A native of Illinois, Ryan graduated from Rock Island High School and briefly attended the University of Illinois before completing his undergraduate work at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA (1997). He earned a Masters of Theological Studies from Palmer Seminary in Philadelphia (1999) and then returned with his wife to the Midwest. Ryan has called Lawrence, KS, home since 1999. While working full time as a special education teacher, he earned his M.S. in Special Education (2007) and his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (2014) at the University of Kansas.
Ryan stumbled upon old time radio recordings by accident in 2000 and the field has been a passionate hobby ever since. In 2005 he started The Old Radio Times, the first e-publication in the old time radio community. He served as editor until 2009 and then resumed the responsibility in 2018. Ryan has published over two dozen articles on broadcasting history and in recognition of his work was awarded the Ezra Stone/Willard Waterman Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Old Time Radio in 2008. His areas of research include early African American radio and Kansas City radio history.