Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer

1st and 2nd Wednesdays during Issues & Ideas (1-2:00 p.m.)

Tom Wilmer’s Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR Podcast, recorded live on-location across America and around the world- showcases the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts.

We cover nouns and verbs—people, places, things, and action—everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls, and interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.

Traffic Jam and Snug

Midtown Detroit’s Traffic Jam and Snug restaurant has remained as an extremely popular dining destination and an industry trendsetter for more than 50 years. 

Food Shift food recovery in Oakland CA
Food Shift

Dana Frasz, Founder and Director of San Francisco Bay Area based Food Shift shares her non-profit's partnerships with hotels, corporations, grocery chains and more to reduce food waste.

Dana talks about Food Shift’s primary mission, its incredible success stories, and the invaluable relationship with Jo Licata, Hilton San Francisco Union Square’s Community Projects Manager. 

Barry Stenger, Executive Director St. Anthony's San Francisco
St. Anthony's Foundation

Barry Stenger, Executive Director of St. Anthony’s Foundation, founded by the Franciscan Order in San Francisco 66 years ago to assist the needs of the homeless and low income citizens.

Stenger talks about the quarter century partnership with Hilton San Francisco Union Square to help the homeless and underserved.

Jo Locata, has worked fulltime at the Hilton Hotel San Francisco Union Square for the past two decades as the hotel’s fulltime Community Projects Manager. 

Mary Risley in her cooking school kitchen in San Francisco
Food Runners

Mary Risley, founder of San Francisco based Food Runners, talks about the grassroots organization that provides 15,000 meals every week to low income and homeless citizens. Every week, more than 200 volunteers pick up leftover food from hotels such as the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Westin St. Francis, and Park Central, grocery stores, Starbucks, tech and law firms, schools, bakeries, restaurants, caterers, and more. 

Tourists from around the world love See Rock City's family style activities
Tom Wilmer

Nestled on a ridge-top with dramatic vistas spanning seven states, Rock City started in the late 1920s as a Ma and Pa miniature golf course nestled in a garden setting. Barns across the Midwest were painted with large black and White “See Rock City” during the 1930s to spur tourists--today more than 100 barns are still adorned. Tourists now come in droves from around the world to savor See Rock City's Fairyland Caverns, Mother Goose Village, shops, and restaurants,live musical performances, and dramatic vistas from Lover Leap.

Abalone live in the tanks with fresh seawater and seaweed for sustainance
Thomas Wilmer

Join Brad Buckley manager of the Abalone Farm for an insider’s look at the world of abalone aquaculture. The Abalone Farm, located on a bluff top above the Pacific Ocean six miles north of Cayucos, California produces approximately 50 percent of the abalone served in restaurants and sold in fresh fish shops around America. From seed to market is a patient four-year process, which partly explains why abalone is often sold by the ounce.  

Admiral Thomas Fargo
United States Navy

A conversation with four star admiral Thomas Fargo about the 75th Pearl Harbor Remembrance events on Oahu

Life in Hawaii during WWII with Bishop Museum historian DeSoto Brown

National Park Service Historian Daniel Martinez's 30-year WWII and December 7th odyssey

Pearl Harbor's Pacific Aviation Museum--a visit with historian and the executive director

Costa Rica as viewed by kids--with 14 year-old podcast host Sophia Aquino

From darkness to light--Costa Rica's Museo de los Niños in San Jose, Costa Rica

Robert Luke
Thomas Wilmer

Alcatraz ex-con recalls a "whiff of fresh mown grass

Former Alcatraz guard George DeVincenzi recalls time on "The Rock"

Former Alcatraz clergyman Father Bush recalls his time on "The Rock"

A conversation with NPS Public Affairs Officer Alexandra Picavet about experiencing Alcatraz

Golden Gate National Recreation Area NPS Superintendent Chris Lehnertz

Pacific Wildlife Care

Pacific Wildlife Care is situated in a non-descript building behind the old PG&E power plant in Morro Bay, California. But, anywhere wounded or endangered wildlife are found on the Central Coast they are just a phone call away from rescue and rehabilitation. The organization rescues more than 3,000 wild animals, representing more than 200 different species annually.

Acoma Catholic Church where Native American ceremonies are conducted along with traditional Catholic services
Thomas Wilmer

Sky City is located atop a 367 foot-tall sandstone monolith. Continuously inhabited since 1150 A.D., there is no running water or electricity at Acoma in New Mexico. Located off interstate 40 an hour and a half west of Albuquerque, tours are offered to the public daily. Acoma’s Sky City Cultural Center/Haak’u Museum includes fascinating interpretive displays and is the meeting spot for joining guided tours of the pueblo—a National Trust for Historic Preservation registered historic site.

Sandhill Cranes flying over Nebraska en route to Canada for the summer
Thomas Wilmer

Sandhill Cranes migrate north every spring and make a stop in Central Nebraska. Shows such as CBS Sunday Morning have covered their flight in previous seasons. Join Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Associate Producer, Melissa Corbin as she shares her take on this fascinating rite of spring during her visit to Rowe Sanctuary on the banks of the Platte River. 

Quebec City skyline
Office du tourisme de Québec

A conversation with Richard Séguin representing Quebec City Tourism. Séguin shares insights about Quebec City's past and present in the Canadian city with a definite French Flair. Quebec City' modern roots date from French exploration in the 15th century--and the  establishment of Quebec City in 1608.  


Tall Ship Jeanie Johnston in port

The famine ship Jeanie Johnston was built in  1848 In Quebec as a freighter. She made 16 trans-Atlantic passages carrying more than 2,500 passengers. The ship is revered in the annals of the Irish Potato famine, as not one life was lost throughout her career—while many famine ships lost more than 30 percent of her manifest to disease, lack of fresh water, rotton food and more. Today, a recreated (2003), and fully seaworthy Jeannie Johnston graces the Liffey River in downtown Dublin, Ireland.

Chef Shelly Cooper
Shelly Cooper

The majesty and beauty of The Appalachian Mountains are unparalleled and the stories of its people are as inspiring as its views. Associate Producer, Melissa Corbin, recently shared a few such stories with Tennessee Craft Beer Magazine.

Famine cottage en route to Slea Head, County Kerry along the fabled Wild Atlantic Way
Thomas Wilmer

Naill Gibbons Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland based in Dublin, shares his passion for Ireland and exploring the Wild Atlantic Way--one of the world’s longest coastal routes covers the dramatic Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to Kinsale, County Cork, in the south.

San Francisco's hospitality industry generates tons of reusable materials, furnishings and more that are shared with the non-profit community
Thomas Wilmer

  Ms. Jo Licata spends full-time working with San Francisco’s non-profit organizations in partnerships with the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and numerous other SF hospitality enterprises.

Licata's mission as Hilton's Community Projects Manager is to provide non-profits with essential goods and supplies from food to furniture, mini-fridges and so much more. Items that otherwise might have headed to the landfill.

Excavation and research has been going on at Agate Fossil Beds since the late 1800’s. The exemplary mammal fossil bones are from the Miocene Epoch (23 to 5 million years ago).  The visitor center includes reconstructed skeletons, along with a collection of Native American artifacts, including items from Chief Red Cloud.

Scotts Bluff interpretive center and Park Ranger headquarters
Thomas Wilmer / Thomas Wilmer

Scotts Bluff served as landmark for pioneers traveling through Nebraska on the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trail—a visit with National Park Ranger at Scotts Bluff National Landmark in Western Nebraska. 

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

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.