Karen Frillmann

Editor-At-Large, 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:

David Dinkins vs. the NYPD

Monday, June 14, 2021

How NYC’s first Black mayor tried to balance concerns about public safety with demands for a more accountable police force -- and the violent resistance he faced from the police union.

The Dawn of ‘Anti-Racist’ America

Monday, June 07, 2021

Ibram X. Kendi reflects on a shifting political culture -- and the fierce backlash against it. Plus, a remembrance of the 1921 Tulsa massacre.

The ‘Big Bang’ in Jazz History

Monday, May 31, 2021

Composer Jason Moran takes Kai on a musical journey back to 1918, when a group of Black soldiers reinvented American music.

The Power of Military Music

Monday, May 31, 2021

A military musician's meditation on Memorial Day, honoring the fallen and the role of music.

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How NYPD ‘Kettled’ the Spirit of Reform

Monday, May 24, 2021

New Yorkers reacted to George Floyd’s murder with mass protests demanding police accountability. NYPD met them with targeted violence and abuse.

F*&% Robert Moses. Let’s Start Over

Monday, May 17, 2021

We’re finally back in the streets -- but are we ready to reimagine how we share public space? This week, a trip through the century-long fight between cars, bikes, and people.

Ma’Khia Bryant’s Story Is Too Familiar

Thursday, May 13, 2021

We failed her long before the cops killed her. We’re failing thousands more children like her now. In this bonus episode, we meet one of those girls.

No More ‘Selfless’ Moms

Monday, May 10, 2021

Erased from history. Ignored in public policy. This Mother’s Day, we ask how to truly value “motherwork.” Plus: The story of one “woke birth.”

The Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness

Monday, May 03, 2021

History suggests we shouldn’t laugh off what’s happening in right wing media right now. Plus, profiting off of racism is a business model as old as the news.

Do We Need the Police at All?

Monday, April 26, 2021

The answer isn’t simple, but it’s time to ask. Listeners weigh in with stories of their own efforts to solve problems with and without cops.

Why Cops Don’t Change

Monday, April 19, 2021

A retired NYPD detective says the force’s stubborn, insular culture was built to last. And Elie Mystal explains a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that made killing “reasonable.”

Government: A Love-Hate Story

Monday, April 12, 2021

How did Americans come to think so poorly of government? And how did Joe Biden come to be the first modern president who’s even tried to change our minds?

Desegregation By Any Means Necessary

Monday, April 05, 2021

A gun-toting Black Power advocate was made principal of a Marin County, California school during efforts to desegregate 50 years ago. As they try again, we recount his radical legacy.

How to End the Dominion of Men

Monday, March 29, 2021

Andrew Cuomo’s just the latest. Why is masculinity so often conflated with domination? And how do we separate the two? Kai turns to a historian and to a novelist for answers.

The Missing History of Asian America

Monday, March 22, 2021

We’ve been here before: A time of national stress, Asian Americans made into scapegoats, and violence follows. The community saw it coming. So why didn’t everybody else?

Collective Loss, Collective Care

Monday, March 15, 2021

We’re looking back at a year with Covid-19 to reflect on our tremendous losses and the remarkable ways communities have come together to take care of themselves.

Capitalism vs. Time

Monday, March 08, 2021

As Amazon workers conclude a historic unionization drive, we consider the history of collective action -- and the struggle to shield our humanity from the demands of productivity.

The Secret Tapes of a Suburban Drug War

Monday, March 01, 2021

A cop in Westchester, NY, was disturbed by what he saw as corruption. He started recording his colleagues -- and revealed how we’re all still living with the excess of the war on drugs.

Blackness (Un)interrupted

Monday, February 22, 2021

Our Future of Black History series concludes with conversations about self-expression. Because when you carry a collective history in your identity, it can be hard to find yourself.

The Case Against Those ‘Tubman $20s’

Thursday, February 18, 2021

People are excited to replace Andrew Jackson’s face with an abolitionist hero. But Dr. Brittney Cooper argues not all honorifics are the same.