John Ryan | KUOW News and Information

John Ryan

Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2009

John welcomes story ideas and feedback from listeners. Email him at jryan@kuow.org or call him at 206-543-0637. For secure, confidential communication, he's at 1-401-405-1206 on the Signal messaging app, or you can send snail mail (but don't put your return address on the outside) to John Ryan, KUOW, 4518 Univ. Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105.

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. 

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

Ways to Connect

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. 

Hackers target Washington election systems

Sep 30, 2016

Washington's voter registration system has been targeted by cyber attackers, state elections officials have told KUOW. Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Friday afternoon the attackers appeared to be the same people who targeted Arizona earlier this year.

KUOW Photo / John Ryan

Forty-four people lost their homes on Tuesday when a Seattle Housing Authority apartment building in West Seattle caught fire. Twenty-eight of them, mostly women and children, have been sleeping in a gymnasium at the Delridge Community Center, and wondering where they'll go next.

Grizz, the author's cat. This photo makes sense if you read the story.
KUOW Photo/Abraham Epton

Elections are big business, with consultants, campaign staffers, advertising firms and TV stations raking in big bucks. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Sound Transit's newest light rail station opened Saturday at Angle Lake, just south of Sea-Tac International Airport, to live music, dance troupes and protests.

Kitsap Transit

A Seattle-area transit initiative takes in money from real-estate interests who could profit if the initiative passes. Commuters would face higher taxes, but many could also get to work faster.

No, we’re not talking about the $54 billion proposal to expand Sound Transit service (that campaign has been largely funded by $1.1 million from the construction industry, with the real-estate sector coming in second.) 

Credit: Madrona Venture Group.

How to solve traffic problems on I-5? What about banning humans from driving on it? And replacing them with robots?

Screenshot of Mass Transit Now ad on Facebook

Construction firms and other big businesses have pumped more than $2 million into the campaign to pass a Sound Transit ballot measure this fall.

While Microsoft is the biggest single donor, at $300,000, the construction industry has the most invested in the transit measure passing: $1.1 million and counting.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg waves after speaking to delegates during the third day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Wednesday, July 27, 2016.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg has waded a quarter-million dollars deeper into Washington state politics.

Bloomberg gave $248,000 to Washington Democrats on Sept. 7, according to the latest reports filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Habib and McClendon campaigns

The race for Washington's lieutenant governor is usually kind of a snooze, but not this year.

One candidate has raised a record sum ($723,000) in pursuit of that little-noticed post, with nearly half his campaign cash coming from outside Washington state.


Close to $100 million has gone into this year's elections in Washington state so far, all aiming to influence you and your neighbors' votes.

That's just one of the things your official voters' guide won't tell you, but KUOW's new Field Guide to Influence will. The Field Guide lets you see the largely hidden actors trying to sway your vote behind the scenes.


Today President Trump called recent anti-Semitic incidents “horrible” and “painful”
Photo via Flickr creative commons Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Despite sagging support in Washington state, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to make appearances here Tuesday at a rally in Everett and a fundraiser at an undisclosed location in the Seattle area.

Angelo Paparella, whose firm PCI, has organized signature gathering campaigns for many initiatives in Washington state.
Courtesy of Angelo Paparella

You may not have ever heard his name, but Angelo Paparella has had a hand in most of the initiatives on your November ballot.

Over the past 15 years, Paparella’s firm has made more money in Washington elections than initiative king Tim Eyman and his associates.

U.S. range of the mosquitoes that can spread Zika and other diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It’s a low-tech approach to fighting the Zika virus: a mosquito trap made of a bucket, screens and a glue strip. The black, five-gallon trap uses water and the smell of hay to lure mosquitoes.

The technology comes from a firm in Woodinville, and researchers there say it works.


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

Donald Trump has been widely criticized for making offensive statements about Mexicans, but he is not the only politically active figure who has made such statements.


KUOW Photo/John Ryan

If you look at your voters' pamphlet and see page after page of candidates trying to win your vote, you might think democracy is strong in Washington state. KUOW looked at the money behind the candidates and found there's much less competition — much less democracy — than meets the eye.

Tesoro workers killed in a 2010 refinery explosion are commemorated outside city hall in Everett, Washington.
KUOW Photo / Bond Huberman

A nearly six-year-long legal battle drew to a close Thursday when attorneys made their final arguments on whether Texas oil company Tesoro is responsible for an explosion that killed seven workers at its refinery in Anacortes, Washington, in 2010.


KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Texas oil company Tesoro and the purchaser of one of its refineries have agreed to spend $403 million to reduce air pollution at oil refineries in six western states under an agreement announced by the Justice Department on Monday.

COASST / Cliff Brown

Seabirds have been washing up dead on beaches in Washington and British Columbia this summer, and scientists can't say why.

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