSU professor, when both served on SDSU’s President’s Cabinet.

Prior to heading Sacramento State, his alma mater, Wood had been serving at SDSU as VP for student affairs and chief diversity officer. In 2017, Wood became the first Black faculty member to be named a distinguished professor.

“I was ready to congratulate my friend on his new job,” said Karlo. “I’ve been always impressed with Luke’s professionalism and maturity at such a young age. I’ve joked that if I had more than three children (two sons and a daughter), I would want Luke as my fourth.”

However, Wood had something else on his mind other than accepting congratulations from Karlo.

“Luke said he needed my help with CapRadio,” said Karlo. “So, I drove over from Lake Tahoe and met with him and others on his staff on two different occasions. I’ve always admired CapRadio for their news coverage of Sacramento politics. CapRadio has been a guiding light for all of us in California, keeping us informed on what was happening in state government. At KPBS, we carried a lot of their stories. They have a prestigious name in Northern California.”

With studios on the Sacramento State University campus, Capital Public Radio operates two NPR-affiliated radio stations, including news-talk KXJZ-FM (90.9) and jazz-and-classical music KXPR-FM (88.9). CapRadio operates under the university’s broadcasting license, a relationship that’s similar to KPBS licensing agreement with SDSU. CapRadio also operates North State Public Radio, two stations owned by Chico State.

With a total of seven FM frequencies and six FM translators that repeat the signals for the news and music stations, CapRadio serves California’s capital region, Central Valley and Sierra Nevada as the public-supported alternative to for-profit media.

“At the meetings, I was informed about the extent of CapRadio’s financial problems. A lot of money was owed to a lot of vendors. There was about $3 million in unpaid bills from the past two fiscal years,” Karlo said.

“There was several years of outstanding rent owed to Sacramento State. Operating reserves were paying for loans on construction of a new downtown headquarters that was a year behind schedule. There were basically no reserves. The finances were severe.”

In addition, three costly construction projects combined with falling revenue had pushed the nonprofit media organization to the financial brink. One of the projects, a tower relocation project, has been in the works for more than 15 years.

“They needed help, and I felt like I still have some gas left in my tank,” said Karlo. “I will always be committed to maintaining the overall mission of public broadcasting and public media and increasing the value of public media.”

Since Aug. 15, Karlo has been serving as CapRadio’s interim general manager. He replaced Jun Reina, who had been at CapRadio for 16 years, most of the time as the station’s chief financial officer. Former employees have told Sacramento news outlets that Reina pushed for three costly capital projects now considered as the root of the station’s current financial uncertainty.

“My goal from day one has been to get a handle on the operating budget, balance the budget and find a level playing field from where CapRadio can go forward,” said Karlo. “My focus is not on the past, an upcoming audit will take care of that. Instead, I’m trying to find our footing and stabilize the situation so CapRadio can move forward.”

Karlo is well qualified for the task of stabilizing CapRadio. He led KPBS through the 1989 recession, the post-9/11 stock market crash, 2008 financial collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. Near the end of his career, he led a three-year capital campaign that raised nearly $70 million.

He has served on the PBS board of directors, Public Television Major Market ‘group and the California Public Television board of directors. He was honored in 2016 as the PBS Development Professional of the Year. In 2022, he was named to the KPBS Hall of Fame.

Shortly after accepting the interim position, Karlo initiated staff layoffs.

Twelve CapRadio employees, roughly 12% of its workforce, were laid off and three additional workers were given a final employment date. Three fourths of those affected were part-time employees, a CapRadio statement said. Before the layoffs, CapRadio had 102 positions.

In addition, four music shows were cancelled. The shows, which aired on Saturdays, included “Mick Martin’s Blues Party,” “Hey, Listen,” “K-ZAP on CapRadio” and “At the Opera.”

As expected, laid-off on-air hosts of the music shows willingly shared with local news media outlets their shock at being expendable. National programming has replaced the canceled music shows. 

Nick Brunner, who had worked at the station for 16 years and hosted “Hey, Listen” since 2016, said he wasn’t able to say goodbye to local musicians, industry insiders or listeners. “Now that dries up immediately thanks to this incredibly poorly thought-out, reprehensible action on behalf of Tom Karlo and the CapRadio board,” said Brunner. 

Sean Bianco, who had hosted the opera show for 25 years, told the Sacramento Bee, “I’m sad for my listeners. I’m sad for Sacramento.”

Karlo called the layoffs “heartbreaking,” but emphasized the scale of the financial problems.

“Anytime you make programming changes, it’s heartbreaking and it upsets constituents of those programs,” Karlo said. “Before the layoffs, we looked at ratings, data and demographics. It was a difficult decision, but we viewed it as necessary to carry out the station’s public service mission during a financially challenging time.”

“Music is important, but our anchor, what really makes CapRadio, is the news and public affairs programming,” he said. “We were deeply saddened to say farewell to dedicated and talented staff members. But, at the end of the day, CapRadio will become stronger.”

Karlo says he is looking forward to the end of his tenure with CapRadio.

“The board of directors is currently looking for a permanent leader to make sure that CapRadio continues to provide quality, fact-based, trusted, unbiased journalism and high-quality music and arts programming,” Karlo said. “I don’t plan to stay here more than a couple more months. My hope is that a new president and general manager will be appointed by the end of this calendar year, or early next year. Then, I will return to retirement life.”

KGTV Studios on Route 94

San Diego’s Channel 10 Celebrates 70th Anniversary

KGTV-TV Channel 10 recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. The station went on the air as KFSD-TV on Sept. 13, 1953.

The station was launched by Airfan Corp., which also owned radio station KFSD, an NBC Radio Network affiliate at the time.

Channel 10’s KFSD call letters supposedly referred to as “First in San Diego,” although KFMB-TV was San Diego’s first TV station, launched May 16, 1949, followed by XETV-TV Channel 6, launched in early 1953. Channel 10 is San Diego’s third-oldest TV station.

In 1957, the station moved from Enterprise Street near Pacific Highway to its present location at Highway 94 and 47th Street.

In its early days, Channel 10 featured newscasts as well as talk and variety programming. In 1961, “The Regis Philbin Show” started a four-year run.

The station was sold to Time-Life Broadcasting in 1962, and then to McGraw Hill a decade later. In 2012, KGTV was acquired by E.W. Scripps Media, the current owner. KGTV has been an ABC affiliate since 1976.

More information on Channel 10’s history can be found at

After Leaving San Diego, Melissa Forrest Joins Cumulus Atlanta

After spending nearly 10 years as head of iHeartMedia’s cluster of eight radio stations in San Diego, as well as overseeing iHeart stations in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Cumulus Media has named Melissa Forrest as VP and market manager for Cumulus Atlanta.

Melissa Forrest
Melissa Forrest

In September 2012, Forrest relocated from Atlanta to San Diego when the iHeart company was called Clear Channel Communications (Clear Channel changed its name to iHeartMedia in September 2014).

Before San Diego, Forrest spent four years (2008-2012) with iHeart in Atlanta. Before Atlanta, Forrest held market leadership roles with Entercom in Austin and Seattle (2004-2008).

Forrest left iHeart San Diego in July 2022 to become a consultant. At the time, Forrest told Times of San Diego, “I’m extremely proud of the culture and success we’ve created over the past almost 10 years. I will be a phone call away for the team here, but I’m also pursuing some long-held personal goals.” Her market manager role was filled by Noreen Ippolito.

“Melissa is a high energy leader, with a track record of transforming business organizations into highly successful operations,” said Dave Milner, president of operations with Cumulus Media.

Forrest, who has worked in radio sales since 2002, said in a Cumulus statement, “I have embraced many markets during my career, but I look forward to returning home to Atlanta. The opportunity to work with Dave and the entire Cumulus Atlanta team makes this homecoming even more meaningful.”

For multiple years, Forrest has been named by Radio Ink, an industry trade media outlet, as one of the Best Managers in Radio and one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Radio.

Cumulus Atlanta operates four radio stations, including WKHX-FM (New Country 101.FIVE), Classic Alternative WNNX-FM (99X), Top 40 WWWQ-FM (Q99.7) and Classic Hip Hop OG 97.9 (WWWQ-H3), a digital, wireless music radio station.

San Diego AMA Hosts ‘Art of Marketing’ Conference

The American Marketing Association San Diego chapter will host “Art of Marketing: The 360 Marketer Conference” from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, at the Knauss Center of Business Education, University of San Diego, 5998 Alcalá Park. A welcome reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Mingei International Museum.

The day-long conference will feature 30 keynotes and speakers, panels and fireside chats designed to explore the knowledge versatile and adaptive marketers need to navigate the complex, ever-changing marketing landscape. Four marketing educational tracks are titled the Experiential Marketer, the People Marketer, the Tech Marketer, and the Insightful Marketer.  More than 300 marketing professionals are expected to attend.

The keynote speakers will include: Christopher Connolly, chief marketing officer for the San Diego Padres; Amy Winhoven, head of global insights, HP; and Dan Khabie, co-founder and partner of CourtAvenue.

Cost to attend is $199 for members, $299 for nonmembers and $99 for students. For more information, visit