Ryan Benk

REPORTER / HOST "Indie Endeavour"

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.

Originally from Miami, he graduated with a bachelor's in English literature from Florida State University. During his time in Tallahassee, Ryan also worked as a policy and research analyst for legislative-research firm LobbyTools.

Ryan left WJCT News in August 2018 to explore new pursuits. 

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A Jacksonville housing development set to open this week blends temporary crisis and permanent low-income housing — mostly for women.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A lack of employment opportunity, an excess of generational poverty and lack of access to financial institutions  — and the fiscal literacy they provide — makes it difficult for many families to see their way out of hardship.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Two days after Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Lance C. Whitaker was killed in a single-vehicle crash near I-295 and Alta Drive, a procession of police officers and firefighters escorted his body from the morgue downtown to a funeral home in Riverside. Community members, colleagues, friends and family lined the route to honor the 17-year-veteran of the force.


Two councilmen, one an emergent critic of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and another known to be a close ally of Curry, are castigating each other for possible violations of Sunshine Law.

Johnson YMCA

The James Weldon Johnson YMCA in Northwest Jacksonville is expanding. Not only will the wellness facility be renovated and receive a new swimming pool, but more importantly said spokespeople, it’s teen program capacity will more than double with the construction of a new teen center.

Currently, the Johnson YMCA serves around 30 to 40 teens a day. That number should rise to 100 once the center is finished.

Shizuo Kambayashi / The Associated Press via NPR

Update 2:55 p.m., May 14: A spokesperson with Fiat Chrysler has designated May Airbag Recall Repair Month statewide, with an emphasis on Miami, Orlando and Tampa. The designation also applies to Jacksonville residents.

Florida has the highest number of injuries and fatalities as a result of defective Takata airbags, according to automakers.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

The Jacksonville City Council may not reinvent the wheel when it comes to a proposed opioid trust fund, it may just put a new spin on it.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

The work of Jacksonville’s Task Force on Civil Rights History is an ever expanding universe of rich experiences, many of which have never been relayed to a broad city audience, certainly not in an organized fashion, according to co-chair Warren Jones.

Jacksonville City Council

Jacksonville Councilman Bill Gulliford said he’s directed the city’s Office of General Counsel to draft legislation that would create a special city trust fund to deal with opioid-addiction. The fund would come from private donations.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

A couple of miles north of Mayport in Jacksonville, down a winding dirt road shaded by primeval foliage stands a grand, whitewashed plantation home. More than 250 years ago, the Kingsley Plantation’s front door was the Fort George River, an estuary of the St. Johns River, and to this day the marshland water still laps at the front yard once only accessible by boat.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Update 10:03 a.m.: Reggie Brown''s office has rescheduled the forum for August 4, 2018. In a short news release Thursday morning, the office said more details are forthcoming. Check back for more updates.

At Jacksonville City Hall Thursday, Councilman Reggie Brown said Duval County is suffering from a “literacy health crisis,” saying not enough people know and understand health facts and are able to implement them in their daily lives.

Daily Record

A $15 million project to revitalize the defunct Baymeadows Golf Club is supposed to include a hotel and a retail center, though tenants have not been named yet.


JEA is in the first phase of a pilot program converting treated wastewater — that once ran through city sewers — into drinking water that flows out of your tap. The three-phase project began in 2016 because technology for these treatments has become increasingly affordable.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Interim JEA CEO Aaron Zahn wants Jacksonville residents to think differently about their relationship with the municipal utility.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Republican Gubernatorial candidate and current Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam said back wages that his family was ordered to pay to workers on his family citrus farm were the result of “clerical errors.”

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Edward Waters College is participating in a national pledge to provide debt-free schooling to 100 students.

The school announced Tuesday it is offering what’s called the College Promise, with the help of $356,000 in state funding.

But that appropriation will cover just one year of the program.

Data Targeting, Inc., a Gainesville firm that worked to elect Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, conducted a focus group study in late February asking participants whether they support selling municipal utility JEA.

Mathew105601 / Wikimedia Commons

For the first time since taking on JEA’s Interim CEO position earlier this week, Aaron Zahn felt the fire of a skeptical panel of city council members.

For a couple of hours he fielded questions ranging from the tense and awkward to the polite, but pointed.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

In his first press conference since becoming JEA’s interim CEO, Aaron Zahn recapitulated his immediate goals for the nation’s eighth largest municipal utility, and the short list doesn’t include continuing a debate about potential privatization. Yet Zahn wouldn’t say how long the privatization “pause” would last.



Instead of going with a proven utilities professional with years of experience at JEA, the electric and sewer company’s board decided Tuesday to appoint a short-term former board member as the interim CEO.

The move follows CEO Paul Paul McElroy’s April 6 resignation.

The board approved former board member Aaron Zahn to be the interim CEO, while allowing current interim Melissa Dykes to serve in some other governing capacity.

Zahn shocked some observers when he resigned from the board after less than two full months to seek JEA’s top spot Friday.

Associated Press

As Jacksonville city leaders are set to consider expanding an opioid pilot program for those already addicted, St. Vincent’s HealthCare is expanding another designed to minimize the prescribing of pain pills.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Florida Governor Rick Scott visited Jacksonville Wednesday for the first time since announcing his run for U.S. Senate.

The Northeast Florida pit stop followed the filing of a complaint accusing him of skirting campaign-finance law.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

How can Jacksonville elected officials make it easier for their constituents to be part of the governing process? That’s the question a new transparency committee started trying to answer Tuesday.



JEA CEO Paul McElroy is stepping down amid growing debate over whether the city should privatize the municipal utility company. He didn’t cite the controversy as a reason for his resignation, though — instead, he cited wanting to spend more time with his family and the need for organizations to evolve over time.


Public utility JEA is on the hook for hundreds of millions more than originally planned under a nuclear power contract, according to an annual financial disclosure CEO Paul McElroy presented to City Council on Thursday.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

The Florida General Baptist State Convention is planning to march on the state capitol this month.

Wikimedia Commons

An experimental vaccine could be on the market for ovarian-cancer patients as soon as 2022, according to the Jacksonville-based company that makes it.

The River City’s Mayo Clinic is participating in the trials.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Tariffs on aluminum will hurt beer drinkers — that’s according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who took a tour of Anheuser-Busch’s Jacksonville brewery on Monday.

Carlos Bouvier / WJCT

The hull of a ship that may be several centuries old  washed up on Ponte Vedra Beach this week. 

Joslyn Simmons / WJCT News

JEA CEO Paul McElroy Thursday presented the Jacksonville City Council with 22,000 pages of documents in response to their questions about potentially selling the publicly owned utility.