John Ryan

Reporter

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.

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

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Megaprojects
12:05 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

No More Tunneling By Bertha Until March 2015

Drilling crews started on Friday and plan to continue around the clock for a month, injecting a cement-water mix into the ground where a shaft will be dug to expose the front of the stalled tunnel machine.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State transportation officials say the tunnel machine now stuck beneath the downtown Seattle waterfront won't resume tunneling for another 10 months. Digging is now forecast to resume in March 2015.

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Environment
1:35 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

DNR Postpones Clear-Cuts It Approved Near Oso Landslide

DNR's proposed Riley Rotor timber sale in red, with salmon streams in yellow, near Oso, Wash.
Credit Courtesy Washington Forest Law Center

Washington state officials have postponed selling 250 acres of timber on steep slopes near the town of Oso.

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Logging And Landslides
9:03 am
Wed April 16, 2014

DNR Head Defends Taking Timber Money Despite Vow

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark thanks one of the volunteers at the Great Gravel Pack-In at the Capitol State Forest, March 29, 2014.
Credit Flickr Photo/Diana Lofflin, DNR (CC BY-NC-ND)

It's not unusual for elected officials to cozy up to people with money. Yet Washington Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark's relationship with the timber industry he regulates has changed dramatically since the two-term Democrat first ran for the office six years ago.

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Oso Clear-Cut
12:24 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Oso Logger: We Followed Rules, Cut Edge Of Landslide Zone Cautiously

Washington Department of Natural Resources image shows 2004 clear-cut (near dotted purple line) extending into no-logging zone (marked with yellow line) at site of Oso landslide.
Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that land above the Oso landslide zone was logged in 2005. The site was logged in 2004 and replanted in 2005.

The forester who clear-cut land above the Oso, Wash., landslide zone in 2004 says he followed standard procedures and state regulations when logging there.

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Arctic drilling
10:52 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Coast Guard Blames Kulluk Grounding on Shell Oil's Complacency, Risk Taking

The Kulluk, hard aground off Alaska's Sitkalidak Island in January 2013
U.S. Coast Guard

A US Coast Guard investigation blames Shell Oil's complacency and risk-taking for an oil rig running aground on a remote Alaskan Island on New Year's Eve 2012.

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Land Use Issues
11:41 am
Tue April 1, 2014

DNR Investigates Out-Of-Bounds Clear-Cut, Other Possible Factors In Oso Landslide

Geomorphologist Paul Kennard at Discovery Park in Seattle.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that land above the Oso landslide zone was logged in 2005. The site was logged in 2004 and replanted in 2005.

Seattle just wrapped up its wettest March on record, with 9.4 inches of rain reported at Sea-Tac International Airport. 

Geologists say near-record rain in the Cascade foothills was key in triggering the fatal landslide near the town of Oso, Wash., on March 22. But they say clear-cutting nearby could also have worsened the risk of the hillside collapsing.

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Oso Mudslide
11:11 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Clear-Cut Crossed Into No-Logging Zone In Oso

Washington Department of Natural Resources image shows 2005 clear-cut (near dotted purple line) extending into no-logging zone (marked with yellow line) at site of Oso landslide.
Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

KUOW's John Ryan talks with host Ross Reynolds about his report.

State officials say they didn't approve clear-cutting inside a no-logging zone directly above Saturday's deadly landslide that struck the town of Oso. But aerial photos show a clear-cut extending into the zone where a loss of trees would heighten the risk of landslides.

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Environment
4:27 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Concern Over Landslide-Logging Connection Near Oso Is Decades Old

WSDOT photo of Oso slide area annotated by retired fisheries biologist Bill McMillan of Concrete, Wash.
Courtesy of WSDOT / Bill McMillan

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that land above the Oso landslide zone was logged in 2005. The site was logged in 2004 and replanted in 2005.

Saturday's deadly slide was the latest in a long string of landslides to hit the area known as the Hazel or Oso slide along the North Fork Stillaguamish River.

State and tribal officials have known about and tried to block landslides on that spot for half a century.

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Safer Streets
9:18 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Seattle To Let Pedestrians Walk More Slowly

Cars and pedestrians compete for space in a busy Rainier Valley crosswalk.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The city of Seattle is re-timing traffic signals throughout the city to make crosswalks safer for all pedestrians.

A study conducted by a group of graduate students at the University of Washington School of Public Health in 2013 found that traffic signals in Rainier Valley force pedestrians to cross faster than signals on Market Street in the wealthier and whiter neighborhood of Ballard.

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New Obstacles To Megaproject?
8:23 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Archaeological Digging Starts On Seattle's Stalled Tunnel Project

Removing Bertha's cutter head will require digging through soil that could have archaeological resources.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT

The past could present yet another obstacle to the future of the state Route 99 megaproject on the Seattle waterfront.

Archaeologists with the tunnel project started digging a series of 60 small holes Thursday to see if any signs of historic or prehistoric human activity are in the area.

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Ski Resort Damages
8:46 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Intentional Avalanche Destroys Crystal Mountain Chairlift

The remains of a slab avalanche at Crystal Mountain.
Crystal Mountain Resort

An avalanche destroyed a chairlift at the Crystal Mountain resort near Mount Rainier on Monday afternoon when the resort was closed. The avalanche was intentionally set off by the resort's ski patrol and no one was hurt.

Despite the destruction, patrollers say they have no regrets.

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SR 99 Tunnel
7:57 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Bertha's Very Bad Week, A Timeline

Tunneling crews discuss their progress as they operate Bertha in November 2013. Inch-by-inch progress data is collected and analyzed by dozens of monitors on the 57.5-foot-diameter machine as it tunnels its way beneath Seattle.
Credit Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

It’s been hard to get straight answers about what forced Bertha, the world's largest tunnel machine, to halt. It began boring July 30, 2013, and when Bertha broke down in December, it was ahead of schedule. Since then, the machine has been mostly idle beneath the Seattle waterfront. Project officials still haven't publicly identified a root cause.

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Bertha Woes
6:23 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Six Months Needed To Repair Seattle Tunnel Machine

Chris Dixon of Seattle Tunnel Partners
Credit KUOW/John Ryan

Seattle's tunnel builders say getting their world-record tunnel machine going again will take at least six more months.

The tunnel machine known as Bertha has sat largely motionless for nearly three months since it overheated in early December.

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SR 99 Tunnel Project
9:00 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Transportation Officials: To Fix Bertha, Cutter Head Needs To Be Removed

Bertha's face, seen here before starting the state Route 99 tunnel, will need to be removed for repairs.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bertha needs a face lift.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials told the Seattle City Council Monday afternoon that the face of the state Route 99 tunnel machine has to come off in order to repair its damaged machinery.

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SR 99 Tunnel Project
9:44 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Tunnel Tolling: Build It, And They Won't Come?

The Alaskan Way Viaduct section of state Route 99 is being replaced by a tunnel under downtown Seattle and will be partially paid for with toll revenues.
Credit Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Anyone who's hosted a party has probably had that panicky feeling beforehand: What if you throw a big party and nobody comes?

State transportation officials face a similar worry: What if after they build a $3.1 billion underground highway to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, not enough people use it?

Build It And They Won't Come?

The state Legislature has decreed that tolls have to pay for $200 million of the state Route 99 tunnel's construction cost.

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