About the DNA Files

Karen Michel

2001 Series

October 2001:

Karen Michel got her start in radio as a guest on Kids Say the Darndest Things. Though she later appeared on the TV version of the show, the attention paid to picking out the right dress showed her that on TV, packaging overshadows content; she stuck with radio.

After running out of money in graduate school, while living in a geodesic dome in the Alaska woods, she got a job at the local public radio station — though she had no electricity at home. Hooking up a reel-to-reel tape recorder to a car battery, she started editing and producing for the statewide news program, and then for NPR.

In the decades since, she has acquired electricity, moved to New York, and produced many award-winning nationally aired features and documentaries. Karen keeps one of her dog sleds in her Brooklyn living room to remind her that radio moves at its own pace: a human (and sometimes canine) powered one.