Kai-Ryssdal
Kai Ryssdal | Biography

Quick Wiki

  • Full Name Kai Ryssdal
  • Occupation Radio Host, Former U.S. Navy Pilot, Former U.S. Foreign Service Staff
  • Nationality American
  • Birth Date Oct 08, 1963
  • Age 59 Years, 1 Months
  • Zodiac Sign Libra
  • Religious Affiliation Christianity
  • Birthplace Briarcliff Manor, New York, USA
  • Wife Stephanie Fossan
  • Ethnicity White
  • Net Worth Undisclosed
  • Relationship Status Married
  • Education Graduated
  • University Emory University (Bachelors) & Georgetown University (Masters)
Host and Senior Editor of NPR's 'Marketplace'

Kai Ryssdal | Biography

Former U.S. Navy Pilot and Foreign Service Staff

To Mediabistro, he also shared that he woke up early from 4:30 to 5:00. He said, “I get up really early because out here in California, we’re behind the time zone. By the time I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, things are already happening on the East Coast.” He then explained that his usual morning routine shited from market research, story selection and verification, role assignments to writing and collaborating with editors before going live.


Kai Ryssdal is a radio host of American Public Media's radio show Marketplace.

What is Kai Ryssdal's Net Worth & Salary?

As of 2022, Kai Ryssdal's net worth has not been revealed by any authentic media sources. However, he must have generated quite a good income from his decades-long career in multiple sectors, including radio journalism.

According to the November 2009 report on minnpost.com, Ryssdal's annual salary was $167,590. In addition to that, he also received another $15,528 in employee benefits and deferred compensation, making his total salary approximately $183,118.

Further, his most recent salary was disclosed by bringmethenews.com in one of its June 2020 articles. According to it, Ryssdal was one of the 20 highest compensated employees at the MPR/APMS in the 2019 financial year. Moreover, he was one of the only two on-air employees on the list of 20 employees at the organization. He earned $446,868, out of which $46,864 was paid his deferred compensation.

Ryssdal's first job right out of college was in the U.S. Military. He spent eight years in the U.S. Navy, flying E-2 Hawkeyes off the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and then worked with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He was also a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, with assignments in Ottawa, Canada, and Beijing, China. 

Before taking over as host of APM's Marketplace in 2005, he was the host of the Marketplace Morning Report, a seven-minute business summary show, and the weekend radio show Marketplace Money.

In 2005, Ryssdal also began anchoring and later became senior editor of the popular business and economic radio show, Marketplace. In addition, he also co-hosts podcast Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly alongside Marketplace Tech's Molly Wood to cover economics, technology, and culture.

He Grew Up in Europe

Ryssdal was born on 8 October 1963 in Briarcliff Manor, New York, USA. However, he had his upbringing in Europe, because of which he struggled with English when he returned to the United States. As a result, he spent five years of his childhood in the European nation England and the later three years in Denmark.

Ryssdal's high school education details are not available on authentic internet sites. However, he received his college education at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. From there, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in History in 1985. 

After being accepted into military flight school during his senior year at Emory University in Atlanta, he spent the following six months dreading what lay ahead, putting himself through numerous physical fitness tests all across campus. As a result, he was in greater shape when he entered boot camp than when he exited.

Ryssdal Served in the U.S. Navy For Several Years

For eight years, from 1985 to 1993, Ryssdal served in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft pilot and afterward worked at the Pentagon as a staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During those eight years, he also completed his master's of arts degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.

Eventually, he attended the foreign service exam and passed it. "I had done everything I wanted to do in the Navy. I had gone to sea, learned how to fly, and worked at the Pentagon," he shared why he chose to take the exam.

After that, in 1993, he began working with the U.S. Foreign Service. While there, he served in the countries Ottawa, Canada, and Beijing, China. Ryssdal then left his job at the U.S. Foreign Service in 1997.

He Started His Journalism Career in California

After serving in the U.S. Foreign Service for four years as an employee of the U.S. State Department, he moved to California after his wife was selected at the nearby Harvard University. In California, he got work at a Border's bookshop in Palo Alto.

There, he came across a book advertising radio internship one evening while stacking books and pondering what he wanted to do with his life. As he was a news freak himself, he decided to take a shot at broadcasting and applied for the intern position at KQED in San Francisco.

Later, he schlepped at San Francisco's KQED for a year and a half before getting on the air. Back at KQED, he lacked confidence when he showed up in a suit and tie for his interview, but he blended in unconsciously with the group of 19-year-old interns. He was barely making enough money to pay his rent. But six months later, he got chills the first time as he heard a live section he'd written.

In 2001, Ryssdal relocated to southern California and joined the Marketplace Morning Report.

Joined the NPR Show' Marketplace' in 2005

Ryssdal took over as host of National Public Radio's (NPR) weekday show, Marketplace, in 2005. He initially started as a 2:50 am broadcaster of the show Marketplace Morning Report. After schlepping around four years in the position, he became the Marketplace host.

Ryssdal spoke with Mediabistro on how he created Marketplace stories that keep listeners interested. He said, "One of the most important things we do is context — to place individuals and companies and the larger economy in their proper context. For individuals, it's why things like auction rate securities matter, [and] what that will mean for their municipalities as they try to get loans to build a new swimming pool," he explained. "For companies, what the earnings picture is. For the U.S. economy, what the global economy picture is. There's a finite amount that anybody can digest. This stuff is dense, and it's hard, and it's complicated — and frankly, sometimes it's not all that interesting. It's a pretty high bar to get on to the program."

To Mediabistro, he also shared that he woke up early from 4:30 to 5:00. He said, "I get up really early because out here in California, we're behind the time zone. By the time I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, things are already happening on the East Coast." He then explained that his usual morning routine shifted from market research, story selection, and verification, role assignments to writing and collaborating with editors before going live.

Also Read: Emerald Robinson - Age, Husband, Kids, Newsmax

In the same interview with Mediabistro, Ryssdal shared some helpful tips for newcomers and those who want to follow in his footsteps. First, he advised them to always stand up to the situation and say yes on the job. He called today's journalism industry fiercely competitive, and only those who can grab the opportunities on the first go can thrive.

His words were as, "Never say no. If someone says, "Can you come in on Sunday and go to Chinatown to get us some tape for the Monday broadcast," you have to say yes. And that goes now more than ever in journalism when it's so hard to find really good work. If you have an opportunity, you absolutely have to grab it."

In 2012, he won an Emmy for investigative reporting on a PBS Frontline documentary, Big Sky, Big Money, which focused on money in politics. Moreover, he is currently the senior editor and main host of Marketplace.

Ryssdal Talked About Flying In The Cold War

In the wake of a bitter war between Crimea and Ukraine in 2014, Ryssdal talked about his own experience as a Navy pilot flying an aircraft during the cold war with the Soviet Union. At that time, Ronald Reagan was the president of the USA.

They used to fly off the USS Theodore Roosevelt at midnight and look for the Soviet nuclear bombers. They were specifically tasked to locate Tupolev-95 Bears. Monitoring them and letting them know the USA knew they were there.

As he said, "We'd go up there, launch off the boat in the middle of the night, and go looking for Soviet nuclear bombers: Tupolev-95 Bears, to be precise. They'd come out of the Soviet air bases in Murmansk, fly around the North Cape of Norway, down past Iceland and the U.K., on the way to their launch orbits. And our job was to keep an eye on them. Make sure they knew that we knew they were there."

He is the Co-Host of 'Make Me Smart' Podcast

Since 28 November 2016, he has co-hosted the podcast Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly alongside Marketplace Tech's Molly Wood. The podcast focuses on economics, technology, and culture.

As of March 2022, the podcast has reached 653 episodes, with its latest episode released on 18 March this year. All the episodes of this podcast series are available for listening on Marketplace's official website, marketplace.org.

Is Kai Ryssdal Married?

Ryssdal met his wife, Stephanie Fossan, in foreign service orientation just before taking an assignment in Ottawa, Canada. The pair married in 1997 and have four children, a daughter Liv Ryssdal and three sons, namely Adin Ryssdal, Tait Ryssdal, and Soren Ryssdal. The entire family currently resides in Los Angeles.

Ryssdal and his wife offered to go anywhere they were needed for their next job as long as they could stay together. As a result, they spent six months learning Chinese to be considered for jobs in Beijing. Later, Stephanie was admitted into Stanford University's MBA program in the U.S. after being in China for eighteen months.

Ryssdal recalls, "We quit our jobs, got married, she started school, and I moped around for a while, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life."

Their eldest son, Adin, is currently a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. He enrolled there in 2019 and is studying political science and international development at his bachelor's degree level. He would graduate by 2023.

Similarly, Ryssdal's other son Soren is a high school student. As per his Facebook bio, he began attending La Canada High in 2016. Further details about his other children are not available currently.

Did You Know?

Rysdall's Marketplace can also be listened to on National Public Radio's website as a podcast. 

Fact-checking and Ethical Concerns

We assure our audience that we will remove any contents that are not accurate or according to formal reports and queries if they are justified. We commit to cover sensible issues responsibly through the principles of neutrality.

To report about any issues in our articles, please feel free to Contact Us. Our dedicated Editorial team verifies each of the articles published on the Biographyhost.