John Bender


John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

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Screenshot via Providence Tax Assessor website

"No heat in house, no running water," wrote an inspector after visiting the apartment building at 110 Bowdoin Street, in the Olneyville section of Providence. "Issuing intent to condemn, house was a mess."

The report, signed January 3, 2018, went on to describe occupants relying on space heaters and propane torches for warmth, during one of the coldest periods in recent memory. There was an open electrical panel in the basement, the inspector noted. Residents were complaining of constant problems and frozen pipes.

John Bender / RIPR

When businesses shut down during winter storms, residents looking for a hot meal can be left in the cold. Unless you happen to live in Newport.

John Bender / RIPR

Many public schools remained closed for a second day, as residents continued the work of digging out from the snowstorm that pummeled Rhode Island and the South Coast on Thursday. In New Bedford, officials warned that a deep freeze could cause more problems.

Think Thursday's Storm Was A Blizzard? Think Again.

Jan 2, 2018
John Bender

Temperatures dropped low enough  Sunday to break a long-standing record. It was 3 degrees below zero on Sunday, which broke a 106-year-old record of 1 below zero set in 1912, according to the National Weather Service.

Rachel Cohen

At the start of the New Year, many high school seniors are scrambling to get college applications finished. But for many undocumented students, applying to college is just half the battle. The other half is figuring out how to pay for school, and that can be overwhelming. One Providence teacher is trying to help.

Rachel Cohen teaches English as a second language at Mount Pleasant High School in Providence. She says some of her students are undocumented, which means they don’t qualify for federal financial aid.

John Bender / RIPR

Yes, it’s frigid outside. It’s New England, and it's winter. But this week’s cold weather is breaking records. The National Weather Service confirmed that a 14-degree high on Thursday broke the previous record cold temperature, set in 1976.

John Bender / RIPR

Even as homeless shelters swell over capacity, social service workers are scrambling to get more people off the streets and out of the bitter cold.

Not since 2014’s so-called polar vortex has the state seen such sustained frigid temperatures. According to meteorologists, the culprit this time is a blast of arctic air hitting the East Coast.

“This appears to be the coldest air mass for the last four or five years,” said National Weather spokesman Bill Simpson. “It’ll probably be an extended period of cold air, probably breaking by next week. So we’re looking at well, well below our normal temperatures.”


It looks like this will be a white Christmas for Rhode Island and the South Coast. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures will hover around freezing through the holiday.

Weather Service spokesman Bill Simpson said flakes will likely start falling late this weekend.

John Bender / RIPR

Miosotis Castro, her husband Francisco Alvarado and their three children are among thousands of Puerto Ricans who lost their homes when Hurricane Maria hit the island three months ago. 

John Bender / RIPR

The Christmas Tree in the Rhode Island Statehouse will be replaced after its appearance made national headlines. The 25-foot Fraiser Fir appeared to be losing its needles at an alarming rate after sitting in marble entryway for more than three weeks.


It’s the first time Secretary Nellie Gorbea will return to the island since the devastating Hurricane Maria. 

John Bender / RIPR

The Providence Teachers Union is asking why so many teachers are being placed on administrative leave and facing investigations for abusing students. The union called a special meeting with city and school officials Monday.  


Snow is on the way! After a days-long warm spell, with temperatures in the mid-50s, the weather is set to dip below freezing this weekend. The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory with about three to six inches of snow expected to accumulate. Some areas of Rhode Island and Massachusetts could see as much as seven to eight inches.


The state commission set up to study the possibility of legalizing recreational marijuana met again Wednesday. The panel heard from representatives from states which have already implemented recreational marijuana.