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) 
LA County's WaterBus in Marina del Rey
Hornblower Cruises

LA County’s WaterBus is and ideal way to experience Marina del Rey harbor—the second largest man-  made yacht harbor in the world. 

Sugarland Cellars in downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Thomas Wilmer

Jonathan Ball with the Rocky Top Wine Trail in Eastern Tennessee talks about the trail that includes wineries in Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg

Sugarlands Distillery

Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Tennessee uses traditional corn and rye, but infuses their “Shine” with an array of flavors, including dark chocolate, butter pecan, and apple bacon. A conversation with Kris “Tugboat”  Killingsworth, Tastings Manager at Sugarlands about the trendy new world of Shine.

Tennessee Whiskey Trail

The new Tennessee Whiskey Trail is made up of approximately 30 distilleries across the state. Tennessee distilleries range from small, boutique operations such as Corsair and Greenbrier in Nashville to legendary distilleries like Jack Daniels.

Correspondent Tom Wilmer accompanies Robin Tierney onstage at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Ryman Auditorium

The Ryman Auditorium, revered as the “Mother Church” of country music, has been an anchor of the Nashville music scene for more than a century. The Country Music Hall of Fame in NashvilleTennessee is the Mother Ship where the entire history of country music is showcased in the 360,000 square-foot multi-story facility.

Franciscan Frontiersman book cover
University of Oklahoma Press

Cayucos resident Robert Kittle talks with correspondent Tom Wilmer about his new book Franciscan Frontiersmen—how Three Adventurers Charted the West, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Sugarlands Winery in downtown Gatlinburg
Thomas Wilmer

An overview of cool things to do and see in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee--the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hornblower Cruises M.V. Entertainer Marina del Ray
Thomas Wilmer

Marina del Rey in LA County is one of the largest man made marinas in the world. It’s the home of multi-million dollar luxury yachts to a flotilla of sailboats and powerboats, and funky live-aboards.

Hollywood and its stars have maintained a love affair with Marina del Rey for decades, not only to sip and savor and hide out--but to utilize the locale as a film location for untold movies and TV shows.

Historic Tennessee State Historical Commission plaque honoring Royal Studios
Thomas Wilmer

Boo Mitchell carries on the legacy of his father, Willie Mitchell, as a producer of chart-topping hits.

One of Boo Mitchell’s proudest achievements was taking home the “Record of the Year” Grammy in 2016—the first time in the history of the Grammy Awards that a Memphis-made record garnered the award.

The Outpost at Pickwick Dam, Tennessee
Thomas Wilmer

From a tiny, run down bait shop when Jay Harrison and his family purchased the business five years ago, the Outpost at Pickwick Dam, Tennessee has grown from zero employees to more than 30 today. The Outpost now includes a general store, a super popular restaurant, and an adjacent inn. Central to Harrison’s business model is to serve as a faith-based enterprise where his core mission is to hire and help employees seeking a fresh start in life.

Iwo Jima Memorial
Thomas Wilmer

A visit with the United States Marine Corps Historian at the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps located in Triangle, Virginia, adjacent to Quantico Marina Corps base.

Thomas Wilmer

 Join correspondent Tom Wilmer reporting from Detroit, Michigan at Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers. Wilmer visits with Ron Colangelo, Vice President Communications for the Detroit Tigers in the press box.

Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee
Casey Jones Village

Casey Jones Village in Jackson, Tennessee, tucked in the heart of the fabled Music Highway, is actually an historic village with everything from an old-fashioned country store to an Antebellum mansion. There’s a museum showcasing the story of legendary train engineer Casey Jones, but the anchor of the village is the restaurant that specializes in traditional Southern comfort food—with a twist.

M.V. Zumbrota companionway
Thomas Wilmer

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Captain Chuck Myers aboard the historic M.V. Zumbrota, home ported today in Marina del Rey harbor.

M.V. Entertainer home ported in Marina del Rey, California
Thomas Wilmer

Marina del Rey is in some respects a Southland best-kept-secret, as it’s often overshadowed by the glitz of Hollywood and the buzz of Disneyland. 

Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Thomas Wilmer

Back in the 1960s Stax Records served as an incubator of the Memphis, Tennessee Soul Music genre.

Join Tim Sampson Communications Director for the Soulsville Foundation where he talks about the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the genesis of “Soulsville”, the astounding Stax Music Academy, and Soulsville Charter School.

St. Martin's Press

Cayucos resident Franz Wisner got dumped at the altar…then turned it into a career. Author of the New York Times bestselling book Honeymoon with My Brother  and How the World Makes Love, Wisner has shared his stories on Oprah, the Today Show, NPR, Vanity Fair, USA Today, and media outlets worldwide. 

Karen Bentz surveys finishing touches on the new Anakeesta mountaintop experience in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Thomas Wilmer

Anakeesta marks a new dimension in Gatlinburg, Tennessee-- a popular base camp for vacationers who have come to these parts to experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park since the 1930s. The Anakeesta adventure begins with a high-tech combination gondola, chairlift base station in the heart of town. Atop the mountain is Firefly Village, a zip line course, and treetop canopy walk 40 to 60 feet above the forest floor. Join visionary partners Karen and Bob Bentz.

Sun Studio Memphis, Tennessee
Thomas Wilmer

Known fondly as the birthplace of Rock & Roll, Sun Studio opened its doors as Memphis Recording Service in 1950.

It was Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats’ “Rocket 88” Sun Records recording in 1951 that goes down in history as the first Rock & Roll single. A litany of legends came to Sun Studio to record and make music history—cats like Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, B.B. King and Johnny Cash.

This is the place where Elvis recorded his first single “That’s All Right” in 1954. And Sun is still recording music, in the same location today, in the same studio, using lots of the original tube-technology equipment.

The Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee--frozen in time
Thomas Wilmer

March 3rd 1968 Martin Luther King delivered his last speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.

6:01 p.m., April 4th 1968--Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Loraine Motel in Memphis. Twenty three years later, the National Civil Rights Museum was unveiled and it has continued unabated to showcase and teach the history and legacy of civil rights--from the arrival of the first slaves on the shores of America to lynchings, sit-ins, the Freedom Riders, Rosa Parks in Birmingham, Brown Vs. Board of Education, and the perpetuation of Jim Crow today.

Join Faith Morris, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tennessee Safari Park

Tennessee Safari Park receives 200,000 visitors annually. It’s a family affair in more ways than one, as owner John Conley’s grandfather birthed the park in 1958. What started with a monkey ordered from Sears has grown to include a lexicon of wild, exotic animals from African warthogs to Giraffe, Bison, and White Bearded Wildebeests. Join John Conley as he shares his passion for the family run Safari Park, located on the Music Highway route between Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee.

Saint Mark Choir performs at Wildwood Park in Little Rock, Arkansas
Thomas Wilmer

Saint Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas raised the roof when their gospel choir recently performed at Little Rock's Wildwood Park. Join correspondent Tom Wilmer for a visit with Darius Nelson, Pastor of Music and Arts, followed by 20 minutes of some powerfully awesome gospel singing. Saint Mark's choir has performed at the White House as well as around Arkansas.  

Buffalo River
Thomas Wilmer

The Buffalo National River, situated in Northern Arkansas is free flowing for more than 135 miles. It’s one of North America’s last remaining undammed rivers.

Join correspondent Tom Wilmer on the banks of the Buffalo River for a conversation with National Park Ranger, Joyce Umbach, and Ben Milburn the owner and operator of Buffalo River Outfitters.

M.V. Mojo crashed in to a monster wave at the Morro Bay Harbor mouth January 28, 1978 sustaining major damage and injuries
Scott J. Redd

When Terry MacRae was a student at Cal Poly State University back in the early 1970’s he had no clue that the University’s learn by doing model would lead him on a life journey where he would eventually become the CEO of Hornblower Cruises. Considered the greenest fleet in America, Hornblower employs wind and solar technology and operates the largest small passenger-vessel operation in the country.   

MacRae shares his passion for the untapped potential of waterborne ferry transportation as a viable commuting option for not only San Francisco Bay but around America.

Elvis at Graceland
Thomas Wilmer

A journey of discovery at the brand new Elvis Presley’s Memphis Entertainment Complex and 400-room Guest House with Gary Hahn, Vice President of Marketing and Media for Elvis Presley Enterprises in Memphis, Tennessee.

Tina Turner's old one room school house, and adjacent home of blues legend Sleepy John Estes
Thomas Wilmer

Come along for a stop-off along the Music Highway in Brownsville, midway between Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. We’ll visit with the town's first elected African-American Mayor, Bill Rawls. Sonia Outlaw-Clark Executive Director of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center takes us on a walking tour of the Tina Turner Museum, and adjacent, fabled bluesman, Sleepy John Estes’s cottage where he was rediscovered in the 1970s.  

Dr. John Freeman
Thomas Wilmer

As a young man, Dr. John Freeman spent 10 years as a medical missionary in Thailand. He even helped build a new Bridge over the River Kwai.

Freeman subsequently settled in Alamo, Tennessee.

In addition to working as an ER doc, he dedicated the next two decades relocating and reconstructing pioneer log cabins, an old church and more than 18 other historic structures--including a circa-1910 cotton gin and moonshiner’s shed--on his farm.

John Wayne aboard the Wild Goose
Hornblower Cruises

If Hollywood icon, John Wayne were still alive he’d be 110 years old this month--but the revered yacht the Wild Goose a converted WWII minesweeper lives on, home ported in Newport Beach, California.

Join Tom Wilmer for a journey of discovery aboard the yacht Wild Goose.

In celebration of John Wayne’s birthday there’s an assortment of festivities and special cruises offered to the public.

Carnegie Center for Arts and History in Jackson, Tennessee
Thomas Wilmer

Judy Ranne says that Music is the soul of the South. West Tennessee produced an abundance of legendary iconic musicians, and tunes such as Carl Perkin’s “Blue Suede Shoes”. Ranne shares the region's musical tradition that was long intertwined with gospel, and of course the Grand Ole Opry radio show. Come along and join Ms. Ranne as she talks about life as a farmer’s daughter back in the 1950s and how sharecroppers and spiritual music helped to propel the evolution of Tennessee’s heartland music.

Memphis Music Hall of Fames shines in the night
Tom Wilmer

A visit at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Museum with Executive Director John Doyle in downtown  Memphis, Tennessee. The museum showcases the story of Memphis Music and its century long legacy as a multicultural birthplace of American Music.

 

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