Longest Serving General Manager in KPBS history

SAN DIEGO – Paul Steen, the longest serving General Manager in KPBS’ history, died yesterday. He was 82. Steen served as KPBS General Manager from 1974 until his retirement in 1992. He began his KPBS career in 1967 as Director of Operations when KPBS TV originally went on the air. Steen was only the 3rd general manager in KPBS’ history.   

“Paul Steen led KPBS during its most formative years,” said current KPBS General Manager Tom Karlo. “Paul came to KPBS at the birth of our television station and then as General Manager was responsible for creating the KPBS TV Auction. Our TV auction was huge part of who KPBS was during the 70’s and 80’s and allowed us to connect with our audiences in a fun way.”

Steen is also credited with making the decision in 1990 to switch KPBS-FM’s format to all news.  He also led the “Campaign to Make a Difference” in the early 90’s, which raised enough funds to build the current KPBS building on the SDSU Campus.

“Paul was a visionary and I was so fortunate to have worked under him for nearly two decades,” said Karlo.

Under Steen’s management, the station produced landmark programs for TV and Radio, including That’s 30 with Gloria Penner (1977), Contact 89 (1981), Calling Moscow (1988) and These Days (1991).  Additionally, the station provided daily broadcasts of flagship NPR and PBS programs including Morning Edition (1979) and The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour (1983).  During Steen’s term, KPBS also accomplished broadcast history by transmitting the first ever over-the-air digital HDTV signal.

Steen was inducted into KPBS’ Hall of Fame in 2010 as a charter member.  He and his wife Judy have continued to support KPBS as Producers Club Members attending many events throughout the year.

KPBS is a public service of San Diego State University, serving the region with TV, Radio, and Internet content that educates, inspires, entertains, and advances civic involvement.

Ronnie Cook
Ronnie Cook

Ronnie is has been telling stories with images, film, video and words for over 40 years.