Rick Fredericksen


Rick Fredericksen is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio.  He has been producing the Iowa Archives series since 2007. Rick joined Iowa Public Radio in 1995 after 13 years abroad. Prior to joining IPR, Rick worked in commercial radio and TV in Iowa and Hawaii. For 10 years, he was bureau chief for CBS News in Bangkok, Thailand, covering stories throughout Southeast Asia. He received a Peabody Award in 1989, for CBS radio coverage of the Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing. He has also won numerous state, regional and national awards for his reporting. As a young Marine broadcaster, he covered the Vietnam War for the American Forces Vietnam Network in Saigon.

Rick attended the Department of Defense Information School in Indianapolis, and Drake University.

Rick’s favorite public radio program is River to River.

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John Pemble / Terrace Hill

Plans are underway to recover a part of Iowa's lost history buried next to the governor’s mansion in Des Moines, known as Terrace Hill. Administrators are preparing to exhume the old swimming pool which was built long before Iowa's first families moved in. 

Several thousand visitors tour the Victorian mansion every year. Among the sightseers this fall was a group of students from Runnells, with a volunteer guide pointing out the highlights.

"Okay, this is the moose. We call him Fred. Now that’s a big moose isn't it?"

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A long courtship between the state of Iowa and the southeast European country of Kosovo is about to become formal; the two governments are preparing to tie the diplomatic knot with the opening of the first foreign consulate in Iowa. 

Iowa is becoming part of Kosovo's modern history after years of conflict following the breakup of Yugoslavia. Kosovo's struggle for independence hit bottom in 1999, and NATO forces intervened on behalf of those who wanted autonomy from Yugoslavia. The struggle was given widespread news coverage.

Steven Starnes

All his life, Steven Starnes, who lives in northern Iowa, was told to stay away from his father’s collection of old audio tapes. After being boxed up for two generations, the recordings have been brought back to life unlocking a love affair that goes back to the Vietnam War.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Within two years, the historic Veterans Administration campus in Knoxville will be vacant for the first time since President Hoover created the VA 75 years ago. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa National Guard has based helicopters in Boone since 1954. Today, that city is home for the state's only assault helicopter unit. But now, Boone faces the possibility of losing its decorated aviation wing. As Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen reports, residents are fighting to keep their Black Hawk helicopters.

Boone is foremost a railroad town and known as the birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower. It also has a key role in national security, with some 500 soldiers and aviation personnel based at the Boone Armory.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Among other things, the Iowa State Fair is identified with its buildings: from the enormous Grandstand to the dignified Pioneer Hall. Officials have launched a campaign to restore one of the fair's most unlikely architectural treasurers: the Sheep Barn. Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen has the story.

The brick barn dates back to 1915 and hundreds of thousands of curious fairgoers, if not millions, have walked through the sprawling shelter to gawk, some of them with video cameras rolling.

City of Woolstock

  A new distinction for an Iowan best known as Superman; a town sign now proclaims Woolstock as the birthplace of actor George Reeves. The story from Rick Fredericksen. 

A renovated town sign now displays a photo of George Reeves and honors him as a humanitarian, veteran and actor.  In the 1950s, he was the original TV Superman but appeared in more than 40 movies. Reeves historian Veronica Guyader says he was always concerned about being stereotyped.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

An Iowa man grew up playing in one of the coolest hide-outs around: an old-fashioned, vacant grain elevator. Today, he is restoring it as a tribute to early American agriculture. Phase one has been completed and Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen was there for the dramatic finish. 


We continue our job series with a comeback story; the revival of an industry lost long ago, and how one Iowa company is making it work all over again. The story from Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen.

It was the original form of mass transit in cities and towns across America. In 1944, the musical Meet Me in St. Louis celebrated the trolley car era when commuters climbed aboard electric street cars.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

At the Iowa Capitol this evening (July 5), the Des Moines Metro Concert Band will close out its 69th season. It will include patriotic tunes, as usual, and something else that is fairly recent: a pitch for donations to keep the historic band going. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports. 

It started as the Des Moines Municipal Band Project, presenting 55 musicians, with celebrity announcers and guest soloists, including song birds, an occasional loud motorcycle and freight train whistles. It continues to provide family entertainment as it has for generations.

Iowa Egg Council

It will cost more, but the Iowa Egg Council will continue its tradition of giving away eggs-on-a-stick at the State Fair next month. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

After avian flu wiped out so many of Iowa’s egg-laying hens, prices soared, leaving consumers bewildered. According to Katie Coyle of the Iowa Egg Council, continuing the State Fair promotion is a chance to show Iowa that “we’re still here.”

Des Moines Metro Band archives

Two free concerts will bookend the 4th of July weekend at the State Capitol. Tonight, it’s the Des Moines Symphony’s Yankee Doodle Pops. Sunday evening, the Des Moines Metro Concert Band will take the stage. The Metro Band is concluding its 69th season and Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen prepared this Iowa Archives special, with technical assistance from John Pemble.

A couple hours after rehearsal at Drake University, the Des Moines Metro Concert Band relocates to the Iowa Capitol; the song birds and all the musicians are in tune for another Sunday evening performance.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Among other things, Iowa is famous for corn, insurance and presidential campaigns. Perhaps the state’s most unknown creation is almost ready for shipment abroad. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports from Ida County.

A former National Guard Armory is where relics of history are resurrected on the edge of Ida Grove. Wood workers are trimming, routing and varnishing rafters and decorative trim for an old fashioned trolley car, the kind of transportation that used to be common. Grant Godbersen is Vice President of Gomaco Trolley Company.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A squadron of brand new military helicopters could soon be based at the Des Moines Airport. The Iowa National Guard has started receiving the latest model of Black Hawks (UH-60 Mike), to replace older aircraft that have been based in Boone. The Des Moines air base has available hanger space to keep the expensive choppers protected from inclement weather, according to Warrant Officer Joedy Vanvelzen.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Construction and training are progressing as the Iowa Air National Guard moves into the final year of its conversion at the Des Moines Airport. After losing its squadron of F-16 fighter jets, the unit now has three new missions: intelligence, cyber security and flying unmanned aircraft. Col. Greg Hapgood is Guard spokesman.  

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Our Memorial Day special is a compilation of unique recordings showcasing Iowa’s proud contributions to music history. If you are unfamiliar with Iowa Archives, the music special is a good place to start; it exemplifies our goals of finding, broadcasting and preserving Iowa’s rich history in sound. First broadcast in 2012.

This Iowa Archives program features sound clips of Glenn Miller, the Everly Brothers, Meredith Willson, Andy Williams, Karl King, George Reeves, the Omaha Indians, and more. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

While many Iowans will enjoy a cold beer over the Memorial Day holiday, a beer ingredient will be getting all the attention near Solon in eastern Iowa.  The state’s largest hops farm is being planted this weekend and Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen has the story.

Photo Courtesy of Rick Fredericksen

The Iowa Public Radio series Iowa Archives turns 8 this year and the project's producer, IPR's Rick Fredericksen, has tapped a lot of what's readily available and he's asking listeners for any old sound they might have. Fredericksen recaps some of Iowa Archive's highlights with Morning Edition Host Clay Masters. 

Fredericksen will host an hour special featuring the best of Iowa Archives music on Memorial Day at 10 a.m.  

If you have some audio Rick might find interesting, e-mail him at rfredericksen@iowapublicradio.org.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Five years after it was initially confirmed in Iowa, the Emerald Ash Borer is on the door step of Des Moines, the state's largest city. The pest has finally entered Polk County and Rick Fredericksen has the story.

Infested ash trees have been discovered in West Des Moines and Urbandale. For Des Moines property owners, now is time for treatment. But Iowa State University entomologist Mark Shour urges caution to avoid high pressure tactics.  

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Tears were shed for Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day in Des Moines yesterday, as the 867th name was unveiled on the monument honoring Iowa’s war dead. Rick Fredericksen reports. 

It took six years before Douglas Peterson died of his combat injuries. His mother wept, his father sat peacefully; the family had driven in from Fairfield for the emotional ceremony. Sister Karen said Doug’s name is where it belongs, with his brothers.

“It’s been a long time. It's closure. It's done. We're proud of him.” 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Forty years after his death, the name of an Iowa soldier was unveiled today on the state’s Vietnam War Monument. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

Fairfield native Douglas Peterson was severely wounded in 1969, but held on for six years of medical care and surgeries before those injuries took his life. His name was on "The Wall" in Washington, but the long paper trail complicated his inclusion here, until now. Peterson’s sister Karen spoke for the family.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A new museum exhibit opens this morning in Johnston, honoring veterans of the Vietnam War. It was financed by an appreciative Iowan who was unable to serve because of football injuries. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports.

Gene Gabus auctioned off his family’s antique cars in donating $250,000 for the Gold Star Military Museum’s Vietnam War display. Upset by the disrespect shown to returning veterans, Gabus says the exhibit is meant as a tribute.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Four decades after the Vietnam War ended, a new exhibit opened this morning at the Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports. 

All of the icons are here: a Huey helicopter, Ho Chi Minh sandals, M-16 rifles, napalm, a captured North Vietnamese flag, and even a life-like patch of jungle. Former POW Brad Whitmore from Storm Lake was among the first veterans to see the exhibit.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Web Extra: Reflections from Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, who recounts his prediction on the fall of Saigon soon after returning from an assessment in Vietnam; a time when many diplomats were in denial. His prophecy was validated on April 30th, 1975.  

Quinn, who is the former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, is now president of the World Found Prize Foundation in Des Moines. He is the only civilian to win the U.S. Army Air Medal. After the Vietnam War, he spearheaded Governor Ray’s campaign to welcome Southeast Asian refugees to Iowa.

Douglas Potratz / Fall of Saigon Marines Association

On this date 40 years ago, two marines were killed in Saigon, including an Iowan; the last American combat deaths of the Vietnam War. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports on a memorial to be dedicated in their honor.

Marshalltown native Darwin Judge and fellow marine Charles McMahon were guarding an airport gate during the final evacuation when their position was shelled. A bronze plaque will be unveiled in their memory tonight. Douglas Potratz is heading a delegation from The Fall of Saigon Marines Association.

All photos are courtesy Roy R. Beherns

Camouflage. It has invaded our everyday wardrobe; from dessert tan, to jungle green and an array of bewildering designs. 100 years ago next month, a maritime disaster helped bring urgency to improving military camouflage and several Iowans were among those joining the cause. This Iowa Archives special was prepared by IPR’s Rick Fredericksen.  

Seventy years ago, Walt Disney was producing propaganda films during World War Two. This cartoon advocates a defensive tactic that goes back to the beginning of life. 

Chris Fredericksen / Family archives

A newly-translated diary describes a Danish emigrant's journey to America 108 years ago. He came aboard the doomed ocean liner Lusitania when it was brand new. IPR's Rick Fredericksen tells his grandfather's story in the centennial year of the historic sinking of the Lusitania.

Just like today’s emigrants, Europeans came to America long ago in search of a better life. Ellis Island remains an iconic symbol and a favorite landmark for documentarians.

“Tens of millions of us have relatives who came this way, part of the largest human migration in history.”

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Expanded diary quotes from Chris Fredericksen's journey aboard the Lusitania in 1907. The Danish emigrant would later settle in Harlan, Iowa.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A new “Heritage Byway” could soon be coming to Iowa. Extending from Northwood, down to Lamoni, the Jefferson Highway will soon be 100 years old, and promoters are working to keep the legend alive. 

Around 17,000 vehicles a day travel between Indianola and Des Moines on Highway 65-69. Old-timers knew it as the Jefferson Highway. Long before Interstate-35, it was the nation’s primary north-south road, from Winnipeg to New Orleans. The various routes still exist, but the historical meaning is quickly fading.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A murky story continues to baffle amateur historians in the Loess Hills. It stretches back to early statehood, when a pioneer settled in Monona County and gathered workers on his farmstead. Now, there’s an effort to bring notoriety to a one-acre plot that served as a communal burial ground. 

A tale of truth and hearsay come together at this isolated cemetery between the towns of Turin and Moorhead. Retired businessman Harold Johnston gives tours of the Loess Hills, and this is one of his favorite stops.