Ben Kieffer

River to River and Java Blend Host

Ben Kieffer joined Iowa Public Radio in 2000 and is host of IPR’s daily noon talk show River to River, which he also helps produce. Since 2001, he has hosted and produced IPR’s weekly, live music program which features artists from around the state and the country called Java Blend.

Prior to joining IPR, Ben lived and worked in Europe for more than a decade. He reported firsthand the fall of the Berlin Wall and covered the Velvet Revolution in Prague. Ben has won numerous awards for his work over the course of more than 20 years in public media.

Ben holds an adjunct faculty position at The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he teaches courses on interviewing and radio news. He is a native of Cedar Falls and a graduate of the University of Iowa.

Ben’s favorite public radio program is Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Matt Wade

On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Paul Gowder, one of more than 2400 U.S. law professors who signed the New York Times Opinion piece, The Senate Should Not Confirm Kavanaugh.

Gowder is a law professor at the University of Iowa, and he believes that Judge Brett Kavanaugh has neither the temperament nor the impartiality to sit on the nation's highest court.

Jeanne Bishop

Jeanne Bishop remembers the last night she saw her younger sister alive in 1990 as one of the happiest for her family. They had gathered in Chicago to celebrate the news that Nancy and her husband Richard were going to become parents. Nancy was three months pregnant.

That night, after returning to their townhouse in Winnetka, Nancy and Richard were murdered by a local teen. It was a robbery gone wrong. Richard was shot once in the back of the head, and Nancy was shot multiple times in the abdomen. Nancy and Jeanne's father found the pair dead in their basement the next morning. 

IPR

NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben was in Iowa the morning after the release of an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats for the upcoming midterm elections had closed.

flickr / RelaxingMusic

People who sleep fewer than six hours, or longer than eight hours may be at greater risk of developing or dying from coronary artery disease or stroke.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Eric Dyken, a neurologist with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Sleep Disorder Center. In addition to new research connecting sleep habits to stroke, we also hear about a blood test in development for drowsy driving and about some suprising connections between napping patterns and genetics.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

Art Cullen's  commentary about water quality and agribusiness in Iowa won him the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 2017 .

Wikimedia Commons

President Trump has accused democrats of a "con game" against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, describing one of the three women who have accused him of sexual misconduct as a student who was "messed up" and "drunk" at the time. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa, and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College about accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and about President Trump's address before the United Nations Tuesday. 

This interview originally aired on January 9, 2018.

In her book "White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide," professor Carol Anderson writes about what she says is a trend as old as the nation itself: "white rage."

Outer Space, Plants, and Computer Vision

Sep 25, 2018
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

This interview originally aired on January 9, 2018.

Plants growing in space have no gravity to assist them, there is minimum light, and there is more radiation exposurethan the plants would receive on Earth. However, plant production is expected to be an important part of future deep space missions.

Emily Woodbury

On this edition of “Pints and Politics,” presented by The Gazette and Iowa Public Radio, panelists provide insight on the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school, look toward Iowa’s congressional and gubernatorial races, and discuss Gov. Kim Reynolds’ handling of former Iowa Finance Authority director, David Jamison’s, conduct.

 

Office of the Vice President

Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were both in high school, says she wants the FBI to investigate before she testifies.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied her accusation. Blasey’s lawyers say she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her identity was made public.

On this politics day edition of River to River, listeners call into Iowa Public Radio to share their thoughts on how leaders in Washington are reacting.

Thomas Langdon / University of Iowa

NPR's Cokie Roberts says instead of draining the "swamp," as politicians describe our nation's capitol, more members of Congress should bring their families when they come to serve. Roberts grew up in Washington D.C., the daughter of democratic Representative Hale Boggs, who served in the U.S. House for 28 years, and Representative Lindy Boggs, who held her husband's seat for 18 years after his death.

Gage Skidmore/flickr

 

Like “a knife fight in a brawl” – that’s how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell describes the close Senate midterm races.

 

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and guests Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor and professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Scott Peters, professor and department head at the University of Northern Iowa’s Department of Political Science, take stock with just over 50 days remaining before the midterm election.

 

Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons

Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the national anthem in protest of social inquality and police brutality. Because of this controversial move, he hasn't been signed by a team since he went out as a free agent last year, but he has maintained his spot in the political sports conversation, and continues to spark dialogue through a new Nike ad campaign. 

Courtesy of the UI International Writing Program

Just across the street from the University of Iowa’s famed Writer’s Workshop is the Shambaugh House, the hub of the UI International Writing Program.

 

As part of the program’s 12-week residency, authors from every continent gather in Iowa City to do readings, lectures, translate literature into their native languages, and travel across the United States. Sometimes, Iowans invite residents into their homes to dine with transnational guests, says the director of the International Writing Program, Christopher Merrill.

 

Andrea Booher

 

With just 30 units for every 100 families in need of shelter, Des Moines has less affordable housing available than Brooklyn, Boston, or Omaha. Even when housing can be secured, often following a wait that can last several months, or even years, the quality and safety of affordable housing may be questionable in Polk County.

Fibonacci Blue

 

 

A recent New York Times investigation revealed possible changes to the way sexual misconduct is handled on college campuses across the country.

 

Office of Senator Chuck Grassley

 

On the night before the confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 42,000 documents containing legal opinions, emails and other records pertaining to Kavanaugh were distributed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

 

Looking forward to the 2020 presidential election, the Grinnell College National Poll says 36 percent of likely voters would elect President Trump for office and 43 percent plan on voting for someone else.

 

USDA Photo by Lance Cheung

Companies and farmers weathering the Trump administration’s trade policy, which has brought painful tariffs to many industries, could be running out of patience. That’s according to former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who served as USDA secretary for both of President Obama’s terms. 

Vilsack says that farmers and companies were willing to be patient as the Trump administration took a hard stand with China, but after feeling the impact of tariffs, that patience is now running out.

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alamosbasement/flickr

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Emily Piper, lobbyist for the Iowa Association of School Boards, and Kristin Hilton, school counselor at Central Academy, about a new Iowa law that requires training for educators to help students with mental health issues.

This law is designed to give teachers the tools to help students experiencing mental health issues and establish protocols for suicide prevention. 

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pixabay.com

The amount of public money spent to support non-public education options including private schools and homeschool programs has increased by 53 percent over the last ten years according to a recent report from The Des Moines Register.

On this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores what it means to spend public education dollars on non-public education options. He talks with Des Moines Register reporter Mackenzie Ryan, who recently published an article breaking down just how many public dollars ended up supporting non-public education options. 

Jessie Jacobson / Flickr

More Iowa high school students go on to college than oublic school graduates  in other states. Iowa also has the best graduation rate of any state in the country. But does that mean we have the best schools?

During this hour of River to River, we hear how Iowa's schools compare nationally in terms of funding, test scores and graduation rate, and talk about how the Iowa Department of Education measures the success of schools statewide. 

Guests for this hour include:

Gage Skidmore

Today is the first of four days of funeral services for Senator John McCain.

On this edition of politics day on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Evan Renfro of the University of Northern Iowa and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa, about the Arizona senator’s legacy.

As a former Air Force intelligence analyst, Renfro also discusses Russia’s planned war games, the largest since the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and the controversy over the revoking of security clearances by the Trump Administration.

Phil Roeder

All beliefs and all actions are political. And often, inaction is just as political.

That’s according to Jeanne Dyches, assistant professor of education at Iowa State University, whose research centers around the idea of how teachers bring their political beliefs into the classroom.

“There is absolutely no way for a teacher not to bring his or her politics to the classroom,” she says.

Samir Luther

The Trump administration wants to allow states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants. The plan is a rollback of Obama-era pollution rules.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer gets reaction to the proposal from Iowa’s energy sector, and guests estimate how much the new rules will change the course of Iowa’s energy future, especially since Iowa is a national leader in wind energy.

Guests include: Dan Lutat of Iowa Lake Community College and Justin Foss of Alliant Energy.

John Pemble

This week, the murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts by a man who is believed to be an undocumented immigrant left the political landscape sharply divided.

On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Chris Larimer, professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, about the response to the Tibbetts case by politicians from Iowa and across the nation, including Senator Ernst’s call to reconsider “Sarah’s law."

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

 

A significant community push from the community is supporting the opening of a detox center in Sioux City.

On this hour or River to River, Executive Director Siouxland Human Investment Partnership Matt Ohman and Director of Four Directions Community Center in Sioux City and native community advocate Frank LaMere join host Ben Kiefer to discuss efforts to establish comprehensive care for community members struggling with addiction and homelessness in the Sioux City area.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman admitted into NASA's astronaut training program, and the first African-American woman in space. She visited the Iowa State Fair earlier this week. He also checks in with astrophysicist Jasper Halekas, co-investigator of the Parker Solar Probe mission for NASA, about the mission's spacecraft that is flying around the sun.

Jeff Dzadon/Flickr

A recent analysis ranks Iowa as having the ninth worst infrastructure in the country.

The state’s rural county bridges may be what spurred the poor rating by content and analysis company 24/7 Wall St, according to Aaron Granquist, a project manager who’s overseeing the state’s upcoming infrastructure report card.

Todd Huffman / Creative Commons

 

Opioid-related deaths are on the rise in Iowa, and research suggests that needle exchanges may be effective in decreasing drug-related deaths.

 

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