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. 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

Crowds of homeless people often gather on the sidewalks of downtown Seattle near social-service providers.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The ranks of the homeless continue to swell in King County. An overnight count found 3,772 people living on the streets — a 21 percent increase since last January.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the county in the wee hours of Friday morning to take count of the region's rising homeless population.

KUOW photo/John Ryan

Seattle City Council has put new restrictions on who gets to work on the city’s construction projects. Under legislation passed Tuesday, 20 percent of workers on public works projects will need to live in disadvantaged ZIP codes in King County. That percentage has to double over the next decade. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

A Seattle homeless camp's eviction notice.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Even as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan on Wednesday to establish new tent cities for Seattle's growing homeless population, homeless people were being evicted from their camps on public property in the city.  

Such evictions occur almost daily in a city where the demand for shelter outstrips the supply, especially for those who need it most.

U.S. Coast Guard/Travis Marsh

The Seattle Port Commission decided on Tuesday to let Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet use West Seattle as its home port.

Shell's drill rigs and barges would overwinter at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 in West Seattle while the terminal is being renovated.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Sixty-four people died on the job in Washington state in 2014, more than in any of the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. The fatal incidents varied widely, from an ironworker falling off a roof on Jan. 6 to a logging truck driver being run over by his own truck on Dec. 30.

Capitol Hill's Neighbours nightclub.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

County prosecutors filed double the number of charges for hate crimes in 2014 as they did in other recent years.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has filed 18 cases this year for "malicious harassment," the state's legal term for hate crimes. That's double the amount in 2012 and in 2013. Just seven cases were filed in 2011, according to spokesman Dan Donohoe.

An oil tanker and a container ship about to cross paths near Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Oil tankers bring about 15 million gallons of oil every day into Washington state. Starting Jan. 1, those ships are required to have double hulls.

The oil-spill prevention measure has been in the works for decades, ever since Capt. Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez onto Alaska's Bligh Reef in 1989. Eleven million gallons of oil spilled into Prince William Sound, killing thousands of seabirds and sea otters, devastating the region's fisheries and unleashing action in Washington, D.C.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

Eddy Mahon says the Aloha Inn saved his life.

Each day, thousands of people speed by the run-down old motel on Highway 99 just south of Seattle's Aurora Bridge. It's no longer a motel. Now it's a place where homeless people can stay for up to two years and get help while they try to get back on their feet; there's a long waiting list to get in. Mahon manages the Aloha.

He told his story to KUOW's John Ryan.

A condemned house on the edge of the Ledgewood Beach landslide on Whidbey Island.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

new report from the SR 530 Landslide Commission makes 17 recommendations for improving public safety in a state that is dotted with landslide-prone slopes. Recommendations range from mapping Washington state's most dangerous ground in detail to improving emergency response.

The independent commission set up in response to the deadly March 22 Oso landslide says more money is needed to prepare for slides statewide.

The hole built to rescue Bertha, the deep boring machine.
WSDOT webcam

  Much of Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood has sunk an inch or more, according to a map released by state transportation officials on Thursday.

The sinking is greatest next to a 120-foot-deep pit being dug to rescue the broken-down tunnel machine known as Bertha. There, the ground has sunk 1.4 inches.

Areas more than a quarter mile away from the pit have sunk by half an inch or more.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT

Transportation officials say a stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct settled an inch last month.

They told state legislators Friday that there is no risk to public safety from the newly discovered subsidence of the elevated highway. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The viaduct sank an inch during a two-week span in November, right next to a giant shaft that's being dug near King Street and Yesler Way.

That access shaft is needed to dig up and repair the tunneling machine known as Bertha.

Tent City 3 resident and executive committee member Jeff Roderick
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Seattle Pacific University will become a home for the homeless this winter. Starting next week, the school is set to host the camp known as Tent City 3. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A state commission on landslides is urging nearly two dozen improvements in the way Washington state prepares for and responds to landslides.

Statewide mapping of landslide hazards, better funding and coordination for emergency responders, and "innovative" land-use regulations to improve public safety top the commission's preliminary list.

KUOW/John Ryan photo

The Seattle City Council has approved spending $100,000 to support homeless camps next year, like the one that sprang up on a busy sidewalk in front of the University District post office in September. That camp has since moved to the parking lot of the University Congregational United Church of Christ a few blocks away.

Twenty men, women and children now make a home out of eight parking spaces.

Every day at noon, residents of the tent village that calls itself The Ave Foundation hold a meeting to work through problems and assign chores. They call it their "family meeting."

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Rents are rising sharply in Seattle, and the city has launched another effort to tackle the shortage of affordable housing.

At an Ethiopian community center in the Rainier Valley, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's new affordable housing committee tried Wednesday night to take the pulse of a community hit hard by housing costs.

The 28-member committee's first open house began slowly as a consultant showed the multicultural audience how to use handheld electronic clickers to take part in an instant survey.

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