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:

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.

Fragility in Liberty

Thursday, February 20, 2020

We travel from Liberty Island to U.S.-Mexico border to discover how the end of Reconstruction and America's present-day immigration crisis are inextricably bound.

Paralysis at the Crossroads

Thursday, February 13, 2020

We talk to voters about their fear of making the wrong decision, and remember an election so consequential it split a major party - and the country - in two.

Two Schools in Marin County

Thursday, February 06, 2020

In the classrooms and town meetings of Marin, California we witness a community grappling with what desegregation and reparations might look like in the 21st century.

40 Acres in Mississippi

Thursday, January 30, 2020

We fact check a family legend about "40 acres and a mule," and find a story about the promise and peril of the American Dream at the end of Reconstruction. 

Can We Finally Build a Multiracial Democracy in 2020?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

After the Civil War ended, America set out to build the world's first multiracial democracy. More than 150 years later, we’re still trying to pull it off.

The Stakes' Visit to The Legacy Museum

Friday, January 03, 2020

The Stakes’ host, Kai Wright, and Karen Frillmann, the shows’ executive producer, on their trip to The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama.

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The Land Rush

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Life and loss in Little Haiti, where residents find themselves in the path of a land rush.