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.

Ways to Connect

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.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

One of the biggest stories concerning Iowa’s natural resources last year was the onslaught of an insect that will wipe out tens of millions of ash trees across the state. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen closed out 2014 with a field trip to a forest south of Des Moines, known as “ground zero.”

Four of us climbed aboard an all-terrain vehicle for an excursion along remote hillsides, across ravines, and over a creek, arriving in a densely timbered patch of eastern Lucas County. Jeremy Cochran is District Forester for the Department of Natural Resources.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The Emerald Ash Borer now has a foothold in Iowa’s woodlands. Officials have confirmed the destructive beetle is present in ash trees across five new counties. Rick Fredericksen has the story.

So far, the destructive pest has been mostly found in urban areas. Now, experts have revealed the state's largest woodland infestation; starting in eastern Lucas County and invading the adjacent counties of Mahaska, Marion, Monroe, and Appanoose. One official found infected ash trees for mile after mile. Paul Tauke is State Forester.

Polaris Industries

You probably haven’t seen one yet, but the newest motor vehicle made exclusively in Iowa is set to go global next year. The story from Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen.

It is called the “Slingshot,” a futuristic-looking, three-wheeled vehicle that is part car and part motorcycle. Polaris Industries is now in full production at Spirit Lake, having added 300 workers in the factory that also builds Indian and Victory motorcycles. Chris Doucet is Commercial Director of Slingshot.

Gold Star Museum

Tomorrow (Dec. 16) marks the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s last ditch campaign to save Nazi Germany.  A surprise attack on Allied forces in a sprawling forest over Western Europe would become known as the “Battle of the Bulge.” Americans are remembering the largest land battle of World War Two.

Americans took the brunt of the German offensive, as the enemy stormed through Allied forces, forming a bulge in the front line. The winter of 1944 was one of the harshest in European history.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The golf clubs may be stored away until next spring, but some of Iowa’s 400 golf courses are still buzzing with activity, especially in a suburb of Des Moines. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen has the story from Norwalk.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The early snowfall signals that Iowa’s road construction season is winding down. IPR’s Rick Fredericksen reports one of the year’s biggest projects is set for completion next week. 

A $700-million budget makes this the most costly road building year in history. The massive widening project along I-35, near Iowa’s largest shopping center in West Des Moines, is set for completion next week. Mark Bortle is with the Department of Transportation.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

A new Iowa pronunciation guide has been launched; an online service where you can hear how locals pronounce their cities and towns. It’s the brainchild of a classical music producer on the radio, and Rick Fredericksen has his story.

Is it (EE-lee) or (EE-leye). (Less Hills), or (Luss Hills).  For announcers on the radio, this is treacherous territory.

"When you mispronounce an Iowa place name you’re likely to get a phone call or email from someone who knows how to say it right.”

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The historic Fort Des Moines Museum is formally reopening tomorrow morning (11-11-14)  with a Veterans Day program and public tours. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen has the story.

The first class of black officers graduated at Fort Des Moines in WW1. The Army’s first women trained there in WW2. Despite its rich background, the Fort Des Moines Museum went into debt and even closed for a time. A Veterans Day ceremony will announce its rebirth, according to curator Jack Lufkin.

Ken Crouse / Fall of Saigon Marines Association

The last two Americans killed in the Vietnam War, including an Iowa man, will be memorialized at the site of the old US Embassy in Saigon.   

National Park Service

He was an engineer, a Quaker, and president of the United States. Fifty years ago today the only native Iowan to occupy in the White House was buried at his birthplace in West Branch. We reflect back on Herbert Hoover with historical recordings

The state’s most famous public servant died at the age of 90, and thousands of Iowans watched his final return home on this date in 1964.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Just outside Des Moines, in a building at Camp Dodge, medics and first responders are being trained under simulated battle conditions that look and sound like an episode of “Homeland,” or “24.” IPR’s Rick Fredericksen was there for the final exam.


Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Central Iowa officials are putting the brakes on a drive to designate a new interstate that wraps around Des Moines. The story from IPR’s Rick Fredericksen. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

He just could be the longest living animal in Iowa, not counting humans. His lifespan predates the end of World War Two and Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen found him living a life of luxury in Des Moines.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

One week from today (Sept. 12), a commemoration begins for the song most-identified with America. It’s the bicentennial of the Star-Spangled Banner and Iowans are getting ready for the nationwide observance. IPR’s Rick Fredericksen has the story, with a technical assist from John Pemble.

Will Thompson

Iowans know the story of the five Sullivan brothers who died when their ship was torpedoed in World War Two. Now, a different family loss, that was forgotten over time, is being revived by historians in southeast Iowa. 

Courtesy of Rick Fredericksen

Robin Williams' death earlier this week sparked many stories of how he touched the lives of his fans and the people he met.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

In this ‘digital age,’ from telephones to newspapers, there’s a rare magazine that is flourishing as a hard copy edition. Of all places, it is published by state government. We go inside Iowa Outdoors.

Capitol Mower

Jul 28, 2014
Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

You’ve never heard her name, but many Iowans admire her work; thousands have even sat on it.  Mattie McClure cuts the grass around the State Capitol and Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen found her on the west lawn.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It was 60 years ago when mental health professionals welcomed a new option for their patients. Instead of radical brain surgery and dangerous forms of shock treatment, doctors could prescribe a simple oral medication for the first time. An Iowa woman was a nurse during this crucial turning point and IPR’s Rick Fredericksen has her story. 

Iowa National Guard cameramen

Iowa's worst air disaster is being commemorated this coming weekend. It was 25 years ago when United Flight 232 wobbled into Sioux City for a crash landing that killed 112 passengers. Our historic sound project remembers that tragic day with audio recordings going back to July 19, 1989. Reporter Durrie Bouscaren contributed to this story.

Joe Noonan

We all make time saving short cuts every day, but none could compare to one of the most important short cuts in history. The Panama Canal turns 100 this summer and a massive expansion project has Iowans predicting good things on several fronts. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It could be Iowa’s next energy crop: a relative of sugar cane, that looks like bamboo. It’s about to become much more abundant in a state dominated by corn and soybeans. 

Scott Dahl / ISU Alumni Association

Iowa State University has found a silver lining in the infestation of beetles that are attacking ash trees. It’s a creative recycling story, reported by Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen. 

Day of Insects

Mar 30, 2014
Rickk Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

It sounds like the title of a horror movie, but the people who attended the “Day of Insects” have an appreciation for the six-legged creatures that we share our lives with. One specimen in particular, caught the attention of Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

From radical brain surgery, to drug therapy and meditation, Iowa veterans have done it all while coping with mental illness in the aftermath of war. Treatments have come a long way since lobotomies were performed on World War II vets in Knoxville.  

See the Wall Street Journal investigation

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Manufacturing continues to be the lead sector of the economy in Dickinson County, thanks, in part, to Polaris Industries. The company has been turning out Indian motorcycles for more than six months. Part two of a two-part story.