Ryan Finnerty


Ryan Finnerty is a producer on Hawaiʻi Public Radio's local public affairs talk show The Conversation where he reports on local and state politics, business, economics, the military, science, and the environment. His work was featured on C-SPAN Radio's View from the States project. Before coming to Hawaiʻi Public Radio, Ryan was an officer in the U.S. Army stationed at Schofield Barracks on Oʻahu. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in economics.   

Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle / U.S. INDOPACOM

On Tuesday, Members of the U.S. Coast Guard will miss their first paycheck since the partial federal shutdown began in December. Uniformed service members and essential civilains are still on duty performing missions vital to public safety and national security. But this isn't the first time the Coast Guard has been through this challenge.

Coast Guard Compass

Government Shutdown/US Coast Guard; Supreme Court Election; Climate Conference; Hawai'i Restaurant Manager Apprentice Program

Flickr / DHS

800,000 federal workers around the country are about to miss a paycheck as the partial government shutdown prepares to enter its fourth week. Many are in positions vital to public safety and national security, and have been forced to work without pay. With no end in sight, local workers are nearing the end of their financial resources.

Wikimedia Commons

The Interior Department is one of 9 cabinet departments affected by the partial government shutdown. As a result, national parks around the country are clsoed or operating with reduced services. But that is not the case at the Pearl Harbor memorial, where a coalition of donors are providing funds and manpower to keep the park open.


Updated property tax assesments began reaching Oahu residents in December. Properties in several districts saw value increases around or above 10% last year, resulting in a higher tax bill for homeowners. The deadline to appeal a property value assesment is January 15th. 


Pop quiz. If you live in California and want to ship a a holiday gift to friends in Hawaii and Australia, which do you think will cost more? Unless you shell out for next day air delivery, the answer is likely to be the Hawaii route. The reason is an obscure 1920 U.S. shipping law known as the Jones Act.

Flickr / Hawaii Vet2Vet

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie wants to bring the VA into the 21st Century. Secretary Wilkie told Hawaii Public Radio that he wants to modernize the VA’s aging computer systems that deal with everything from hospital administration to college tuition payments. The department was recently in the spotlight for underpaying veterans using the G.I. Bill.

Wikimedia Commons

Pu`uhonua o Wai`anae; Stories From the Border; Impeachment Petition Update; Kaua`i Recovery Update

Ryan Finnerty

A homeless community on Oahu’s leeward coast is one step closer to finding homes. The group received a $150,000 donation to help fund a plan to transition the residents of Pu'uhonua o Waianae to permanent housing. The money came from some of the biggest real estate trusts in Hawaii.

Wikimedia Commons

The number one vector for invasive species coming to Hawaii is not well regulated. Hawaii is not unique in the lack of regulation concerning biofouling, which is the transfer of organic marine life on the underside of ship hulls. Much more attention is given to the agricultural products being transported on board those ships.

California DFW / Flickr

In December of 2018, officials from 22 states met in Hawaii for a meeting of the Western Governor’s Association. Hawaii Governor David Ige hosted the gathering in Kona which was focused on the impacts of invasive species. Invasions from ecologically alien plants and animals are contributing to environmental and economic degredation around the world. In many ways Hawaii is ground zero for the fight against invasive species. This series explores the problem and what can be done to limit the damage.

Phillip Pessar / Flickr

Hawaii has the highest rate of rentership in the nation, with 43% of residents renting the property in which they live. Last year around 1,700 of those renters were evicted by their landlord. According to a new report from non-profit group Lawyers for Equal Justice, 95% of eviction cases in Hawaii resulted in the tenant being evicted. 


Hawaii is already spending tens of millions of dollars per year dealing with the effects of invasive species and without coordinated action that number will balloon in the coming decades. That was the message from a panel of Hawaii-based experts earlier this week.

Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii Governor David Ige hosted the 2018 winter meeting of the Western Governors' Association in Kona this week. Ige selected invasive species as the topic for the two day event. Hawaii's efforts to study and control the Little Fire Ant were highlighted during one panel discussion.

California Surf Museum

In the early years of the Vietnam War a cultural revolution was underway on the West Coast of the United States. It wasn't women's liberation or the counterculture. It was the Shortboard Revolution. As the modern sport of surfing was taking shape, many of its earliest adopters were being sent to war the jungles of Vietnam.

Wikimedia Commons

Although it has been 77 years since the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, many American servicemen killed in the battle have yet to be identifed. But that is beginning to change. Technological advancements are allowing forensic scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to determine the identities of hundreds of Americans who were buried as unknowns. 

Free Stock Photos

Since 2011 more than 700,000 veterans nationwide have donated their genetic information to help the Department of Veterans Affairs research the origins of disease and find new treatments. It’s called the Million Veteran Program. In 2015 MVP became the largest human genomic database in the world.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr

Some of Hawaii's most polluted waterways may soon get help from an unlikely source: oysters. After a successful test project in Pearl Harbor, the Hawaiian Islands branch of the Waterkeeper Alliance is seeking to expand the use of oyster colonies to clean polluted waters. 

Grace Simoneau / DVIDS

American troops deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border got a lot of attention over the Thanksgiving holiday. But at the same time there was a quieter mission underway, involving military personnel from Hawaii and Guam.

Since late October, American militaryy personnel have been in the Commowealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They are on the islands of Tinian and Saipan responding to widespread damage from a super typhoon.

surfglassy / Flickr

Surfing may be the ancestral sport of Hawaii but these days it is also big business. The global surfing industry is worth around $10 billion per year. At the forefront of that industry is the World Surf League. Every year the WSL runs more than 180 events at all levels of competition. In 2018, more than 2,400 male and female athletes caught waves in 27 countries around the world.


  Eating healthy is all the rage these days – and our options at the grocery store reflect that trend. High-end food stores like the Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods and local chain Down to Earth are expanding. Traditional grocers like Foodland are making room on their shelves for more organic and local products.

Wikimedia Commons

Mothers Against Drunk Driving; The Long View; Tales from the Emerald Isle


Niall De Burca

Ireland is a land misty bogs and green fields. Much like Hawaii, it is a land rich in stories of ancient heroes and spirits who shaped the physical world. This week Hawaii residents will have the opportunity to hear some of those Irish tales.

Niall De Burca is a travelling storyteller – a seanchai in Irish Gaelic. He’s touring Hawaii to tell the stories of his homeland and spoke with HPR’s Ryan Finnerty here in our studio.

The U.S. National Archives / Flickr

The Honolulu City Council has given final approval to a bill that aims to streamline the process for getting a building permit. Lengthy delays in issuing permits have been frustrating builders and homeowners alike.

Members of Oahu’s residential construction industry have been lobbying the Council to address the months-long wait for permits they say is costing them millions of dollars. In an otherwise booming local economy, some contractors have been reducing hours or laying off workers entirely.


Waikiki War Natatorium Memorial; HPR Reporter Debrief; Building Permit Backlog; HIFF Film, United Skates




The State Department of Health is holding a public hearing in Hilo on Wednesday regarding the future of a new power plant. The Hu Honua Bioenergy facility on the Hamakua Coast would burn eucalyptus trees to generate electricity. Some say that its clean, renewable energy, but other community members have serious environmental concerns.

Shaw Air Force Base

Veterans Day; Armistice Day; Natatorium EIS;  Union/Strike update: Big Island Coffee Farmers;  HOLO Card


Osiristhe / Flickr

Coffee farmers on the Kona Coast are seeing harvests with as much as a 40% reduction in crop yields. It's been a year filled with natural disasters and many farmers are just now learning the effect that all of the hurricanes, floods, and volcanic activity had on their crops. Many cite the heavy emissions of sulfur dioxide and ash from Kilauea volcano as the main culprit for the lackluster growing season.

Ryan Finnerty

“No True Hawaiian Will Evade It.” That was the headline of a two-page newspaper ad penned by Queen Lili’uokalani and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole in 1917. They were encouraging residents of territorial Hawaii to donate to the Red Cross following America’s entry into World War I.