Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SDSU members and the general public will gain insight into the workings of KPBS when General Manager Tom Karlo discusses “The Changing Face and Landscape of Media” from 10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Friday, June 24 at the KPBS studio.

Tom Karlo
KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo ('75) says the station
has maintained strong ratings over the years by
constantly eveolving.

OLLI at SDSU offers university-quality courses in state-of-the-art classrooms with curious fellow learners age 50 and better.

Karlo will lead participants on a tour of the KPBS newsroom, answer questions, then have the audience listen to the live noon radio broadcast of “KPBS Roundtable.” The program goes on KPBS’ digital and social media platforms that afternoon before being broadcast on television at 8:30 p.m.

“I’ll be talking about change and how important it is,” Karlo said. “I’ll show what happened to companies that were powerful years ago and didn’t change, such as the four Bs: Blackberry, Blockbuster, Borders and Britannica (encyclopedia.) They’re not the powerhouse companies they used to be years ago.”


KPBS has maintained its strong rankings over the years on both radio and television by constantly evolving, Karlo said. He did a complete analysis of the local market several years ago and discovered the following:

KPBS photo by Sam Hodgson
KPBS control booth photo by Sam Hodgson
  • Local radio news competition was going away, with stations concentrating more on opinionated talk shows.
  • Television stations were competing for viewers with sensational news, using the “if it bleeds, it leads” concept.
  • Newspapers were becoming thinner as they laid off a high percentage of employees.
  • Social media and digital opportunities such as Roku and Apple TV were taking over.

“We decided to go after a more efficient way on all platforms,” Karlo said. “That’s why we decided to eliminate our radio, TV, and digital divisions and create one content-producing division that supplies news to all platforms. We completely turned upside-down the way we do business by specializing in programming that enriches the lives of people.”


With a focus on hard news, as opposed to sensationalism, KPBS found its niche.

“We hit a home run,” Karlo said. “We’ve had our most successful seven or eight years during the country’s worst-ever recession when the media was losing its audience. I think we are one of the most trusted news sources in San Diego.”

KPBS News Center photo by Jim Brady
KPBS News Center photo by Jim Brady

In order to keep up with the times, KPBS needs to keep up with the ever-changing media landscape.

“We want to produce content that my mom can watch on TV, my wife can listen to on radio, and my kids and grandkids can see on social and digital platforms,” Karlo concluded.

For more information, call (619) 594-2863, email osher@mail.sdsu.edu, or visit neverstoplearning.net/osher.