Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio)

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan with a passion for broadcast reporting. She left her hometown of Lancaster for Otterbein College. As News Director at WCBE in Columbus in the 90s, she covered a variety of events, including the local impact of the Gulf War, the financial problems of the Columbus Public Schools and the trouble-ridden Ameriflora exhibition in 1992.

Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University in 1994. After a brief stint at WBNS-TV in Columbus, she moved to Cleveland and became the afternoon drive anchor and assignment editor for WTAM-AM. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, at the time the first man put to death since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and also co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, which featured her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus, she's covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them, the "Coingate" scandal and the resignation of former Attorney General Marc Dann. She's also produced features on "green" business, STEM education, campaign ads, the elimination of the state's anti-smoking agency and a demolition derby involving farm equipment.

Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the governor's State of the State. She was a panelist for the gubernatorial and the US Senate debates in 2006 and the Attorney General's race in 2008, and has also been interviewed by NPR, by the BBC and by Brian Williams for NBC's "Nightly News".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists, the Ohio Educational Telecommunications Commission, and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She was nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for hosting "The State of Ohio". She's currently the president-elect of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters.

Karen joined the Bureau in March 2004. She’s reported for NPR, Marketplace and the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, and is a frequent guest on ONN’s “Capitol Square” , WVIZ’s “Ideas” and WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record”.

Karen is also an adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus. Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

Governor John Kasich made a campaign stop in Beavercreek Tuesday.
Lewis Wallace / WYSO

There aren’t many undecided voters in this election, especially when it comes to the candidates for governor, but that doesn’t mean all voters are happy with the options they have.

The polls haven’t been good to Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald. He’s trailing Republican incumbent John Kasich in overall likely voters, and in the latest Quinnipiac poll, 16 percent of Democrats say they have an unfavorable opinion of him, along with 44 percent of Republicans.

slgckgc / Flickr/Creative Commons

The state’s cash welfare program has been sending out half as many checks to Ohio families as it did three and a half years ago, but advocates have very different explanations for that.

The Ohio Works First program provides a maximum of $465 a month to some of the state’s poorest people, those making just under $9,990 for a family of three. Most recipients can only get benefits for three years, and adults in the program have to be working or in job training for at least 30 hours a week. The money buys things that food stamps and other programs don’t cover.

Office of Governor John Kasich

Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich says he continues to support the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, even as similar prohibitions are being struck down by the courts. In an interview earlier this week, Kasich said he supports the 2004 amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, even though recent court rulings mean 60 percent of Americans live in a state that does or will recognize same-sex marriage.

User Stéfan / Flickr/Creative Commons

  The U.S. Supreme Court's has rejected appeals from five states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage, but the fight isn’t over in Ohio.

The Supreme Court’s decision to turn away appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin means 60 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state where same-sex marriages will be recognized. Ohio still isn’t one of them, but Al Gerhardstein, who’s the attorney in two cases filed against Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban, says he thinks change is inevitable.

Ed Fitzgerald (left) has had a difficult campaign for governor, and has fallen far behind incumbent John Kasich in the polls.
Emily McCord / WYSO

 A new independent poll of likely voters shows some bad news for Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald. The latest Quinnipiac poll has likely voters backing Republican incumbent John Kasich at 57 percent, compared to 35 percent for FitzGerald, the Democratic Cuyahoga County Executive. The poll also shows Kasich gets support from a full quarter of Democratic voters, and nearly half of those surveyed say they still don’t know enough about FitzGerald to form an opinion.

This Labor Day, there are a record low number of Ohioans in the labor force—fewer than there have been since October 1978. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports just 59 percent of Americans 16 and over have declared that they are part of the labor force; in Ohio, that figure is just under 63 percent, a 34-year low. That’s not the only thing that has the progressives at Policy Matters Ohio worried. Amy Hanauer says the group’s annual Labor Day report also shows the state lost more than 2.3 percent of its jobs since 2005, while the country added 3.8 percent in that same period.

Arise Academy in Dayton is now closed, and former leaders of the school have been convicted of federal crimes.
User: Paradox 56 / Flickr/Creative Commons

A few dozen school-age students joined a union-backed coalition at the Ohio Statehouse Wednesday for a small but vocal protest against “zero tolerance” policies that result in kids being kicked out of school.

  The group, which included some students who’d been suspended or expelled from elementary school, held up signs reading “give kids second chances” and “more help less punishment”.

Molly Shack with the Ohio Student Association says the worst stories she’s heard involve suspensions at schools she says are underfunded and under-resourced.

Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

There are problems with maggots, food shortages and contraband in state prisons, and the committee that inspects those facilities is blaming a private vendor hired by the prison system.

tncountryfan / Flickr/Creative Commons

Nearly nine out of ten Ohio third graders have passed the state’s third grade reading test, which allows them to move on to fourth grade—but Dayton scored among the worst in the state.

Eighty-eight percent of the 110,000 kids who took the test statewide passed this spring. That’s up from a little over 63 percent who passed the test in the fall.

The OSU marching band made a visit to the House chamber at the statehouse this week.
Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau

The state of Ohio is closer to having an official official rock song. Just after the Ohio State University marching band deliberately stomped into and out of the House chamber Wednesday, representatives passed legislation making “Hang On Sloopy” the state’s official rock song.

Democrat Michael Stinziano of Columbus co-sponsored the bill, which he says came about when he heard it was the state official song only by resolution, not by law. To be sure, he consulted the man who came up with the resolution when he held that seat—his father Mike Stinziano. 

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