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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Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Friday is Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day. A granite plaque will be dedicated at the Statehouse to honor Iowa war casualties from secondary causes: like PTSD, suicide and Agent Orange. That's a controversial chemical that some people feel may now be sickening Iowans who are the children and grandchildren of Vietnam vets. They're calling for more studies on the chemical's effects. 

Victor Daly / Ft. Des Moines Museum

Nearly 100 years after the Army's first black officers' training program debuted in Iowa, dozens of old photographs have been discovered showing what life was like when Fort Des Moines was gearing up for World War I. 

The country's oldest African American fraternity returned to its early roots this month when the Fort Des Moines Museum welcomed members of Alpha Phi Alpha in remembering their brothers from generations ago. In 1917, the national fraternity helped recruit black college students to become officers, and a racial barrier was broken. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Low electric rates in Iowa are being touted by none other than billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company owns MidAmerican Energy. Rick Fredericksen has the story.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa's most exotic hospital is open for business in Des Moines and visitors will soon be able to watch surgeries and other procedures from a special viewing area. The story from Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen.

This sparking new facility resembles most any modern medical center; from the surgical suite to the laboratory and pharmacy. One big difference: this hospital is equipped with a tranquilizer gun and a shotgun cabinet just in case a patient goes rogue. Welcome to Blank Park Zoo, where Dr. June Olds is senior veterinarian.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The State of Iowa will be touting a new living arrangement for retirement communities when the Governor's Conference on Aging meets in Des Moines this May. It centers on a 21 year old college student who moved into an Urbandale senior living residence this winter. 

Music major Haley Jenkins moved into her new apartment at the Deerfield Retirement Community in early January. She gets free accommodations in exchange for regular live performances. A typical neighbor could be four times her age. Lisa Ryan is with Deerfield's parent company, Lifespace Communities.

Courtesy Will Thomson

An Iowa City designer, who specializes in museum exhibits, is putting the final touches on his latest creation: a realistic portrayal of trench warfare during World War One. It's at the Gold Star Museum in Johnston.

There are no more living veterans of World War One, but just in time for the 99th anniversary of America's involvement, Iowans will soon be able to experience what combat was like in the safety of a museum. Will Thomson teaches exhibit design at the University of Iowa.

Iowa Air National Guard

An old F-100 jet fighter has been saved from the graveyard for old military aircraft and will soon be on display at the Air National Guard Headquarters in Maryland. The preservation was a homecoming for a team of specialists in Sioux City.

For 15 years, the Iowa Air National Guard Paint Facility has quietly been spray painting aircraft. It's not your neighborhood body shop; it's the only one like this in the nation according to Colonel Larry Christensen, commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

As Iowans ponder their favorite candidate in the nation's first test of presidential contenders, a curious collection of political memorabilia is being assembled in Des Moines. The goal is to preserve the history of Iowa’s caucuses. 

For 44 years, more than 100 presidential hopefuls have tried to win the Iowa caucuses; their story is being amassed by curator Hope Grebner.

"We are actually inside the climate controlled storage area at the Drake University archives in Cowles Library."

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Three Iowans have died from influenza this season, but the overall activity involving flu-like illness remains light. The mild weather may be a contributing factor, according to Patricia Quinlisk at the Department of Public Health.

"We've had flu around Iowa for about a month, a month and a half now, we've certainly had people hospitalized, but it’s been staying at a pretty low level, probably part of that is we've just been so warm. We know that the flu really likes cold weather."

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa's network of highway rest areas is more popular than ever, but in recent years the comfort stops have taken on the look and feel of truck stops. It's a symptom of a worsening problem that is getting new attention. 

Vacationing families and long distance travelers have enjoyed the convenience of rest stops for 50 years. Iowa now has 38, fully-equipped with bathrooms, vending machines and picnic areas. During certain hours of the day they're crowded with many more 18-wheelers than cars. Dennis Mabie is a rest area manager for the Department of Transportation.

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.

Paul 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.”