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:

Lessons from Mom at a Magic Mike Show in Vegas

Monday, July 17, 2023

How immigrant stories can be happy stories too.

Affirmative Action is About More Than Acceptance Letters

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Everyone’s talking about affirmative action at elite universities. But they educate fewer than 5 percent of students seeking advanced degrees. So why should the other 95 percent care?

What Does “Color-Blind” Really Mean?

Monday, July 10, 2023

Affirmative action is gone. Ibram X. Kendi tells us the history leading up to this moment and what could be next.

Why It’s So Hard to Sound “American”

Monday, July 03, 2023

A culture war from our past: Before he could define America’s sound for the next century, Aaron Copland had to overcome conflict over what “America” meant.

Good Things: Battling Water Chestnuts

Monday, July 03, 2023

An invasive plant is attempting to take over some of New York City’s waterways, but in Van Cortlandt Park, a small team of volunteers is making a stand.

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The Coolest Music Parties You Didn’t Know Were Happening

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Arab Americans around the country are celebrating their diaspora. And it starts with two guys in a band blasting music at underground parties in Washington, D.C.

Why the Indian Child Welfare Act is the Gold Standard in Family Law

Monday, June 26, 2023

This is what happens when the law works the way it’s supposed to.

95 Unmarked Graves

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Sugar Land, Texas has a dirty little secret. A striking story about Black emancipation.

Comedian Sam Jay Isn’t Afraid of Getting Canceled

Thursday, June 15, 2023

At least not anymore. That confidence comes from her purpose, her identities, and how comedy has evolved from the sitcoms she used to watch as a kid.

Billy Porter Doesn’t Need a Month to Celebrate Pride

Monday, June 12, 2023

He celebrates all year long through art – and that’s been the journey of a lifetime.

No, We Can’t Stop Saying Their Names

Monday, May 29, 2023

George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day three years ago. Let’s remember his impact on us – but let’s also ask how the stories we tell about Black life (and death) shape our future.

Good Things: Helping The American Chestnut

Friday, May 26, 2023

It’s been over a century since a blight wiped out the American chestnut trees that filled New York City’s parks. But in Brooklyn, a volunteer is helping the trees make a shaky comeback.


Clarence Thomas and his Hotep Supreme Court

Monday, May 22, 2023

Justice Thomas is a Black nationalist — but that doesn’t mean he loves all Black people. We unearth his ideological roots and what they mean for the Court’s looming opinions.

Homelessness Hides in Plain Sight. So Does Its Fix.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Jordan Neely’s death on the New York City subway exposed a collective failure to see his humanity. We learn about a novel program in Houston – that sees people without homes as people.

Joy Harjo and Native Stories

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Before she was the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo’s journey as an artist began at a federal Indian boarding school. She reveals an unexpected perspective about her experience.

Indian Boarding Schools Are Not Ancient History

Monday, May 08, 2023

From 1819 and 1969, the U.S. removed thousands of Native children from their homes and tried to strip them of their culture. What would a reparations program for this history look like?

Money Shame, and How To Overcome It Through Financial Literacy

Thursday, May 04, 2023

The world of finance can be confusing for people who weren’t born into it – more often, that’s people of color. Berna Anat is a “Financial Hype Woman” on a mission to fix that. 

How Assata Shakur Became One of America’s Most Wanted

Monday, May 01, 2023

A deadly encounter fifty years ago between the New Jersey State Police and a group of Black activists turned Assata Shakur into a cultural icon – and an enduring political villain. 

Tucker Carlson, Rupert Murdoch, and the Future of Fox News

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The state of Fox News today is thanks to Rupert Murdoch. A look inside the Murdoch media empire shows how media outlets can turn into right-wing political influence machines. 

Good Things: Glass Eels in Staten Island

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Each spring millions of tiny glass eels enter New York City’s waterways. And it’s the job of this Staten Island science class to help count them.