WBUR Staff

Karen Given

Producer, WBUR

Karen has worked in radio since she was 16 years old, getting her start at a small commercial music station in Joshua Tree, California. Her favorite part of the job was reading the news updates at the top of every hour.

She came to WBUR in 1991 as a student at Boston University. In her years at B.U., Karen earned degrees in Political Science and Broadcast Journalism and expanded her radio skills with a work study job in WBUR’s audio engineering department. Eventually she was hired on as the Technical Director for Only A Game and Car Talk.

Karen made the transition from technical to editorial by way of Reno, Nevada, where she spent a year as the only feature news reporter for Reno’s public radio station, KUNR. With her newly acquired reporting skills, Karen returned to WBUR as a producer and reporter for Only A Game.

During her tenure with Only A Game, Karen has covered the Salt Lake City Olympics and the first regular season NFL game in London, but her most ambitious story to date was a profile of a town in the Rift Valley where most of Kenya’s elite long distance runners live and train. That story, “Kenya’s Fastest Town,” won the 2007 national Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting.

Recent stories

Kermit Alexander And The Boy He Didn’t Help

November 21, 2015
Retiring in the early 70s, Kermit Alexander played for the San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

After 11 seasons in the NFL, Kermit Alexander returned to his hometown. That’s where he first ran into a talented but troubled football player who would murder four members of Alexander’s family. Only A Game’s Karen Given sat down with Alexander to learn how he led himself back from tragedy.

19,000 And Counting: The ‘SI King’ Seeks To Complete His Collection

November 14, 2015
Scott Smith is known as the "SI King" because of his collection of autographed Sport Illustrated covers...currently the King's collection stands at about 19,000 signed covers. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Over the past 33 years, Scott Smith has earned both a nickname and a reputation as the “SI King”— Smith’s autographed collection of almost 19,000 Sports Illustrated magazines might have something to do with that. Only A Game’s Karen Given talks to the King to find out more about his collection and his quest to get every edition of Sports Illustrated signed.

Know These Red Sox Fans? The ‘SI King’ Needs Your Help

November 13, 2015
The "SI King" Scott Smith is hoping to find the fans seen in this 1990 cover. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Duvoisin/Sports Illustrated)

Autograph collector Scott Smith is looking for five Sox fans who appeared on the Aug. 13, 1990, cover of Sports Illustrated.

Chris Borland’s New Life As Football’s ‘Most Dangerous Man’

November 07, 2015
Chris Borland was an all-star rookie on the San Francisco 49ers. After just one season in 2014, he decided to end his career because of the risk of concussions. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Former San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland was only 24 years old when he announced he was leaving the game. Only A Game’s Karen Given sat down with Borland to talk about how much his life has changed since he became a voice for those who feel that playing football isn’t worth the long-term risks of multiple concussions.

At Little League Tourney, Last-Place Team Finds Joy Despite Losses

October 31, 2015
Ted Flanagan's son Kevan plays for the Lions. The Lions faced 103 other teams during a Cooperstown tournament. (Alex Belisle)

While many baseball fans are focused on the World Series, little league coach Ted Flanagan is remembering a summertime tournament in Cooperstown. His team, the Lions, didn’t win a single game. But he and his players managed to find some joy.

A Reporter, A Bullwhip And A World Record

October 17, 2015

During the week, he’s a mild-mannered reporter and anchor for WBUR, the radio station where Only A Game is produced. For eight weekends during the fall, he’s Jacques Ze Whipper — a Renaissance fair performer with a bad French accent. Only A Game’s Karen Given watched as Jack Lepiarz recently attempted to break a Guinness World Record.

Caron Butler: From Drug Dealer To NBA Veteran

September 26, 2015
Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics

As a child, Caron Butler looked forward to little more than a life of struggle and crime. Now entering his 14th season in the NBA, Butler tells the story of his journey from drug dealer to pro basketball player.

Landon Donovan Talks MLS, Beckham And Bagging Groceries In Germany

September 12, 2015

Landon Donovan scored seven goals in his first game…at age 5. He went on to score many more for the U.S. before he retired late last year. Donovan looks back on his career and the changing relationship between European and American soccer.

CrossFit Helps A California Duo Overcome Life’s Challenges

September 05, 2015
Jennifer Judge has helped Nick, her patient for almost a decade, relieve some of his aggression through CrossFit. (Jennifer Judge)

Behavioral specialist Jennifer Judge found that CrossFit helped her feel stronger and calmer. So, she thought her client, Nick, might like to try it too. After documenting improvements in Nick’s physical and mental well being, Judge is now trying to start a non-profit to help bring CrossFit to other children and adults with special needs in her California desert community.

Making Contact In The ‘Olympics’ Of Ham Radio

August 15, 2015

In this internet age of Facebook and Twitter, there are those who still enjoy a more traditional form of communication. As Only A Game’s Karen Given reports, sometimes they make a sport of it.

At Maine River, Dams Removed, Races Begin — And Myth Recalled

August 08, 2015
(Casey Kelly / Only A Game)

Until recently, two dams blocked the 9.5 mile lower stretch of the Penobscot River in Maine. Last month, paddlers from all over the country gathered for a race hosted by the Penebscot Nation celebrating the removal of the dams.

After Winning AFC Championship, Patriots Will Now Face Seattle Seahawks In Super Bowl

January 19, 2015
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns in the Patriots' 45-7 win over the Colts. (Elise Amendola/AP)

The New England Patriots have punched their ticket to Glendale, Arizona to face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Fans withstood drenching rain and blustery conditions in Foxborough last night to watch New England trounce the Indianapolis Colts 45 to 7.

Before The Super Bowl, Patriots Have To Get By Indianapolis

January 18, 2015
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady prior to a team practice in Foxborough, Mass. on Wednesday. (Charles Krupa/AP)

To get to the Super Bowl, the Patriots first have to get by Indianapolis Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck. WBUR’s Karen Given has a look at how the two teams match up.

Red Sox Lose To Brewers 6-2 In Home Opener

April 05, 2014

Not even a cold wind and lopsided loss could dampen the Opening Day spirits of Red Sox fans as they streamed out of Fenway Park.

Patriots Face Steep Challenge In Denver

January 19, 2014
Denver's Sports Authority Field, host of Saturday's AFC Championship, is a tough place for visitors because of its noise and high altitude. (Joe Mahoney/AP)

The New England Patriots will have to overcome more than the Broncos to reach the Super Bowl. They will also have to handle Denver’s altitude and the noise at Sports Authority Field.

Looking Back At The 2013 Red Sox

December 25, 2013

WBUR and Only A Game’s Karen Given recaps the 2013 Red Sox’ World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, and looks at the year ahead for the team.

Red Sox Win 3rd World Series Title In Decade

October 31, 2013

The game was all but over on Wednesday night as Red Sox closer Koji Uehara took the mound in the ninth inning. But there was still plenty of excitement inside Fenway Park’s 101- year-old walls.

Red Sox Advance To World Series

October 20, 2013

Shane Victorino’s grand slam in the seventh gave the Red Sox the lead they needed to win and advance to the World Series. They’ll meet the Cardinals for Game 1 at Fenway Park Wednesday.

Boston School Sports ‘Turning The Tide,’ Superintendent Says

May 17, 2013

We close our special series on Boston school sports with undiscussed questions and a look at the way forward.

Grades-To-Play Motivation Propels Some Boston Student-Athletes

May 16, 2013
The Play Ball! middle school football championship was a big moment for Narayan Jones, who says he loves football and "wouldn’t want to mess it up by not getting good grades in all my classes." (Doug Tribou/WBUR)

In sports there are scores and records. In school there are tests and grades. And for Boston students participating in the school district’s privately funded sports programs, all of those are important.

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