KMUN’s Joanne Rideout

Joanne Rideout is retiring from KMUN but will continue to produce ‘The Ship Report.’

ASTORIA — After nearly 20 years of bringing the morning news to the airwaves of Clatsop and Pacific counties, Joanne Rideout is looking forward to sleeping in.

Soon, Katie Frankowicz, a former reporter at the Chinook Observer and The Astorian, will be waking up early to take her place.

Rideout, a longtime news director at KMUN, is retiring in January.

“I’m just looking forward to sleeping late, and relaxing a bit and doing some things that I feel a lot of passion about,” she said.

A long ride in journalism

Rideout’s tenure at the community radio station began with a conversation between neighbors.

Before moving to Astoria in 2002, she worked as a freelance journalist for the Associated Press, national publications and local newspapers in Arizona. She also worked as a high school teacher.

When she came to the coast, her new neighbor happened to be Carol Newman, who works for KMUN and told Rideout she might enjoy volunteering at the station. Rideout thought it would be a good opportunity to meet people.

“At the time, they just happened to need someone — desperately — to do a show that they have called ‘Bedtime Stories’ where you read children’s stories on the air. So I could read, and I was alive,” she said. “And they put me down in the seat and trained me a little bit, and then I started reading on the air. It was truly terrifying.”

She eventually got used to hearing her own voice, and successfully vaulted the transition between written and spoken journalism. She joined KMUN’s staff within the year.

Rideout worked as a host for “Morning Edition,” and later for “All Things Considered.” Eventually, she was hired as a reporter.

“It was always really fun,” she said. “That kind of work is just very fun stuff.”

Popular maritime content

After developing an interest in the Columbia River Bar Pilots, she began to talk about ship traffic during Morning Edition. That eventually turned into “The Ship Report,” which she started in 2003.

“It just sort of grew into the segment that it is now, where I was interviewing people and just sharing marine weather, talking about the maritime environment. I really didn’t know whether people were gonna like it or not, but people really did like it,” she said. “They really connected with it because we’re such a river town here and such a river environment.”

Though she is retiring from the news, Rideout will still be producing The Ship Report.

Rideout said that some career highlights have been her recent reporting on rural broadband, which she said has been especially challenging for families during the pandemic. She also learned a lot from a collaboration with National Public Radio on a segment about the bar pilots. Another story that sticks with her is an in-depth interview she did with a homeless woman who shared her experience with social services in Astoria.

“I feel very fortunate to have had these 20 years of time that I’ve been involved with the place,” Rideout said. “It’s a wonderful organization, and I’m so happy that Katie wants that job because she will do a great job.”

Katie Frankowicz

Katie Frankowicz will serve as the news director at KMUN, after years reporting for the Chinook Observer and the Astorian.

Reporter steps up

Frankowicz will step in on Jan. 17, but is training to make the transition from print to audio with the help of her predecessor.

Frankowicz worked as a reporter at The Astorian for the past 4 1/2 years, covering a range of topics from the environment and natural resources to local government and education.

She first stepped into The Astorian’s newsroom over a decade ago as a Snowden intern from the University of Oregon. She spent the following years doing stints at The Astorian and the Chinook Observer and working in freelance for publications on the coast and in Portland before returning to the Astoria paper.

“I’ve been in journalism for a pretty long time now,” Frankowicz said. “In some aspects it’s the same job I’ve always done, but with new technicalities in terms of how stories are delivered.”

Frankowicz said she is happy to stick with reporting locally.

“That’s what I’m proud of. It’s not any one story. It’s the consistent and reliable coverage of things that people care about out here, and that I care about because I also live here,” she said. “That has always felt incredibly valuable to me and it’s been one of the reasons that I’ve stuck around at small papers.”

At KMUN, she plans on prioritizing original reporting and hopes to expand the station’s community coverage.

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