Ben Kieffer

River to River 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. 

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 30 years in public media.

Ben has taught courses at the University of Iowa on interviewing and radio news. He's a native of Cedar Falls and a graduate of the University of Iowa.

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Iowa has been hosting first-in-the-nation caucuses since 1972, but the proceedings have shifted with the years. Since the last caucuses in 2016, the DNC has mandated a new set of changes. IPR Reporter Kate Payne joins this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River to summarize how the upcoming Democratic caucuses on Feb. 3 will differ. 

Pete Souza / The Obama White House

In 2007, Iowa native Chris Liddell-Westefeld became a field organizer for the Obama campaign. His early start eventually led to career in White House where he spent five years working for the Obama Administration.

Right before Liddell-Westefeld's departure, he started a project to document President Obama’s historic path to the White House. Twelve years and 200 interviews later, Liddell-Westefeld has now released his book “They Said This Day Would Never Come: Chasing The Dream On Obama’s Improbable Campaign.”

Tim Ireland / AP Photo

This program originally aired on  11-26-19

On this edition of River to River, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts joins host Ben Kieffer to talk about his latest book “Leadership In War, Essential Lessons From Those Who Made History.”  In his book, Roberts makes a comparison of nine world leaders who guided their nations through the greatest wars the world has ever seen and how their unique strenghs and weaknesses changed the course of human history.

Benjamin Combs / Upsplash

Have you ever been falling asleep, or waking up, and then become suddenly aware you're unable to move or speak?  

Neurologist and Director of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorders Program, Mark Dyken joins host Ben Kieffer on this edition of River to River to explain the science of sleep paralysis.  Later on, he answers questions from callers across Iowa about a wide range of sleep problems. 

AP Photo

In 2019, Iowans said goodbye to a number of remarkable leaders and voices in the state.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by journalists, loved ones, and colleagues to remember the lives of several notable Iowans who passed last year.

Image courtesy of Terry rich

This program originally aired on August 6, 2019

$16.5 million. That's how much was in the jackpot in 2010, when Eddie Tipton won the lottery after buying the ticket in a Des Moines convenience store. As the security chief at the Multi-State Lottery Association at the time, Tipton was unable to claim the money. He hired a law firm to deliver the winning ticket and keep his name anonymous -- but by then the Iowa Lottery had already suspected something fishy was going on. Tipton had masterminded the biggest lottery fraud in US history. 

This episode origionally aired on  11-7-19

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia.  In the 1990’s, Khodorkovsky rocketed to prosperity and celebrity, but his fortunes drastically changed. He ended up serving a decade in prison, and became an unlikely martyr for the movement against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US Air Force

This program originally aired on April 25, 2019 

Ten years ago, the publication of a national report on forensic science systems in the U.S. found some alarming problems that needed to be addressed. The report, "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," led to the creation of the Iowa State University based "Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence" (CSAFE). 

Wikipedia

This program originally aired on April 25, 2019

When Tim Cook took the reigns as CEO of Apple after the death of Steve Jobs in 2011, the company's future was uncertain and many were skeptical that Cook could fill the shoes of a tech icon like Jobs. In 2018, Apple became the world's first trillion dollar public company.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The last week in national politics has been marked by the third impeachment of a U.S. president in history and the latest debate between Democratic presidential candidates. During this episode of River to River, Drake University Political Science Professor Dennis Goldford weighs in on both of those topics. 

Susan McClellen / University of Iowa

Many people experiencing acute mental health crises may find themselves sitting in an emergency room, experiencing long wait times as they seek help. University of Iowa Hospital and Clinic’s Crisis Stabilization Unit offers an alternative to the emergency room for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in a comfortable environment that prioritizes patient needs.

Bipartisan Policy / Flickr

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Ernest Moniz. Moniz is former Secretary of Energy and the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Threat Initative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. During this conversation, Moniz addresses many of the pressing questions surrounding the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world.

Abby Anaday / Unsplash

The concept of a "Medicare for All" health care system has been a point of debate in the 2020 race. A similar system has been in place in Canada for years.  Based off his experience working, researching and receiving care in both Iowa and Canada, one doctor shares what he's learned while working within the two systems. 

Jim Grey / Flickr

Although President Donald Trump hasn't yet faced a major foreign policy crisis, his indecisiveness while managing military operations in Afghanistan and Syria concerns bestselling author and CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After more than a year of partisan gridlock in Washinton, a replacement of the NAFTA agreement is now expected to win approval from Congress and alter the state of trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 

Photo Courtesry of Sehba Faheem

Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet, and they’re poised to be the most educated generation too.  In 2020, Gen Zers, many of whom are in their early 20s and late teens will also become the newest generation to head out on Caucus Day with the hopes of influencing the selection of the next Democratic nominee for president.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

At a marathoner's pace, Pete Buttigieg has pulled ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination, and he's now a top contender. Being at the top has certainly caught the attention of many Iowans planning to caucus, both in gaining new supporters and drawing harsh criticisms about his past at the same time.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. The Democrat-controlled House is charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.  

John Minchillo / AP Photo

With California Sen. Kamala Harris out of the race, the next Democratic primary debate stage is set to feature the whitest lineup in the 2020 race yet, despite the historic racial and ethnic diversity represented in the current presidential candidate pool. 

At the time Harris announced plans to suspend her campaign, the debate stage was poised to feature an all-white slate of candidates. Businessman Andrew Yang, who is Asian American, has since qualified for the December 19th debate, cohosted by PBS NewsHour and Politico.

Ponseti International Association / University of Iowa

Each year, nearly 200,000 children worldwide are born with a deformative skeletal birth defect known as clubfoot. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Tom Cook who is the author of the new book "Clubfoot: The Quest For A Better Life For Millions of Children.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

During this segment of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and political analyst Jim McCormick discuss last week’s impeachment hearings and the rherotic coming from both Republicans and Democrats about the Ukraine affair. 

They take also take a look at where the 2020 presidential candidates stand weeks before the Iowa Caucuses and Hong Kong unrest and the implications it may have on trade between the U.S. and China.

John Pemble / IPR File

 

With Caucus Day less than three months away, River to River has kicked off a series of interviews with 2020 presidential candidates. During this segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with California Senator Kamala Harris. Harris discusses her plans to provide a tax credit of up to $6,000 annually for families with incomes at or below $100,000, her efforts to expand mental healthcare, her goal to increase wages for Iowa teachers, and her plans for Thanksgiving in Des Moines.

Domiriel / Flickr

Iowa State University Astrophysicist Steve Kawaler says his team listens to the notes sung by stars, since the pitch from a star vibrating can indicate its size and mass. 

Ben Kieffer / IPR

Dear Matt,

I’m sure I can speak for both myself and all the IPR fans who weighed in to offer advice in saying that we’re glad you made it through your first blast of winter. I can see you’re doing some valuable reflection in preparation for the next polar pulse…

When the temps dip to zero, and you wear the balaclava, it’s true that the exposed skin around your eyes is an issue. My bad.  I failed to mention that part.  

Iowa Public Radio Images / Flickr

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady died suddenly last Friday at the age of 66, leaving behind both a vacancy and a new era for the court. After Cady's unexpected heart attack, Justice David Wiggins has taken over as acting chief justice while the process to fill Cady's seat begins. 

Ben Kieffer

Thirty years ago this month, the Berlin Wall fell. It was both a symbolic and a physical division, and during this hour of River to River, Iowans who lived in East and West Germany share their first-hand accounts of life before and after this moment in history with host Ben Kieffer, who was working as a reporter in Germany when the wall fell. 

Oliur / Unsplash

Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that educates and advocates for families regarding questions around technology and media. A new survey shows dramatic trends among young people, including increases in smartphone usage. 

Ben Kieffer / IPR

Late last month, freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez officially endorsed Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for president. In his latest swing through Iowa, Ocasio-Cortez joined Sanders on the campaign trail, marking her first trip to the state. 

How much does her endorsement mean to likely caucusgoers in Iowa? 

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Pubic Radio

Dear Experienced Iowans,

My name is Matt Alvarez. I’m the new talk show producer for Iowa Public Radio. I’m also new to Iowa, if you haven’t heard by now. As a Texas native I’ve dealt with my share of extreme weather situations – countless droughts, flash foods, tornadoes, heatwaves, and, yes, a few days of winter. But Texans have a very different definition of "cold." 

Darren Tromblay

The only grocery store in Ogden burned down Saturday night, and now Ogden residents will have to travel 10 miles to the nearest store. 

ISU associate scientist Dave Swenson, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe, and Miranda Parker of the Ogden Reporter weigh in what the loss of the grocery store means for the Ogden community. 

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