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.

Cassie Mathes / University of Northern Iowa

The University of Northern Iowa has been facing a series of challenges, including a decline in enrollment, freezing tuition costs and re-branding. On this segment of River to River, host Ben Kieffer spoke with UNI President Mark Nook about these challenges as well as the new renovations on the Cedar Falls campus and what he's most looking forward to for the 2019-20 academic year.

Guest:

Mark Nook, President, University of Northern Iowa

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

President Donald Trump expressed support for background checks in the days following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio and then appeared to walk back those statements this week. Did a meeting with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre change his mind? The President says no, clarifying that he still wants to "close loopholes," in the background check system.

cordeauphotos / creative commons

Two weeks after a mass shooting shook the nation, members of Iowa's Latino community share their reactions to the hate-fueled violence.

The shooter, who killed 22 people in El Paso on August 3rd, told police he was specifically targeting Mexicans. Now, Latino Iowans are questioning their own safety.

Stacey MacNaught/Flickr

 

This program origionally aired 2-12-19.

With social networks at our fingertips, it’s easy to feel like we’re more connected than ever before, but your constant scrolling, liking, and app downloading may actually decrease your quality of life.

University of Iowa College of Public Health

This program origionally aired 3-4-19.

The Iowa Cancer Registry's 2019 report shows new cases of most types of cancer are holding steady. Investigator Mary Charlton says the exception is cancers caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV.

Rick Brewer / IPR

On this "news buzz" edition of River to River, Donnelle Eller of the Des Moines Register offers an update on the impact of the China trade war on agriculture and farmers, Peggy Huppert of NAMI Iowa speaks about the stigma surrounding mass shootings and mental illness and IPR's Western Iowa Reporter Katie Peikes speaks about JD Scholten's announcement to run for Iowa's 4th congressional district seat.

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 Random House


IAHilltopper / Flickr

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission recently approved the final rules for betting on professional, college and fantasy sports contests.  On Aug. 15 at noon, legal sports wagering will be allowed in-person and through a moblie app.

John Pemble / IPR

In 2018, Democrat J.D. Scholten came close to unseating long-time Republican Congressman Steve King in Iowa’s 4th District. Now, Scholten says, he’ll try again in 2020.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political scientists Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Sara Mitchell of the University of Iowa about this race, the politics of gun violence, China's exit from the US Agriculture sector and other political headlines. 

Guests Include:

Martin Alvarez Espinar / FLICKR

Vacation season is in full swing, and with that, we get a refresher on the most common misconceptions when traveling by plane. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with a variety of guests about upcoming changes in the world of traveling via airplane  Specifically, what to do when going through Transportation Security Administration security, and how you can schedule your flight itinerary better.

Image courtesy of Terry rich

$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. 

Foxhoven Filing Claim Against Reynolds

Aug 2, 2019
Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

The former Iowa Department of Human Services Director, Jerry Foxhoven, is now filing a whistleblower claim against Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state of Iowa after being asked to resign this June. 

Reid Rosenberg / Flickr


The Epoch Times / Flickr


Carl Wycoff / Flickr

Volunteer fire and EMT services in the state, specifically in Iowa's rural areas, are struggling. Emergency specialists are aging out and retiring and there are not enough people to replace them. In some areas, the call response time is 30 minutes, long enough for a home to burn down.

Although there are private ambulance services in Iowa, there are some places where these services are no longer available because it isn't financially viable.

 

After a week-long journey from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, Host Ben Kieffer ends his first-hand narration of the 2019 RAGBRAI bike tour. 

The final day of RAGBRAI led Kieffer 65 miles to Keokuk, concluding with a tire dip in the river.

 

Soggy To Sunburnt

Jul 29, 2019

 

The sixth day of the annual RAGBRAI bike ride takes host Ben Kieffer 71 miles from Fairfield through Salem to Burlington.

As part of our limited-run Bike Shorts podcast series, He walks us through the details that make RAGBRAI unique, stopping to taste-test a dill pickle and pickle juice from a roadside vendor. Chad Ferris sells around a thousand pickles during RAGBRAI, which he says helps prevent and alleviate cramping thanks to the electrolytes in the juice. 

Pedaling Through Adversity

Jul 26, 2019

 

Host Ben Kieffer continues his trek across Iowa on RAGBRAI. Thursday's ride took bikers 68 miles from Centerville to Fairfield.

On this episode of the limited-run Bike Shorts podcast, Kieffer interviews several people about how adversity inspired their participation in the ride. Sisters Abbie Buscher and Ellie Larsen talk about biking to honor and remember their late mother. Larry Jewell shares how his goal to ride RAGBRAI got him through treatment for stage 4 cancer.

We also meet a unicyclist on the route and ask the question, "Where ya from?"

Host Ben Kieffer caputures day four of RAGBRAI as thousands of riders travel from Indianola to Centerville, which is the longest ride of the week. 

Kieffer also reflects on Tuesday afternoon, when two bikers crashed into each other coming down a steep hill into Indianola.  Both riders were flown out to hospitals and were reported to be in critical condition. Kieffer talks with former Des Moines Register columnist, Kyle Munson, about past RAGBRAI accidents and the importance of understanding safe cycling.  

Host Ben Kieffer takes us through his experiences on day three of RAGBRAI starting in Winterset, traveling through South Central Iowa, crossing over Interstate 35 to the eastern side of the state and finishing in Indianola. 

Host Ben Kieffer captures sounds and experiences on day two of RAGBRAI starting in Atlantic, passing hundreds of wind turbines along the Iowa countryside and finished with a pie-eating contest in Winterset. The fourth annual "Rhubarb Rumble" pie eating relay pits Team NPR (No Pie Refused) against the Des Moines Register. You'll hear from IPR's own Clay Masters, Kyle Munson and Courtney Crowder of the Des Moines Register, and of course, Scott Horsely (aka Fork Guy) of Team NPR.

Host Ben Kieffer takes us through preparations for RAGBRAI 2019, from loading up, to locating NPR's team "No Pie Refused," in Council Bluffs. We hear how teams are handling the storms and significant rain on Sunday, a 58 mile ride to Atlantic. Along the way we meet a 93-year-old doing his 7th RAGBRAI, and a couple rollerblading the 427 miles across Iowa.

BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives

This program origionally aired 11-15-18.

We think of Winston Churchill as a hero who saved the world from Nazism and warned of Soviet communism. But what does Churchill have to teach us about the challenges that leaders face today?

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with New York Times Bestselling author Andrew Roberts about his new book "Churchill: Walking with Destiny." Roberts draws on new material never before used to pen a Churchill biography, including King George the VI's wartime diaries. 

Dave Herholz / Flickr

The Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, known as RAGBRAI, is just days away.  The recreational bicycle tour will take place July 21 through July 27 where about 10,000 registered riders from all 50 states and some international will travel through Iowa. 

pressley.house.gov

This week, U. S. House lawmakers voted to condemn President Trump's recent tweets aimed at four Democratic congresswomen as racist.

Atavic Art / Flickr

The current evaluation of forensic evidence might be flawed and prone to errors.  Recent goverment reports from the United States and the United Kingdom have condemned the failings of the use of forensic science.  

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.

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