John Ryan | KUOW News and Information

John Ryan

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2009

Good thing John was a clumsy traveler.

Otherwise his cheap microcassette recorder wouldn't have fallen out of his pocket in an Indonesian taxi, a generous BBC stringer wouldn't have lent him some professional recording gear, and he wouldn't have gotten the radio bug. But after pointing a mic at rare jungle songbirds and gong–playing grandmothers for his first radio story, there was no turning back.

In the past decade, he's freelanced for shows such as All Things Considered, Living on Earth, Marketplace and The World. He also continued his print career by reporting for newspapers including the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times and Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

In 2009, John moved back to Seattle after two exciting years covering avalanches, political intrigue and just about everything in between for KTOO FM, the NPR station in Alaska's capital city.

John has won national awards for KUOW as a freelancer (check out "As the Sound Churns") and now as a staff reporter, including the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi awards for Public Service in Radio Journalism and for Investigative Reporting. He believes democracy only works when journalism holds the powerful accountable for their words and actions. He says he's happy to have one of the few investigative reporting jobs in public radio and to get to explore new ways of telling investigative stories at KUOW.org.

John welcomes story ideas and feedback from listeners. Email him at jryan@kuow.org or call him at 206-543-0637. (Pro Tip: Do not "reach out to" him -- he hates that vague cliche!)

In addition to the recent stories below, John's KUOW stories from September 2012 and before are archived here.

Ways to Connect

Most donors to this year's ballot measure gave at least this much money ($10,000).
FLICKR PHOTO/KEITH COOPER (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/dK2osL

The winners and losers in Washington's elections become official once counties certify their results Tuesday, November 29. Then there are the unofficial winners – who won’t be publicized.

Initiative 1464 on the 2016 general election ballot.
KUOW PHOTO/JOHN RYAN

Two campaigns on the Washington ballot this year stood out for failing despite spending lots of money. Hillary Clinton’s campaign raised twice as much money nationally as Donald Trump’s and lost (though she did win the state). The other big-money defeat didn't make big headlines.


No-GMO food label
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

A judge in Olympia has fined an activist group from Iowa for secretly funneling money into a Washington state election.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor ruled that Food Democracy Action! concealed $300,000 in contributions supporting a ballot measure to label genetically modified foods in 2013.

KUOW Photo / John Ryan

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Seattle's Ballard Locks Tuesday night to urge the federal government to block construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. It was one of 200 rallies planned nationwide Tuesday to support the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's fight against the pipeline.

KUOW Photo / John Ryan

In a year that has broken record after high-temperature record, politicians in Washington state are saying a vote for them is a vote for the climate. Two initiatives on the ballot claim to be major advances in fighting climate change. KUOW fact-checks the initiative claims.


No-GMO food label
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Washington state officials are calling it the largest campaign-finance penalty in U.S. history.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay an $18 million fine for deliberately hiding its donors.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If you go to Puget Sound Energy’s website, you’ll see Washington’s largest utility claim to take a stand on greenhouse gas emissions. The gas and electric utility says says it's investing in wind power and supporting policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At PSE's Bellevue headquarters on Monday, you’d have seen environmentalists protesting PSE's efforts to block action on climate change.


Data you can dread--and dance to: the Keeling Curve
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Climate change is a gradual process, driven by invisible pollution. So it can be hard to wrap your brain around.

But atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington have made it possible to listen to the planet changing. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

In January, registered voters in Seattle will get something in the mail that no American has gotten before.

They’re called democracy vouchers, and the city will mail $100 worth of them to each Seattle voter.


JZ Knight claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior-spirit named Ramtha.
Ramtha's School of Enlightenment

Controversial "spirit channeler"JZ Knight of Yelm has channeled another $54,000 into Washington state politics.

Knight claims to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior-spirit named Ramtha and charges believers up to $5,000 to spend a day with "Ramtha the Enlightened One" at her school in Yelm.

Wikimedia Commons

We don’t know how much Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton raised on her fund-raising visit to Seattle on Friday — her campaign doesn’t have to report its haul to the Federal Election Commission until Oct. 27. (Tickets to see her with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2,807-seat Paramount Theater ranged from $250 to $27,000.)

But we do know that presidential campaigns often use Seattle as a sort of campaign ATM, a reliable place to extract cash from high-end donors.

KUOW / John Ryan photo

Wind and heavy rain could make this weekend tough for Puget Sound dwellers.

The storm could be rough on the sound's underwater residents as well.


Sound Transit's Capitol Hill Station, prior to opening, 25 January 2016.
Flickr Photo/Don Wilson (CC BY-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/Efv737

Money keeps pouring into the battle over the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, with Mass Transit Now, the campaign working to pass the $54 billion transit package, up to nearly $3 million in contributions.

Basler and Smith campaigns

Democrat Adam Smith of Bellevue is running to keep his seat in Congress, but most of his campaign cash comes not from Washington state but from Washington, D.C., and its suburbs.

J.J. Abrams and others give big in WA elections

Oct 4, 2016
Flickr user Nick Ares / Creative Commons

Campaign cash, often in six-figure chunks, is sloshing around the Washington elections as November draws near. 

If the figures reported by the Washington Public Disclosure Commission are any indicator, last week was a big one for the makers of oversized novelty checks. Last week saw 11 checks of $100,000 or more—including two of this year's biggest. 

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