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.

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Politics Day
3:59 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Ukraine Crisis Deepens

A Ukrainian protest, February 2014
blu-news.org Flickr Creative Commons

As the Ukrainian crisis deepens, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Donna Hoffman of University of Northern Iowa about U.S. response.  Other topics include, the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the Washington Post and the Guardian for their coverage of the NSA, a new climate change study, and Stephen Colbert's new Late Night gig.

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Politics
3:57 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

The Political Gap: Campaigning and Serving as a Woman

Hillary Rodham Clinton delivering her victory speech at the Manhattan Center Studios, following the New York 2008 primary
Angela Radulescu https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode

Women currently make up 18.5 percent of the U.S. Congress. Yet Iowa is one of only two states that has never elected a woman to Congress nor had a female governor.

This hour, a look at the gender gap in politics – Why do women run for office less than their male counterparts? When they are in office, how do they govern?

Some highlights from today's guests:

Three reasons for the gender gap in political ambition: from Jennifer Lawless, Director of the Women & Politics Institute and Professor of Government at American University

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Live Music Events
1:11 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Crankshaft

Join us at The Java House for a live hour with Crankshaft and the GearGrinders
Trixie Longstockings

On Friday, April 18,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Crankshaft.

Ben Kieffer will chat with the artist to find out more about him while he performs a live 50-minute set. This program is free and open to the public!

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River to River
3:47 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Richard Dawkins

Apes or hominoids are all descendants of a common ancestor.
en.wikipedia.org

Acclaimed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins returns to Iowa this Saturday.  Dawkins will speak at Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines at a ticketed event put on by SecularityUSA, which advocates for secularism in American government.

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River to River
3:24 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

The End of Session and Soil Conditions

Though it's difficult to say when the 2014 legislative term will end, lawmakers' per diem will run out on May 22.
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about developments surrounding the confidential settlements within Governor Branstad's administration and the end of the legislative session.

Also, planting season is right around the corner. Iowa State University agronomist and ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor discusses soil conditions throughout Iowa.

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River to River
2:36 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

No More VEISHEA?

Proceeds from VEISHEA's iconic cherry pies go to HRIM program scholarships.
Bob Elbert Iowa Public Radio

On Wednesday, the rest of the 2014 VEISHEA celebration was suspended due to a riot on Tuesday that left one student with severe head injuries and extensive property damage.  Rioters in the Campustown area of Ames turned over cars, tore down light poles, and pelted police with rocks and beer cans.

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Health Care
4:52 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Delivering Better and More Affordable Care to Emergency Room "Super-Users"

Dr. Joshua Pruitt at St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids
Durrie Bouscaren

Some Iowans visit hospital emergency rooms more than 15 times a year. They’re known as “frequent-flyers” or super-users of the ER. Today on River to River, how our system handles them.

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Politics Day
4:26 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Putin's Motives in Ukraine Hard to Decode

U.S. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a bilateral meeting in 2012
Pete Souza Official White House photo

As protests continue in Eastern Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry says it's clear the chaos is being orchestrated by Russia.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College and Jim McCormick, Professor and Chair of Political Science at Iowa State University about Russian President Valdimir Putin's motivations.  They also discuss the politics of equal pay, and the recent firing of Department of Administrative Services Director Mike Carroll.

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Java Blend
12:17 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Rebecca Rego

Tune in for this special hour with Rebecca Rego.
regorego.com

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Rebecca Rego.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the Wisconsin based artist.

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River to River
3:29 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Understanding the Crimean Crisis

Satellite image of Crimea.
NASA

Russia has warned that any use of force in Ukraine's eastern region could lead to civil war. This comes as Kiev seeks to regain control after pro-Moscow uprisings in three cities.  This hour, host Ben Kieffer listens to two perspectives on the crisis.

Roman Skaskiw is a Ukrainian-American software developer and graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop living in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.  He sees most of the pro-Putin sentiment as fake and orchestrated

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News Buzz
4:08 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

'As Night Falls,' it's Time for David Skorton

An African bull elephant at the National Museum of Natural History. That's part of the Smithsonian which will be led by former Iowan David Skorton
Smithsonian Institution

David Skorton used to open his Iowa Public Radio jazz show like this, "As night falls over the river city and all of eastern Iowa, it's time for jazz."

Skorton is the former president of the University of Iowa, and has served as president of Cornell University, and he will become the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institute next year.  You might remember his radio jazz show “As Night Falls” which he co-hosted with the late Frank Conroy.  Hear about Skorton's  expectations of his upcoming job:

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News Buzz
3:06 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

This Helmet Has a Brain

Shawn Cornally holds a student-designed helmet with concussion detection hardware. (host Ben Kieffer in background)
Ben Stanton/Iowa Public Radio

The brain on this helmet is designed with the idea of protecting your brain from a concussion. Built into it is what amounts to a small computer.  It was designed and programmed by an Iowa student.  

Different LEDs light up depending on how hard the helmet is getting jostled. This project is one of many that students might get involved in through The Big Ideas Group, which is an optional education program through the Cedar Rapids School District.

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Java Blend
11:23 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Jason Carl

Tune in for a full hour of Davenport's Jason Carl and the Whole Damn Band.

 In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Davenport rockers, Jason Carl and the Whole Damn Band.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about their latest self-titled album.

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Varnum Anniversary
2:54 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Iowa Leads Nation in Trend toward Same-Sex Marriage

Trish (left) and Kate (right) Varnum live in Cedar Rapids. Kate was the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court Case that paved the way for same-sex marriage in Iowa
Clay Masters IPR

In 2009, the Varnum decision made Iowa the third state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Fast forward five years later, and 17 states now sanction same-sex marriage, several others allow civil unions, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled a federal same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer takes a look at how public and political attitudes on same-sex marriage have shifted, as well as acknowledging the groups that have remained steadfast in their position.

The guests on today's program include:

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Politics Day
4:18 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Opening the Floodgates for Money in Politics

401(K)2012 / flickr

Four years after the Citizens United ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a landmark decision that frees the nation's wealthiest donors to have greater influence in federal elections. Today on politics day, analysis of the court's decision.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Stephen Schmidt and Timothy Hagle.

Also, a last-minute enrollment surge enabled the White House to meet its original sign-up target for the Affordable Care Act, a surprising victory for the Obama administration. How does this change the political landscape?

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River to River
2:12 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Technology and Health

The National Institutes of Health recommends that kids should be limited to two hours a day to screen time.
Peter Merholz

Today, kids average six hours of screen time a day.  According to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics, children whose parents limit screen time get more sleep, do better in school, have fewer behavior problems and lower their risk of obesity.  Doug Gentile, associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, discusses the reverse results on the studies. 

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River to River
3:46 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Board of Regents Efficiency Study

The Old Capitol on the University of Iowa, May 19, 2006.
Matt Yohe

The first of three public hearings was held today at the University of Iowa in advance of a comprehensive efficiency review by the Iowa Board of Regents.  The review is expected to generate $15-25 million in savings.

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River to River
3:25 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Iowa City's Oculus Rift

Host Ben Kieffer rides a roller coaster on the Oculus Rift, March 28, 2014.
Kirk Cheyney

Fab Labs, started in 2007 by MIT, aim to democratize access to tools and technology. In May, The S.T.E.A.M. Room Fab Lab, will open on the eastside of Iowa City.  S.T.E.A.M Room Director of Operations Kirk Cheyeny says visitors will have access, "To any tool you need to build anything that you want."

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River to River
2:59 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

News Buzz: Cyclones at the Sweet 16

Iowa State Cyclone Melvin Ejim defending Kansas Jayhawk forward Kevin Young in Ames, Jaunary 28, 2012. Ejim was chosen as Big 12 Player of the Year earlier this month.
SD Dirk

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Public Radio's Des Moines correspondent Rick Fredricksen about how lobotomies became common practice for curing PTSD in Iowa veterans after WWII.  Also, the Des Moines Register's Bryce Miller discusses the Cyclones in the Sweet 16, and the University of Iowa turns down HBO's

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Java Blend
9:57 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With The PBJs

Tune in for this special hour with indie folk rockers, The PBJs

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with southeast Iowa indie folk-rockers, The PBJs.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the sweet and salty duo.

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Politics Day
3:01 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Farmer from Iowa Comment and Castration Ad Focus National Attention on Iowa's Senate Race

State Senator and GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Joni Ernst
Squeal JoniforIowa.com

Video has surfaced of Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley at a private Texas fundraiser with trial lawyers drawing a stark contrast between a future with him serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a future with GOP Senator Charles Grassley Chairing that committee.  In the video, Braley describes Grassley as an "Iowa farmer" who "never went to law school."  Slate has called it the

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Politics Day
1:46 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

'Farmer...Never Went to Law School'

Congressman Bruce Braley speaks to the crowd at the 2013 Iowa Democratic Party Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines
Gregory Hauenstein https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode

Iowa Congressman and Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley has apologized for comments he made at a January fundraiser in Texas. 

"If you help me win this race, you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice ... on the Senate Judiciary Committee," Braley said. "Or you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee."

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River to River
3:16 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Honoring Veterans in Hospice

The Korean War Veterans Memorial, May 1, 2008.
Janet Crum

Serving in the military changes one's perspective on life, but often it also alters the way they face death.  Ben Kieffer speaks with Deborah Grassman, the CEO and co-founder of Opus Peace.  Opus Peace  is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people work through trauma.

Prior to Opus Peace, Grassman worked as a nurse practitioner for three decades at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was also the director of the VA's hospice program and personally took care of over 10,000 dying veterans.

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Music
12:28 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Vinyl's Comeback & the Rise of Music Streaming

Daytrotter albums at Ragged Records, in Davenport
Ragged Records / facebook

Today on River to River, we explore the continuing changes in the music industry...including the fact that more and more users are listening from large online libraries of music – like Rhapsody, Spotify, or Pandora – rather than purchasing individual songs or albums. We also discuss why vinyl records are making a comeback.

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Java Blend
12:18 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour with Tiff Jimber

Tune in to catch rising pop-star from California, Tiff Jimber.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Santa Monica based pop-rocker,  Tiff Jimber.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about her and her recent U.S. tour.

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River to River
2:03 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

CSI: Iowa

Blood spattered on pavements in London, March 27, 2010.
foistclub

Over a hundred years ago, searching for fingerprints became routine for crime scene investigation. In the intervening years the tools of forensic investigation have greatly evolved.

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River to River
2:15 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Murky Waters and Pi Day

Though Iowa’s rivers and streams may look particularly scummy or murky, the DNR says the state’s waterways are perfectly fine. The murky appearance is caused by organic matter and is safe.
Ben Kieffer Iowa Public Radio

Is winter almost over?  And how has the long, harsh season affect Iowa's waterways and aquatic life?  Also, the latest Quinnipiac poll, 2014's Cancer in Iowa report, Iowa's new tourism ad campaign and Pi Day at the Science Center of Iowa.

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Health
2:07 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Surviving and Thriving After a Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Dr. Terry Wahls: on the left, second stage MS (2007) - on the right, out of the wheelchair (2008)
http://terrywahls.com/

She was a marathoner and a mountain climber, but when Dr. Terry Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she faced a bedridden life.

This hour, we learn how she beat progressive MS.

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River to River
4:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

President Obama Sits Between Two Ferns

Java Blend
11:47 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Comfort Kings

Tune in to hear Cedar Valley's own Comfort Kings.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Waterloo's renowned bluegrass and folk string band, Comfort Kings.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about their latest album, Prairie Fire.

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