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.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Donna Hoffman of  the University of Northern Iowa, for a look at what the results from Super Tuesday mean for the rest of the primary season. 

Jessica Hill / AP Photo

In many countries, the novel coronavirus continues to spread at a fast pace. As of March 3, the U.S. has confirmed nine deaths in the state of Washington, and there are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska. How at risk is the U.S. as the number of confirmed cases increases and what is Iowa doing to prepare for a potential pandemic

John Pemble/IPR file

Iowa is the only state in the nation that still automatically bans all people with felony convictions from voting. As of now, it’s up to the tens of thousands of Iowans with such convictions to appeal to the state to get their voting rights restored – a process that faced a significant backlog in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

Curology / Unsplash

Ben Kieffer hosts this "news buzz" edition of River to River focusing on a variety of news stories from this week including the verdict in the Jerry Lynn Burns trial, preparing for the new coronavirus, an Iowa National Guard deployment, statehouse news, the UNI men's basketball home winning streak and grooving into the weekend with IPR Studio One host Cece Mitchell.

Suzy Brooks / Unsplash

Article 2, section 2, clause 1 of the United States Constitution grants presidents the right to pardon those convicted of federal crimes. Since George Washington, presidents have been granting pardons and commutations. Even though the checks and balances written into the constitution for all three branches of government shape power dynamics, this article grants unilateral power to the president.

AP Photo

 

On this "politics day" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa for a look at the future of the Democratic caucuses in Nevada and Iowa, following comments from some Nevada state leaders that call the future of Nevada's caucus process into question.

 

The trio also discuss the latest democratic presidential debate as well as other political headlines from the week. 

USDAGOV / Creative Commons

There are several changes to the 2020 U.S. census. For example, for the first time ever, people will be given the option to fill out the census online and through a mobile app. These changes, however, do not come without their own set of challenges.

John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa lawmakers considered dozens of bills last week ahead of a legislative deadline known as the first “funnel” of the 2020 session.

Most bills that don’t relate to taxes or budgets had to pass through a subcommittee and full committee by the end of last week to remain eligible for debate. 

Richard Lee / Unsplash

On this “News Buzz” edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with a variety of guest about the week’s latest news stories. This episode includes an update on a forty-year-old cold case in Davenport, what legislation made it through the first deadline at the Statehouse, and the worrying results about bald eagle populations in Iowa. 

We also hear about new research from Iowa State University that can determine the age of a fingerprint, and the many problems in getting adequate emergency medical services in Iowa.

Guests:

Ben Moon

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Doug Peacock about his work in the wilderness, tracking dangerous animals, his fight against climate change and his crusade to save grizzly bears.

Peacock is the author of “The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears”, “Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness” and “Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness.”

Department of Defense

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Jerry Yocum, vice president of the Camp Algona POW Museum Committee, historian and lead writer of “13,000 Nights: Kossuth County Men in Axis POW Camps in WWII.”

The Kossuth County enlisted men, John Muehe, Gordon Dimler, Richard Lavrenz, Howard Smith, John Spongberg and Donald Chiquet all spent more than 747 nights in German captivity. All of them survived.

Yocum said it took four years to research, document and dig deep to tell the stories of these prisoners of war.  

Guest:

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political scientists Jim McCormick and Jonathan Hassid, of Iowa State University about President Trump's unhappiness with William Barr after the Attorney General said Trump's tweeting was making it "impossible for him to do his job."

They also discuss Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who has spent more than $400 million on his 2020 campaign so far, and what that means for elections of the future. And Ben has his guests reflect on COVID-19's impact on the Chinese economy and the state of Afghanistan today.

Lindsey Moon / IPR

Dear Experienced Iowans, 

When I told friends and family back in Texas that I would be walking onto a frozen lake, they all had the same question: “ A lake... is that safe?” Those comments where quickly followed by: “It was nice knowing ya.” 

Katie Peikes / IPR File

For communities along the Iowa side of the Missouri River, March of 2019 was a disaster. Flooding rocked the region impacting residents, business owners and farmers. Forecasts for the spring of 2020 suggest new flooding conditions, which could impact many of these communities still recovering from last year’s impact.

John Pemble / IPR

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that could open the door to more abortion restrictions within the state.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On this "News Buzz" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with a variety of guests about the week's latest news stories. This episode includes interviews about the trial of a forty-year-old cold case in Davenport, the resignation of Troy Price as the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and bills that have made headway in the Iowa statehouse.

AP

What communication styles have made past U.S. presidents effective? And to what degree are those communication principles reflected in the current president, or in the presidential candidates in the 2020 race?

Michael Longmire / Unsplash

Iowa’s death rate from opioid overdoses is lower than many states, but it is increasing. A new study from the University of Iowa’s Injury Prevention Research Center presents ideas for getting ahead of this trend.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

 

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with political analysts Megan Goldberg, assistant professor of American politics at Cornell College and Kendron Barwell, chair and professor of political science at Simpson College, about Iowa’s future in the nominating process after messy caucus results. They also discuss how Iowa's caucuses shaped the New Hampshire primary, as well as other political headlines of the week.

 

Guest Include:

Matthew Henry / Unsplash

From cell phones, web browsers, credit cards, to walking down streets, people are under some form of surveillance practically every minute of everyday. What are the consequences of our surveillance culture? Are consumers truly powerless? 

John Pemble / IPR File

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about the ongoing debate within the Iowa house and senate regarding how much of the state budget will go toward funding k-12 education. 

John Pemble/IPR

In this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with University of  Nothern Iowa political science professor Donna Hoffman about the latest caucus counting news and IPR's digital team about their concerns over social media in the wake of delayed results from the Iowa caucus. He also covers several other topics from the week's news.

Guests include:

Natalie Krebs/IPR

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts about the likely impact of the Iowa Democratic Party's delay in reporting results of the Iowa caucuses Monday night. Sara Mitchell, F Wendell Miller Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa, and Wayne Moyer, professor of political science at Grinnell College agreed the delay was a black eye for Iowa and damaging to its first-in-the-nation status.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

It's unclear who officially won the Democratic caucuses Monday. Many caucusgoers were left with more questions than answers as the Iowa Democratic Party precincts struggled to report results. 

Ben Kieffer / IPR

River to River's Ben Kieffer attended President Donald Trump's rally in Des Moines at Drake University's Knapp Center in front of a max capacity crowd just four days before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 

John Pemble / IPR File

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. 

With the Iowa caucuses just days away, Kieffer and Klobuchar discussed campaigning, impeachment, her polling numbers among black voters, climate change, foreign policy, and immigration. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Democratic presidential candidate and businessman Tom Steyer. During this conversation, Steyer addresses his top policy priorities, which include declaring a climate emergency. Steyer also reflects on how his previous experience in business would help him conduct foreign policy and why he started the "need to impeach" movement in 2017.   

John Pemble / IPR File

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor of South Bend, IN, Pete Buttigieg less than one week away from the Iowa caucuses. 

WNYC

Kai Wright is the host of "The United State of Anxiety," a podcast from WNYC Studios. The newest season of the podcast focuses on what it means to build a multiracial democracy in 2020 and if that reality is even possible.  On this segment of River to River Kai Wright joins host Ben Kieffer ahead of a live taping of "The United State of Anxiety" at the University of Iowa on Jan. 27. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

River to River host Ben Kieffer talks with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren just 10 days ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Kieffer spoke with Warren Friday morning before she returned to the U.S. Senate chamber to continue impeachment trial proceedings.

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