Tom Wilmer

Host of Journeys of Discovery

Host of the Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR digital media travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, Wilmer has also produced the on-air travel show for KCBX since 1989, and served as digital-media travel host for KRML in Carmel, Calif.

The Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer podcast is also featured on the NPR ONE mobile app, iTunes, Stitcher.com, player.fm (UK) a selected "Best Travel Roundup Podcast" and more than 20 other podcast channels around the world. Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer travel show covers a wide array of subjects including agriculture, culture, arts, science, history and cuisine.

In addition to winning the 2015 & 2013 Lowell Thomas Award--Best Radio Travel Show, Wilmer is the recipient of more than a dozen prestigious industry awards for radio and video, and the prestigious Tourism Australia/QANTAS "Henry Lawson Travel Writing Award" for the best North American feature about Australia as a travel destination.

Wilmer was Travel Editor for Central Coast Magazine in California from its inception through 2008, and Travel Editor at Las Vegas Magazine (1998 - 2003), he has also been a frequent contributor to numerous upscale lifestyle magazines including Tahoe Quarterly, and Arizona Foothills, and former Home Section columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and locally has produced features for New Times, The Tribune and other regional publications.

Author of three books: Romancing the Coast, California Coast Getaways, and Wine Seekers Guide to Livermore Valley. Wilmer has also produced numerous lifestyle magazine features and more than 1,500 newspaper travel feature stories. His Knight Ridder Syndicate travel features have appeared in more than 40 North American newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

His on-location shows have ranged from the Arctic to African safaris, in the wheelhouse of the Rainbow Warrior II, flying in WWII bombers, navigating a micro light above Victoria Falls, sailing around Grenada, hiking through the wilds of Malaysian jungles and exploring remote atolls and isles throughout the South Pacific. His feature, recorded live at Harland & Wolfe Shipyards in Belfast Northern Ireland, celebrating the centenary of the launch of the Titanic was the recipient of a Best Travel award from Outdoor Writers Association of California.

Recent video/audio Awards:

  • First Place Award for Best Short Video- Pinnacles National Park 2015.
  • Wilmer and his video partner, Simo Nylander produced a video for National Park Service's Alcatraz Cruises 2015
  • In-depth video audio series for the Morro Bay National Marine Estuary Winner of 2015 "Best Outdoor Video"
  • Award from Outdoor Writers Association of California, along with "Best Short Video" award for Morro Bay Estuary Water Quality feature
  • Amgen California bike race commercial 2016
  • First Place "Best Outdoor Radio Feature" Saving Cecil's recorded live on location in Botswana
  • Second Place "Best Outdoor Radio Series" for Audubon Rowe Sandhill Cranes, First Federally Funded Wild Mustang Refuge, Heartland Shooting Range Grand Island, Nebraska. Awarded by Outdoor Writers Association of California

Professional Membership:

  • National Press Club, Washington D.C. (www.press.org)
  • Vice President (SF) Bay Area Travel Writers (www.batw.org)
  • Board of Directors Outdoor Writers Association of California (www.owac.org) 
Solar panels and windmills help to power the green Hybrid Alcatraz Clipper
Thomas Wilmer

Hornblower Cruises CEO, Terry MacRae advocates for building a network of high-speed ferries to alleviate urban gridlock. Alcatraz Cruises launched its Hornblower Hybrid Fleet in 2009--the first hybrid ferry fleet in North America and one of the first in the world. The Hybrid Fleet uses power generated by ten‐foot‐tall wind turbines and photovoltaic solar arrays covering the awning on the top-decks.

Greater Prairie Chickens doing their dance in the fields surrounding McCook, Nebraska
Thomas Wilmer / Thomas Wilmer

Carol Schlegel says, “They’re whimsical, charming and fascinating—the elusive Greater Prairie Chickens strut their stuff in a spectacular show every Spring in the countryside around McCook. Early morning birders head out on weekends in late March and April to observe the mating dance. Schlegel’s Chicken Dance Tours includes an orientation the evening before viewing. Transportation, the viewing experience and breakfast are included in the tour fee.

Japantown, located in downtown San Jose has been a vital part of Santa Clara Valley’s history since the 1890s. The insular Japantown neighborhood provided the Japanese with a safe-harbor place to shop and socialize. Within two months of the onset of WWII, Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 forced all Japanese to pack their bags and relocate to internment camps far from the Pacific Coast. A conversation with Japantown resident, 94 year-0ld Jimi Yamaichi recalls when he and his family were ordered to report to the San Jose State University Gymnasium and life in the internment camp.

On February 19th 1942 FDR signed Executive order 9066 requiring the relocation and internment of all California coastal residents of Japanese descent. Historian Jim Gregory, author of WWII Arroyo Grande shares the sorrows and triumphs of the dramatic period in Arroyo Grande history—a time when more than forty percent of the high school student body was of Japanese ancestry.

Fremont Theater downtown San Luis Obispo anchor venue for 2017 SLO FILM FEST
San Luis Obispo International Film Festival

A conversation with San Luis Obispo International Film Festival Director, Wendy Eidson. A teaser of the March 14-19 festival events includes Josh Brolin recipient of the 2017 King Vidor Award; St. Patrick’s Day Surf Night featuring the premier of Between Land and Sea—a year in the life of an Irish surf town, and a tribute to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher includes a conversation with Todd Fisher.

 

Iconic Nebraska windmill
Thomas Wilmer

The Knight Museum is a showcase of life in Northwestern Nebraska’s Sandhills country from prehistoric days, through pioneer life, the advent of the railroad and much more. Join Museum Director Becci Thomas as she shares fascinating insights about the museum, as well as life in the town of Alliance, sometimes likened to Mayberry RFD.

Thousands of migrating Sandhill Cranes awake to a day of foraging in the Platte River Valley en route to a summer in Canada and the Arctic
Thomas Wilmer

Correspondent, Tom Wilmer reports from Gibbon, Nebraska where he visits with Bill Taddicken, Director of the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center Rowe Sanctuary on the outskirts of Kearney, Nebraska.

Every year, like clockwork, from late February through early April, more 500,000 Sandhill Cranes descend on Nebraska’s Platte River Valley during their annual northbound migration to Canada and the Arctic tundra.

Orca breaching
NOAA

A conversation with Donna Sandstrom Executive Director of Seattle based The Whale Trail. The organization’s primary mission is identifying outstanding land based whale and orca viewing spots. More than 60 educational signs have been installed along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia through Southern California. The Whale Trail’s most recent installation project added informative signage along the California Central Coast.

Wholesale buyers inspect and bid on fresh tuna at Honolulu's Pier 38
Thomas Wilmer

In the heart of Honolulu Harbor, directly across from the container port, there’s a large, utilitarian, metal building adjacent to the docks at Pier 38 where the long line Tuna boats tie up. 

It’s five a.m., and we’re waiting outside for the 5:30 bell that announces the commencement of United Fishing Agency’s daily wholesale auction— it’s the only one of its kind between Tokyo and the East Coast.

Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Thomas Wilmer

Western Nebraska is graced with tall sandstone bluffs and outcroppings. Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard, Nebraska includes an interpretive center where visitors learn about the trials and tribulations of the early pioneers. We’ll join Loren Pospisil who shares his insights in to Nebraska’s most recognizable visual icon of Western migration.

The Great Platte Archway freespans above Interstate 80 in Kearney, Nebraska
Thomas Wilmer

Every spring 80 percent of the world’s Sandhill Cranes descend on the Platte River Valley for a refueling stop before continuing their annual northward migration to Canada and the Arctic. A visit with Roger Jasnoch, Director of the Kearney Visitors Bureau about experiencing the crane migration and other Kearney attractions.

Lincoln County Historical Museum windmill
Thomas Wilmer

The Wild West lives on in North Platte, Nebraska. History comes alive at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park. David Fudge, NEBRSAKAlandDays’ Executive Director shares a taste of the annual event that includes the legendary Buffalo Bill Rodeo, proclaimed as America’s oldest rodeo. Fort Cody Trading Post is one of America’s last fee standing, family-owned roadside attractions. Fort Cody owner, Chuck Henline, reminisces about the family owned business where a one-headed calf, tomahawks and kitschy gifts are super popular items with the kids. 

Booker T. Washington
National Park Service

  

The Booker T. Washington National Monument near Hardy, Virginia (20 miles from Roanoke) is situated on the long vanished tobacco farm where Washington was born as a slave in 1856. The site features replicas of the log frame buildings and gardens from the days of Washington’s childhood. The National Park Service interpretive center showcases where his life and career as an orator, educator, and African American leader.   

Krecik Ranch buffalo Niobrara, Nebraska
Thomas Wilmer

Buffalo meet has approximately 35 percent more protein and half the calories of beef, and there’s only 1.8 grams of fat per 3 oz serving, compared to 8.7 grams in beef. We'll visit with Stacy Krecik Miller at the Krecik Elk and Buffalo Ranch in Niobrara. Then we'll meet Dave Hutchinson who's been raising organic grass-fed buffalo in the Sandhills near Rose, Nebraska for more than 30 years. 

KCBX

Willy Mays, Jackie Robinson, Bessie Smith—"The Empress of the Blues", Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, Samuel L. Jackson, Dr. Emma Wheeler, and pro football player Reggie White—they all have one thing in common, and that’s their connection with the Tennessee town of Chattanooga.

Engine room telegraphs at Door County Maritime Museum
Jason Lopez

Boat building has been a part of Sturgeon Bay’s fabric since the 1830s. During the first and second World Wars, hundreds of Naval and support vessels, including the legendary PT Boat were built here. In addition to boat building and repair, Sturgeon Bay is also a safe harbor during the midst of winter for the 1,000 foot-long lake freighters. The Door County Maritime Museum chronicles and showcases the region’s nautical history. In addition to engaging displays and artifacts, the museum also maintains the fully restored 100 year-old MV John Purvis tugboat.

Join Adam Gronke the Maritime Museum’s Curator.

Qupé Vineyards

When winemaker Bob Lindquist started Qupé Vineyards 35 years ago, there were only four California wineries producing Syrah. Today there are more than 75 wineries in Santa Barbara County alone producing Syrah. Join Lindquist as he shares his passion as a winemaker and discover why the California Central Coast’s cool coastal climate is ideally suited for producing award-winning Rhone-style wines.  

Taos Pueblo Catholic Church
Thomas Wilmer

Situated a mile from the village of Taos, New Mexico, The Taos Pueblo is the only Native American community designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a National Historic Landmark. The Pueblo’s two multi-story residential complexes are likely the most photographed scenes in the entire American Southwest. Come along for a walkabout with Ms. Spruce, the Pueblo’s Tourism Director and her assistant.  

Robin White National Park Service Superintendent at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
National Park Service

When I stopped in to visit with Robin White, Superintendent at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, our conversation quickly led to tears. When I interviewed Ms. White a couple years ago, the focus was on the September 1957 events at Little Rock Central High, and lessons learned. On this visit, we changed the focus. I said, let’s talk about lessons learned, but more importantly, lessons not learned in the intervening six decades. 

Diego Rivera's frescos are not to be missed highlight at the Detroit Institute of Art
Thomas Wilmer

The Detroit Institute of Art has been an integral part of Motor City’s fabric since 1885. Today the world-class museum has turned itself inside out by bringing art to the neighborhoods. DIA also provides free school busses for classroom museum visits. The 658,000 square-foot DIA and its 100 galleries is regarded as one of America’s six premier art museums. A visit with the Institute Director, Salvador Salort Pons and Pam Marcel, Public Relations Director.

Ice shanties at Wendt's on Lake Winnebago
Julie Henning

Join correspondent Julie Henning in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin for the opening weekend of the 2014 sturgeon-spearing season. Replacing buffalo hides with propane-heated ice shanties and modern conveniences, the thrill of the hunt is the same. 

Du Fu's restored 8th century cottage
Thomas Wilmer

In the heart of the Chengdu metropolis of 14 million souls--one step through an archway just off a main arterial and the urban cacophony is silenced inside the tranquil Du Fu Cao Tang 24-acre park. Lush bamboo forests, towering trees and ponds serve as soothing backdrops for the numerous shrines honoring Chinese kings, princesses, ministers, generals, and poets from the past 1,800 years. 

Winemaker and grape grower Vic Roberts at his Templeton Gap Victor Hugo Winery
Thomas Wilmer

  

Vic Roberts has been producing wine since shortly after graduating from U.C. Davis in 1979. He started his winemaking career on the Central Coast at Creston Cellars in 1982. While still working for Creston Cellars, Roberts started growing grapes on his own land in the heart of the legendary Paso Robles AVA in 1985--and the Victor Hugo Winery brand was born. The lexicon of Victor Hugo varietals include Chardonnay, Viogner, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and the five Bordeaux Classic reds—Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Come along and join the conversation with Vic Roberts as he shares his passion for crafting award-winning wines.

Back in the latter 18th century, black players often played on baseball teams alongside whites. But segregation took an ugly turn in the dawning days of the 20th century and blacks were barred through Jim Crow laws. 

Electric Vehicle charging station in Door County, Wisconsin
Door County CVB

Jack Moneypenny, President of the Door County Visitors Bureau came up with a brilliant but simple plan that stimulates tourism while simultaneously minimizing the carbon footprint. Join Moneypenny as he shares his electric charging station vision that now serves as a model showcase for the future of ecologically sustainable regional tourism.      

Al Johnson's Swedish Restuarant waitresses (1974)
Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant has been a family affair for more than 65 years. Scandinavian faire, from Swedish pancakes, to limpa bread, lingnonberries, and meatballs are house specialties. The structure is classic Old-World Norwegian design. Pre-built in Norway, the timbers were numbered, dismantled and shipped to Sister Bay on the Door Peninsula back in 1973. 

Vicki Wilson teaches Coffee 1-A in her Coffee College at Door County Coffee and Tea Company
Thomas Wilmer

A visit with Vicki Wilson, founder of Wisconsin’s Door County Coffee and Tea Company. Ms. Wilson’s business, in addition to serving more than 100 distinctive freshly roasted coffees in her café, also does a thriving internet business across America, along with private label distribution to businesses such as Bed, Bath & Beyond.

preparing to head out ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay
Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with JJ Malvitz, the owner of JJ’s Guide Service for an exploration of the culture of Sturgeon Bay ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay in Door County, Wisconsin.  

Mention the name Nashville, Tennessee, and the first things that comes to mind are invariable music, musicians, and songwriters.   Nashville is known far and wide as Music City, but it’s also the home to a full-size exact replica of the Parthenon in Athen
Nashville Parks & Recreation

Nashville is known far and wide as Music City, but it’s also the home to a full-size exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens. How this incredible architectural gem came to be dates back to the pioneer days when Nashville was dubbed the Athens of the South due to its passion for education and the arts.

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