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.

Courtesy of the publisher

More than 70,000 people died from drug overdoeses in 2017, making ovrdoses a greater killer than gun violence or car crashes in the U.S.. Of the more than 70,000 lives lost to drugs in 2017, over 68 percent were opioid-related, solidfying opioids, including synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, as a growing killer in the United States. 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

This program originally aired 01/07/19

If you’ve driven along I-80 between Iowa City and Des Moines in the last year, you’ve noticed the dozens of wind turbines being built along the interstate. Those are part of a $3.6 billion MidAmerican wind energy expansion project. The Iowa Utilities board approved another $922 million wind energy project, Wind XII, late last year; and with its approval, MidAmerican is positioned to provide its customers with 100 percent of their energy from renewable sources in the next few years.

John Pemble / IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

 

Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell is out of the race, while billionaire Tom Steyer is in.  Also this week, pressure increases for U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta to resign after a controversial plea deal and a court rules that President Trump may not block his Twitter critics.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Keiffer talks with analysts Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Kedron Bardwell of Simpson College about these along with other political headlines. 

Hans Reniers / Unsplash

Summer weather has settled across the Midwest - and that means heat. Homeless people, children and the elderly become more at-risk to dehydration and possible fatality as temperatures climb. 

John Pemble/ IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series is helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

JFK Library

President Donald Trump made history last month when he became the first U.S. President to cross the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) into North Korea. Because diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea have been hostile dating back to the Korean War, the President has many wondering about the diplomatic implications of this meeting.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

This week, President Trump obtained a massive amount of money for his re-election campaign.  After the first round of Democratic candidate debates, Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren recieved top grades, according to a poll of voters.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Keiffer talks with analysts about the debate aftermath, Trump's campaigning and Fourth of July plans along with other polictical headlines. 

John Pemble/ IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Kjetil Ree / Flickr

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal scholars Emily Hughes of the University of Iowa and Tony Gaughan of Drake University about some of the most notable recent cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Dr. Jennifer L. Graham / U.S. Geological Survey

Considered one of the cleanest lakes in Iowa, Lake MacBride was recently under a no swim advisory with DNR officials citing high levels of toxins from an algale bloom, and E. coli. These pollutants in public swimming areas has led to health warnings and the closing of some public swimming areas in lakes around the state. 

John Pemble/ IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

William Simpson (artist, 1823–1899)

This program origionally aired on 11-19-2018.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with medical historian Thomas Morris about his new book, “The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine,” which details mysterious Illnesses, horrifying operations, dubious remedies and unfortunate predicaments from the early 17th Century to the turn of the 20th Century.

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

This week, millions of Americans will meet the cast of Democrats trying to unseat President Donald Trump.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with analysts about expectations for the first round of Democratic presidential debates as well as other political headlines.

Also, we continue our series of interviews about the leadership of 2020 candidates with a home state view of Andrew Yang, entrepreneur and founder of Venture for America. 

Guests include:

John Pemble/ IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Ben Kieffer

The University of Iowa has received a $115 million research award -- its largest ever -- from NASA to study the interactions between the magnetic fields of the sun and the Earth. 

Amazon

It's easy to look back and rationalize the technological progress of the 20th century. The tough part is predicting what future technologies will impact the world of tomorrow. Together, Zach and Kelly Wienersmith tackle the question of how groundbreaking tech will shape the world of tomorrow in their book "Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything."

Penguin Random House

Larry Diamond is a political scientist who has spent decades promoting democracy in dozens of countries around the world. He now feels our country is facing the most serious constitutional crisis since Watergate, and perhaps since the American Civil War.

Ben Kieffer

Lively political conversations over a local brew, it's a Pints and Politics edition of River to River!  Before a live audience at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City, Ben Kieffer and co-host Erin Jordan of the Gazette ask panelists about President Trump's 2020 re-election bid, the crowded Democratic field of 2020 candidates, candidates vying for Iowa's congressional seats, audience questions, and much more.

Panelists included:

John Pemble/IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Trump "officially" kicked off his 2020 presidential campaign as die-hard supporters gathered from across Florida Tuesday night to celebrate his announcement. 

Joyce N. Boghosian / Flickr

Comparing United States Presidents is considered more or less a parlor game. But can U.S. Presidents actually be compared in a truly useful manner? What methods and variables do historians use to make these comparisons and how do they help us understand the present?

Kinga Cichewicz / Unsplash

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is emerging as a solution to aid persistent insomnia in place of medication. 

University of Iowa Neurology Professor Mark Dyken and Psychiatrist Rachel Immen join River to River explain the impacts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBTI).  

"I like to compare CBTI to physical therapy - you're working on a specific problem with exercises that help you improve the function of yourself," Immen says. "CBTI is very similar in that you're going to be working on exercises to improve your brain function and your sleep ability."

NOAA

This year, the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone is forecast to be near record size. 

In this edition of River to River, we look at the role of nutrient pollution along the Mississippi River in creating this large, low-oxygenated area. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter, and Chris Jones, a research engineer at the University of Iowa’s IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering to discuss Iowa’s influence on the issue.

Clay Masters / IPR

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Photo by Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden exchanged political jabs this week in Iowa. 

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Jim McCormick of Iowa State University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa for a closer look at these high profile visits.

They also discuss Iowa ethanol and what it means for the president and other 2020 hopefuls, protests in Hong Kong over extradition laws, and former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean's testimony before Congress.

U.S. Air Force photo/Carol Lawrence

Persistent exposure to death and trauma puts firefighters, police officers, dispatchers, and paramedics at increased risk for negative mental health symptoms.

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer asks first responders how they go about tackling those challenges and how they get support for post-traumatic stress and depression related to their work.

Then, we examine why interest in becoming a police officer is down dramatically across the country as well as here in Iowa, and what’s being done about it.

Guests in today’s program include:

S Kaya / Flickr

Recently, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled on cases dealing with Iowa's 2017 collective bargaining law, the judicial nomination process, wind energy restrictions, and jury selection and representation.

Element5 Digital

This Sunday, 19 Democratic presidential candidates will come together for the largest caucus event so far this season.On this News Buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with James Lynch, political reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, ahead of this weekend's Democratic Party Hall of Fame event.

Before that, remembering the life of former Iowa Chief Justice Arthur McGiverin with current chief justice Mark Cady. Later in the program, a home state perspective on democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro from Ryan Poppe of Texas Public Radio. 

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

River to River's "Home State View" series helps us understand how the presidential candidates are viewed as leaders in the states they call home. Host Ben Kieffer interviews journalists who have spent years covering the candidates. We get the little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

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