Karen Brown

Senior Reporter

Karen is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter since for New England Public Radio since 1998. Her pieces have won a number of national awards, including the National Edward R. Murrow Award, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) Award, and the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Reporting for her body of work on mental illness.

Karen previously worked as a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer in its South Jersey bureau. She earned a Masters of Journalism from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley in 1996.

She lives with her husband Sean, and twin children, Sam and Lucy, in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Judge Michael Ponsor, holding his first novel, "The Hanging Judge," which was published in 2013.
File photo / The Republican

When Springfield federal Judge Michael Ponsor semi-retired after three decades on the bench, he started to enjoy two privileges of part time work: He could choose the type of cases he wanted, and he had a lot more time for his other professional passion, fiction writing.

A few years ago, his first legal thriller — "The Hanging Judge" — reached the New York Times bestseller list. His second — "The One-Eyed Judge" — features the same main character, Judge David Norcross, who Ponsor insists is only loosely based on himself.

State Representative Peter Kocot of Northampton. Mass.
Mark M. Murray / The Republican

A western Massachusetts lawmaker wants to make it easier to get on the state's voting list -- especially for the approximately 700,000 people eligible to vote who are not registered.

UMass Amherst epidemiologist Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson.
UMass Website

UMass researchers say consuming more vegetable protein may reduce the risk for early menopause.

Early menopause, which is the loss of reproductive function before the age of 45, is a problem for the growing number of women who have delayed having children. That's according to UMass Amherst epidemiologist Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson.

"There are indications that women with early menopause are at increased risk for premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and osteoporosis," Bertone-Johnson said.

Naila Moreira
Jermane Stephinger

We continue our summer fiction series with a form of literature that is not strictly "made up." 

A scene from rehearsals of The Scarlet Professor opera.
Daniel Keller

In 1960, a famous literature professor at Smith College was arrested for having gay pornographic materials in his Northampton, Massachusetts, apartment. Four decades later, that scandal was the basis of a nonfiction book. Now the story is getting a new telling -- an operatic one -- on the very college campus where the original events took place.


Hind Bourhim, originally from Morocco, becomes a naturalized American citizen.
Don Treeger / The Republican

Northampton is one of a handful of cities in Massachusetts that held swearing in ceremonies for new American citizens on July 4th.

This was the sixth year Mayor David Narkewicz hosted the event, sponsored by the Center for New Americans -- and the first time since Donald Trump took office.

Marketers of Western Massachusetts are moving forward with their rebranding campaign to bring more tourists and workers to the region -- after changing the slogan to appease local critics.

After spending $80,000 dollars on consultants, economic development officials ended up with a slogan most locals have long used to describe where they live -- "Western Mass." That's after critics slammed the proposed term of "West Mass".

Rick Sullivan of the Western Mass Economic Development Council says trying to give the region a snappier name was a miscalculation.

A "missing persons" ad in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, aimed at U.S. Representative Richie Neal.
Daily Hampshire Gazette / via MassLive

Some residents of the Western Massachusetts hilltowns are so frustrated that their congressman doesn't come visit, they've taken out a "missing persons" ad in a local newspaper.

A progressive activist group called Indivisible Williamsburg raised money online to take out the tongue-in-cheek ad in the Daily Hampshire Gazette -- a photo of U.S. Representative Richie Neal above the words, "Has anyone seen this man?"

Lou Cove and Howie Gordon, together in 1979.
Courtesy / Lou Cove

In 1979, 12-year old Lou Cove had just moved to Salem, Massachusetts -- his family's eighth home in a decade -- when an eccentric family friend named Howie came to live with them.

The renovated Franklin County Courthouse in Greenfield.
Karen Brown / NEPR

A small group of residents in Franklin County -- and a top Massachusetts lawmaker -- are urging court officials to stop destroying legal books and documents.

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