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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Work Safety
9:20 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Feds Ban Free Climbing By Electric Utility Workers

Seattle City Light lineworkers 180 feet above the Seattle Ship Canal in 2011.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

The Obama Administration is putting an end to the common practice of "free climbing" by electrical lineworkers. Seattle City Light and other electric utilities let their lineworkers climb transmission towers without using safety harnesses.

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Megaprojects
9:58 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Seattle Tunnel Partner Wins $80 Million Dispute Over Boston’s Big Dig

Road signs from Boston's Big Dig.
Flickr Photo/Nantaskart!

One of the two companies attempting to dig a highway tunnel beneath the Seattle waterfront has won an $80 million dispute with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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Delivery Testing
3:57 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Amazon: Send In The Drones (And The Lobbyists)

This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs.
Amazon handout

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is seeking permission to send unmanned aircraft into the skies. The company has asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to test its delivery-by-drone system.

The Seattle retailer has been testing drones indoors in Seattle, but it needs a federal exemption to test them outside. The company tells the FAA it wants to test drones on its own property “near Seattle.”

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Shoreline
10:15 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Lottery Winner Fined For Illegal Land Clearing On San Juan Island

The cleared property in December.
Washington Department of Ecology

Washington state officials have fined a Virginia man $79,000 for illegal clearing of a San Juan Island shoreline.

It’s trouble Dave Honeywell of Fredericksburg, Virginia, wouldn’t have gotten into if he hadn’t just won the lottery.

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Industrial Disaster
8:37 pm
Sun July 6, 2014

Four Years After Deadly Blast, Tesoro Mostly Unscathed

Charred towers and machinery at the Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes, Washington, following the blast.
Credit AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

It was the state’s worst industrial accident in nearly 50 years.

On a chilly April night in 2010, a giant fireball lit up the sky above Anacortes, Washington. A southeast wind pushed a plume of black smoke toward the heart of this seaside town an hour north of Seattle.

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Risk Management
4:41 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Snohomish County Revisits Development In Landslide Zones

How to keep a county that is still reeling from a deadly landslide safe from future landslides?

Environmentalists' and developers' conflicting answers to that question will get a full airing on Wednesday at the Snohomish County Council in Everett. The council is holding a special hearing on ways to reduce the chances of new homes being put in where landslides might take them out.

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News
1:49 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Report: Agency Blocked Urgent Recommendations For Tesoro Refinery Safety

Tesoro's Anacortes oil refinery in May.
Credit KUOW/John Ryan photo

In the months following a deadly refinery explosion in Anacortes, Washington, in April 2010, federal investigators with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board were ready to issue urgent safety recommendations. But management at the agency blocked the release of their urgent alert.

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Volcano Research
8:53 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Scientists Take A Look Deep Beneath Mount St. Helens

The crater of Mount St. Helens.
Courtesy of Dan Miskimin

If you're hiking in the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in July or August, and you feel the earth rumble briefly, it could just be scientists trying to plumb the depths of the Northwest’s most active volcano.

Scientists are peppering Mount St. Helens with thousands of sensitive instruments this summer to understand what makes the volcano tick.

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Boring Bertha
12:00 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Officials: Bertha, World's Largest Tunnel Machine, Will Be More Robust

The guts of Bertha, the tunnel boring machine.
Credit Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The builders of the tunnel machine stuck beneath the Seattle waterfront don’t just plan to repair the world’s largest tunnel machine.

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Labor
8:13 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Signature Campaign Begins For $15 Minimum Wage Initiative

Jess Spear of the 15 Now campaign and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant outside the downtown Seattle McDonald’s.
Credit KUOW/John Ryan

Minimum-wage activists launched their signature-gathering campaign for a ballot initiative outside the downtown Seattle McDonald's Thursday.

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Unstable Slopes
5:43 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

DNR Promises Tighter Controls On Logging Near Landslide Zones

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 the March 22, 2014, Oso landslide.
Credit Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington State officials announced new restrictions on logging near landslide zones Friday afternoon.

The change in policy comes six weeks after a landslide near the town of Oso killed at least 41 people.

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Western State Hospital
6:04 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Audit Dings Hospital's 50-Year Practice Of Paid 'Transition Time'

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
Credit John Ryan / KUOW

State auditors say Western State Hospital has been losing about $800,000 a year paying for work that's not being done. For decades, the hospital has been letting hundreds of employees start late and leave early -- and still paying for their time.

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Workplace Safety
1:48 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Feds Urge Tighter Refinery Regulations After Fatal Tesoro Blast

Chemical Safety Board investigators inspect wreckage at the Tesoro-Anacortes refinery in 2010.
Chemical Safety Board

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is calling for 60 improvements in the design, operation and regulation of the Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes and of refineries nationwide.

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Light Rail
7:48 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Tunnel Machine Set To Dig Under Seattle, But It's Not Bertha

The machine Sound Transit is using to dig a light-rail tunnel from Northgate to the University of Washington in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A tunnel machine is set to resume digging beneath the streets of Seattle in mid-June.

No, it's not Bertha. It's Brenda.

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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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