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.

D-Day was arguably the most important day of the 20th century.

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.

The White House / Flickr

President Trump has vowed to impose tariffs if Mexico does not stem the flow of migrants to the U.S. But Republicans are pushing back. 

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Extreme weather, including flooding and tornados, has been topping the news in Iowa and the Midwest. But the number of extreme weather events in the region may be even more numerous than we're able to recall. 

Heather Aitken

The cost of insulin has increased by 1,200% since the 1990's, and doubled in price between 2012 and 2016 alone. And as insulin prices steeply increase, many Iowans with diabetes feel the strain of accessing and affording this life-sustaining medication. When a sudden loss of insurance or financial strain comes in, the consequences can be devastating.

US Departmen of Defense

For ten years, Major General Timothy Orr served as adjutant general for the Iowa National Guard, and his entire career in the guard spans more than 40 years. On this segment of River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Orr about his recent retirement and the challenges and highlights of overseeing the Iowa National Guard, including combat tours in the Middle East and disaster relief around the country.

NASA

 

This program originally aired on October 11, 2018.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was initially created for competition during the Cold War, but since its birth six decades ago, NASA has proven to be one of the nation’s greatest contributors to technological advancement. It has paved the way for inventions including the modern cell phone, improved international diplomacy, and delivered sounds and images that continue to play a major role in scientific development and pop culture to this day.

 

This program originally aired on October 9, 2018.

Palliative is one of the newest medical fields to date. With a focus on holistic physical, mental, and emotional pain management and support, palliative care seeks to reevaluate the way pain is understood and treated in our medical system.

 

Gage Skidmore

Legislation that would have limited the powers of the Iowa Attorney General has been vetoed by Governor Kim Reynolds, an action seen by some Democrats in the Iowa legislature as a "power grab".

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with two political scientists to analyze the deal struck between the governor and Attorney General Tom Miller.

John Pemble

In this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by five freshman lawmakers who reflect on their first session at the Iowa Statehouse. They discuss what propelled them into politics, the challenges they faced as new lawmakers, and what they hope to focus on next year.

Emily Woodbury

  This program originally aired on November 8, 2018.

On this special edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and producer Emily Woodbury join a hundred veterans living in eastern Iowa as they take a tour of our nation's capital as part of an honor flight trip.

Honor flights are conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many U.S. military veterans as possible to see war memorials in Washington, D.C., at no cost to the veterans. 

Flickr/Creative Commons

 

Heavy rainstorms have drenched the state over the last few weeks, and it’s not looking like Iowans' luck will change any time soon.

On this “news buzz” edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Elwynn Taylor, professor emeritus of meteorology at Iowa State University for a look at the impact of several unusually wet weeks, particularly as farmers continue to work to get crops in and out of the ground.

Also on the program:

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 little-known details about each hopeful's history. Click the "play" button to listen.

Simon and Schuster

Through the arch of two wars, 17 years of ongoing conflict, and the lives of six soldiers, writer and U.S. Marine Corps veteran CJ Chivers takes us through the experiences of modern American combat vets in his latest book "The Fighters."

In this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Chivers about why he felt compelled to tell the stories of these conflicts and the veterans that served in them.

Clay Masters/IPR file

Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) grilled U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin at a House Financial Services Committee hearing this morning. The subject: how growing tarriff concerns may impact Iowans and other Americans. 

On this "politics day" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Evan Renfro, assistant professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa and Steffen Schmidt, Lucken Endowed professor of political science at Iowa State University, for a look at some of the top political headlines of the week.

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.

Penguin Books

Did you know that in 1958 the US Air Force investigated nuking the moon? This would not be the first, or last of many covert schemes considered by US intelligence that were birthed out of desperate situations.

Katarina Sostaric/IPR

When Iowa’s “fetal heartbeat” bill was signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in May, 2018 it was widely considered the most restrictive abortion law in the country. It was struck down by a Polk County judge early this year, who ruled that the law violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the Iowa Constitution, before the legislation could go into practice.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

  This program originally aired on 10-02-18.

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

UIHC

  This conversation originally aired on 6-4-18. 

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa has been approved to use a new therapy that harnesses the immune system to treat specific forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. George Weiner is director of the center and says the therapy shows great promise.

Emily Woodbury

Law professor and founder of the Texas Innocence Project, David Dow, has represented more than a hundred death row inmates during their state and federal appeals, and he draws from his firsthand experience in his debut novel, "Confessions of an Innocent Man."

Dow hopes the novel allows readers to ponder questions like, 'What is fairness?' 'Who deserves to be punished?' and 'What are the roles prejudice and wealth play in the criminal justice system?'

Wikimedia Commons

President Trump's escalating trade war with China is drawing criticism, even from some members of Congress friendly to his economic policies. Congress is preparing to issue a second set of federal payments to farmers facing tariffs while trade negotiations continue.

In this political discussion on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with analysts about the politics of the president's trade policies, escalating tensions with Iran and the latest developments in the 2020 race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

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.

Flickr

Iowa averages around seven bicycle crash fatalities per year. Tragically, three cyclists have lost their lives in the past two weeks alone. What can we do as drivers and cyclists to prevent these tragedies, and what can Iowa lawmakers do to protect the Iowans we share our roads with?

Wikimedia Commons

Last minute changes to the state health and human services budget have raised concern for members of Iowa’s LGBTQ community and organizations that provide sex education services as well as abortions.

Emily Woodbury

In this edition of Pints and Politics, panelists discuss the problems with determining the "electability" of presidential candidates, talk about Iowa's 2020 congressional races, and predict what unfinished legislative priorities might pop up again next year at the Iowa Statehouse. 

They also say farewell to Gazette columnist, Lynda Waddington, who is leaving her position as a columnist to take a job at Tanager Place, a regional nonprofit with a focus on children's mental health. 

Madeleine McCormick/IPR

This program originally aired on 8-7-18.

As we age, many things become more challening. That includes driving. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dan McGehee of the University of Iowa National Advanced Driving Simulator, and Larry Neppl, who is an instructor for AARP's Driving Safety Program. 

Iowa is second only to Florida in the highest percentage of licensed drivers over the age of 85, and ranks fourth in the nation in percentage of the population over the age of 65. 

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.

Roughly 15 percent of Iowa residents are ethnic minorities, yet the state has just a few non-white legislators.

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with the four members of Iowa's Legislative Black Caucus, formed last month: Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, D-Des Moines; Rep. Ras Smith, D-Waterloo; Rep. Phyllis Thede, D-Bettendorf; and Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines.

Kirsty Wigglesworth

The World Health Organization just released an alarming report predicting that by 2050, antibiotic resistance “could cause 10 million deaths each year.”

In this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with Iowa researchers and medical professionals about the worldwide threat of the increasing resistance to antibiotics, as well as the role livestock production plays in that increase.

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