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

Recording in the KUOW studio on University Way in Seattle.
KUOW File Photo

A campaign to save public radio station KPLU got under way on Monday.

Fans of KPLU now have until June 30 to raise at least $7 million.

Campaigners for a carbon tax delivered signatures to the Washington Secretary of State Wednesday, right before the year-end deadline. Their ballot initiative aims to cut the state's sales tax and business and occupations tax and replace the lost revenue with a tax on the carbon dioxide emissions that are changing the planet's climate.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Washington Department of Corrections learned in 2012 that the software it was using to calculate prisoners' time off for good behavior was letting some prisoners out too soon. A possible fix to that computer error was delayed 16 separate times, Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke said Tuesday.

Flickr photo/Philip Cohen (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Washington corrections officials say they've identified 27 former prison inmates who were released too soon and need to be re-arrested.

William Wells raises a weather balloon for launch on St. Paul Island, Alaska.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

William Wells dashes out into a 30-knot wind, releases a huge balloon and watches it whip toward the endless whitecaps of the Bering Sea.

It’s all in a day’s work at what may be the nation's most remote weather station.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

studio record
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Fans of KPLU are expressing delight at news that the public radio station might not disappear after all.

Hundreds of KPLU listeners have been fighting the station's proposed sale to competing public radio station KUOW and its license holder, the University of Washington. This week they won a key victory.

studio record
KUOW Photo

Public radio listeners who oppose the sale of KPLU are getting a chance to try to raise the money necessary to buy the station. 

The Centralia Big Hanaford plant is the only coal-fired plant in Washington state. It also has natural gas-fired units.
Flickr photo/Kid Clutch (CC BY 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1SXOE9R

Microsoft and Starbucks have joined other global businesses in going beyond the Paris climate deal by pledging to use only climate-friendly electricity.

But other well-known names among Washington state’s biggest companies haven’t signed on.

Activists deliver a petition asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

While the world's richest man was meeting with world leaders in Paris at the global climate summit, climate activists marched on his foundation's Seattle headquarters Monday.

Courtesy Washington Environmental Council

Microsoft is investing in 520 acres of forest land next to Mount Rainier National Park – but not to turn it into another corporate campus.

The software giant is trying to offset its carbon emissions by buying carbon credits.

On St. Paul Island in Alaska's Pribilofs, this is no empty slogan. The health of the islands' bird populations might depend on keeping rats away.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

Biologists and tribal officials in the Bering Sea off the west coast of Alaska are working to protect one of the world's greatest gatherings of seabirds.

With a little unwilling help from wharf rats in Alaska's Dutch Harbor, the nation's busiest fishing port, they aim to keep rats as far away as Seattle from devouring the birds of the rat-free Pribilof Islands.

The drilling rig Noble Discoverer is shown in Alaska's Dutch Harbor before it went to the Arctic.
KUCB photo/John Ryan

Shell's two Arctic oil rigs pulled into Unalaska's Dutch Harbor on Sunday, some 1,100 miles south of the company's drilling site in the Chukchi Sea.

While Shell spokeswoman Megan Baldino said the rigs' final destinations are still being determined, they will not be returning to Seattle.

The drilling rig Noble Discoverer is shown in Alaska's Dutch Harbor before it went to the Arctic.
KUCB photo

After sinking eight years and more than $8 billion into the effort, Shell Oil is pulling out of the Arctic Ocean, the company says.

The USS Seawolf in Unalaska Bay on Aug. 14, 2015.
KUCB Photo/John Ryan

A U.S. Navy submarine pulled into Unalaska Bay near the town landfill Friday morning. The sub made no contact with the Port of Dutch Harbor, according to Harbor Master John Days.

It did communicate with the Royal Pacific, a boat hauling wastewater from the Unisea fish-processing plant, as they were crossing paths.

Two teenagers in Kivalina, Alaska, play near a skinned polar bear. Scientists predict Kivalina, an Alaskan village, will be the first casualty of climate change and sea rising in the U.S.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska later this month.

The White House released a video Thursday morning to explain why he will be the first sitting president to visit Alaska’s Arctic. 

The folksy video (it starts with the president saying, “Hi, everybody”) features dripping glaciers, raging wildfires and Alaska Natives hanging salmon to dry.

Mihey Basargin of Wasilla on the docks in Dutch Harbor after being rescued.
KUCB Photo/John Ryan

Lt. Commander Kimberly Hess watched the cliff. 

That kept her steady, she said, as she fought a swirling 30-knot tailwind and lowered the Coast Guard chopper to the sea below, where two stranded fishermen had been waiting for eight hours in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

One day a year, it's a lot easier for homeless people in Snohomish County to get some basic things that you might take for granted. Things like shoes, backpacks or pet care.  

More than a thousand people lined up outside an elementary school in Everett on Thursday to get a little help.

Scientists and crew prepping the Healy for a voyage to the North Pole
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Shell Oil rig that left Elliott Bay last week isn't the only big vessel heading to the Arctic from Seattle. A Coast Guard icebreaker heads to Alaska on Wednesday. The Seattle-based ship will help a multinational team of scientists explore pollution at the North Pole.

Climate change has fueled competition at the top of the world, where shipping and resource extraction are becoming feasible for the first time. With a tiny fleet of icebreakers (the Coast Guard has just two in operation), the U.S. lags behind other nations. At last count, Russia has 41 icebreakers.

KUOW's John Ryan reports.

Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer left the Port of Seattle for Alaska on the morning of June 15, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Brian Gregory

Protesters in kayaks dogged Royal Dutch Shell’s huge oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer as it sailed out of Seattle’s Elliott Bay early Monday on a long voyage to the Arctic Ocean.

Dozens used kayaks to form lines in front of the 300-foot-tall rig as it left under heavy Coast Guard escort.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is on his way to Israel.

He's scheduled to lead a trade delegation of Seattle-area business leaders next week and to speak at a gay and lesbian conference on June 11 in Tel Aviv. 

The Polar Pioneer and hundreds of kayaking protesters on Seattle's Duwamish Waterway on May 16, 2015.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Shell Oil has rejected state officials' position that parking an Arctic oil rig at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 violates the state constitution.

Shell's Polar Pioneer rig has been at the port since mid-May. Its arrival in environmentally-minded Seattle has sparked protest and government scrutiny at various levels.

U.S. Coast Guard

A new report from The National Transportation Safety Board says poor planning and risk assessment by Shell Oil led to the wreck of the Kulluk oil rig off the coast of Alaska in December 2012.

A panhandler in Auburn, Washington.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Many cities around Washington state make it a crime to do things that everyone does but that homeless people have to do in public – like sitting down, sleeping, going to the bathroom or asking for help.

No city has more laws against these activities than Auburn, a southern suburb of Seattle.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State officials said Friday that it's unconstitutional for Shell Oil to store its Arctic drilling rig at the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way.

In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle's Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It's a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil's plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle's most popular sites for scuba diving. 

Arctic drilling protesters at the Port of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Hundreds of protesters blocked entrance gates to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle for most of the day Monday.

The climate activists intended not just to gain publicity but to stop work on the Polar Pioneer, an Arctic drilling rig that arrived at Terminal 5 on Thursday.

John Ryan / KUOW

Seattle planning officials say the Arctic drill rig at the Port of Seattle has to leave or get a new permit by June 4. 

The city issued a notice of violation to the Port of Seattle, Shell Oil and Foss Maritime on Monday afternoon.

The notice says the port's permit is only good for cargo ships, not oil rigs like the Polar Pioneer.

Are consumers really the ones to blame for Arctic oil drilling?
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

City inspectors with the Department of Planning and Development paid a visit to Shell’s Polar Pioneer oil rig within 24 hours of its arrival in Seattle.

They had a look around the rig, parked at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5, for possible permit violations on Friday.

As the energy giant Shell moves floating drill rigs from shipyards in Asia to Alaska's north coast, hundreds of kayakers took to the water in a flotilla of protest.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

In some ways, this protest was like any other: banners everywhere, with messages like "Climate Justice" and "Shell No." 

But there were sounds you don't hear at the usual Seattle demonstration: Splashing and clanking sounds as boats moved through downtown waters.

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