Curtin, Andrle earn Democracy In Action award for contributions to community
Friday, May 15, 2009
The League of Women Voters' premier citizenship award ceremony drew 150 central Ohioans to the Statehouse Atrium yesterday to recognize Mike Curtin and Fred Andrle for promoting civil discourse and citizen education through communications.
Awarded since 1992 for outstanding participation in civic affairs, Democracy In Action brought together friends and fans of Curtin, associate publisher emeritus of The Columbus Dispatch, and Andrle, host and executive producer of WOSU Radio's Open Line.
The reception and ceremony was made possible through the sponsorship of:
- Premier Sponsor: The Columbus Dispatch
- Corporate Sponsor: The Ohio State University
- Sponsors: Crane Plastics, Fifth Third Bank, and Honda of America Manufacturing
More than 50 patrons and 10 advertisers contributed to the success of the event as well. Event co-chairs Sara Meyers and Kitty Burcsu were supported by David McCoy, Beth Taggart, Anne Nelson, Amy Pulles, Lucy Buzzee, and Mary Kaul in organizing the evening.
Emcee Angela Pace lent humor and personal recollections of both honorees to the evening. OSU's Herb Asher and county engineer Dean Ringle served as honorary co-chairs for Curtin, while educator Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld and Ohio Public Radio's Bill Cohen served as honorary co-chairs for Andrle.
Michael F. Curtin
Mike Curtin is associate publisher emeritus of The Columbus Dispatch. With the Dispatch for 35 years, Curtin began as a general assignment reporter. For 18 years, most of his reporting career, he specialized in the coverage of state and local government, public policy, and politics. His beats included Columbus City Hall, Franklin County government, the Ohio General Assembly, and local and state political campaigns.
In 1985, Curtin became the newspaper's chief political writer and director of The Dispatch Poll. In 1994, he became the paper's executive managing editor, then was promoted to editor and to associate publisher. Curtin was named president of The Dispatch Printing Company in January 1999, chief operating officer in 2002, and vice chairman in 2005.
He retired form the executive suite of the Dispatch at the end of 2007. As associate publisher emeritus, Curtin consults for the Dispatch on editorial policy and civic affairs, researches, and writes.
According to Curtin, the role of newspapers in democracy is "to ensure that the electorate has the essential information to make informed choices in elections and also to hold government officials accountable to the public."
In addition to The Dispatch Group's own impressive candidate information, the paper has supported the League of Women Voters in debates, candidate forums, and the printing and distribution of the League's Voter Information Bulletin.
"He was a really great reporter on political issues, especially the Statehouse," said one of the League's volunteer lobbyists, "and he brought that even-handedness and reporter's eye to the entire paper when he became the managing editor and associate publisher."
In moving into management of The Dispatch, Curtin said his vision was to utilize the tremendous resources of the paper, particularly its journalistic talent, and to provide as comprehensive as possible report every day. "We have a First Amendment responsibility to provide information to the people," Curtin said. "We also want to cover the community like a mirror so that the reflection is true, not only through news, but also through sports and business and life. That's the highest aspiration for any newspaper."
Curtin is the author of The Ohio Politics Almanac, 1st and 2nd editions, published by Kent State University Press. He is a Columbus native and a graduate of The Ohio State University School of Journalism. He is married to Sharon Rhodes Curtin; they have two adult children.
If democracy depends on an informed and active citizenry, Fred Andrle has been a cornerstone of central Ohio's democracy through his radio show Open Line on WOSU radio.
For more than 20 years, callers throughout central Ohio have had the opportunity to engage in a civil discussion on a variety of topics: political, historical, scientific, spiritual, personal.
"I call up the most interesting people and talk to them," Andrle said about inviting guests onto the show. Typically, the show features an author, psychologist, political insider, foreign policy expert, or historian. Andrle expertly interviews them, then opens up the phone lines to callers. "Anybody can call in and challenge anybody on the show," he said.
At other times the show's format is an open forum, and there is no guest or scheduled topic for the show. Open forum shows allow anyone to call in and set the agenda for the discussion. Regular listeners to Andrle's show know that callers will be listened to and engaged in discussion. While abusive or hate-filled calls are not allowed on the air or are quickly cut off, no one is dismissed for unconventional views. "I assume that everyone who calls in has an idea, has gone through a thought process, and deserves respect," said Andrle.
Some of the most valuable shows, in Andrle's opinion, were those before the Iraq war debating the advisability of going to war. People were having thoughtful and important discussions on Open Line on a topic that the media seemed to ignore. Andrle also found the shows focusing on personal, spiritual, and psychological topics to be important.
May 29 will mark Andrle's last show. His retirement will allow him to focus on another passion: writing poetry. His book of poems, Love Life, was published in 2008.
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Andrle said his life in the public eye was very different from his father's life as a wholesale lumber salesman. Yet his father instilled in him important ideas: that people who "have" are responsible to those who don't, and that it is important to express your opinions, especially those that might be different from what everyone else seems to be saying.
In an article in The Columbus Dispatch, Andrle was quoted as saying, "I feel very, very privileged to have done a show in which we've been able to present all these people, ideas, issues -- every point of view."