Karen Frillmann

Executive Producer, WNYC Narrative Unit

Karen is a veteran editor in WNYC’s newsroom, and directs the long-form narrative unit that created the acclaimed podcast series There Goes the Neighborhood and The United States of Anxiety…

Karen lends her expertise as a story whisperer to the New Yorker Radio Hour for the development of long-form features and special episodes like “Syria, The World’s Nightmare.”

As a producer, she launched Senior Edition which helped establish WNYC as a destination for talk and public affairs. She worked for five years as a freelance reporter and producer contributing to National Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. As a senior producer at Simon and Schuster Audio, Karen worked with Alice Walker, Bob Woodward, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen Ambrose and many other notable authors. She returned to public radio as an editor and co-producer for a series of documentaries which included an exploration of the changing NY Waterfront, the 1968 New York City teacher’s school strike and the changes in the city six months after the attacks of September 11th. She took on the senior editorial position in the newsroom in 2003. 

Awards for her reporting and editing achievements include recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Armstrong Award, the Dupont-Columbia University Awards, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, The Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Award, The Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences from whom she received a Grammy nomination for her production of “War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars.”     

Growing up in southeast Queens and having lived in various neighborhoods around the city, Karen is very happy to continue to document and report on her hometown. On summer weekends, she can be found swimming upriver in the Hudson where she has helped to establish a free floating river pool in Beacon, NY.    

Karen Frillmann appears in the following:

Revisiting Caught: 'They Look at Me Like a Menace'

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Just one diagnosis can make or break a seemingly endless cycle of incarceration, but for 16-year-old Z, it’s complicated. And frustrating. Our presentation of Caught continues.

Revisiting Caught: 'I Just Want You to Come Home'

Thursday, July 30, 2020

What happens once we decide a child is a criminal? We return to Caught as the nation continues to grapple with long-standing systemic racism in our policing and justice systems.

The Laws of Soil and Blood

Friday, July 17, 2020

Afro-Italians like Bellamy Ogak are not born citizens by law. Their story is a reminder why U.S. birthright citizenship is a radical idea: It ended slavery.

Zoned for Resistance

Friday, July 10, 2020

Chicago’s Little Village has been hit hard by COVID-19, but after a botched demolition left it coated in dust, one lifelong activist and her community are standing together while apart.

Juneteenth, an Unfinished Business

Friday, June 26, 2020

As the nation grapples with a reckoning, we pause to celebrate Juneteenth. Our holiday special, for Black liberation and the ongoing birth of the United States.

Rage, Grief, Joy

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Something has been pushed to the surface that can no longer be repressed. And it’s transforming everything— from what we tolerate politically to how we mourn those we’ve lost.

'Community' Is a Verb. And It’s Hard

Friday, June 12, 2020

People all over the country are stepping up to make change. But as they do, they face challenges that go beyond Covid-19 and police violence. Two stories, from Chicago and New York City.

Keeping Released Prisoners Safe and Sane

Thursday, June 04, 2020

What if we release prisoners with no one to help them? We follow a psychiatrist and social worker as they try to find and support mentally ill inmates being released during a pandemic.

'I Did Not Watch the Video'

Thursday, May 21, 2020

In the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing, Kai calls up "Friday Black" author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah to reflect on love, loss... and American zombies.

My Dad is An Essential Worker

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

As Covid-19 has hits black communities uniquely hard, here's how one essential worker is coping during the pandemic.

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The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells

Friday, May 08, 2020

Here's the story of investigative journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, who's courageous anti-lynching work just received a Pulitzer Prize.

Inside the Prison Pandemic

Friday, May 01, 2020

There are roughly 2.3 million people in jails and prisons. They can’t socially distance. They can barely wash their hands. So now what?

Why Covid-19 Is Killing Black People

Friday, April 24, 2020

The pandemic has hit black communities uniquely hard. To understand why, we explore how racism shows up in black bodies — all the way down to the cellular level.

Questions to Ask While Waiting

Monday, April 13, 2020

Many of us are bracing for the changes Covid-19 will bring, including to our relationships. So reporter Jenny Casas turned to Benji Hart’s poem as a tool for connecting with one another.

A History of Style in a Pandemic

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Here’s how black women in Chicago used lace and jewels to turn their mandatory face masks into works of art, more than 100 years ago.

Dispatches from People Stranded in Place

Friday, April 03, 2020

From the homeless in San Francisco to immigration detention centers, here's how the response to Covid-19 is undermined by choices that have little to do with healthcare.

Keep Calm and Check Your Bias

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Research shows that racism and other prejudices are most acute when the stakes are high, so Kai talks with Dr. Gail Christopher about how to control for that reality, during a pandemic.

Last Chance at Justice

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Salah Hasan Nusaif al-Ejaili knows the atrocities that can be committed during a time of crisis. Seventeen years after the American invasion of Iraq, he's still trying to get justice.

Black Power at the Polls

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Liberal politics have relied on the same coalition for 160 years. But do black people have any real power in that alliance? Kai Wright and Rashad Robinson discuss presence versus power.

A Secret Meeting in South Bend

Thursday, February 27, 2020

We speak to descendants of the Great Migration in South Bend, Indiana about their family stories of housing in the “heartland,” and inequity in home ownership today.