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.


Legislative Day
3:08 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Narrowing the Skills Gap in Iowa with Specialized Training

Construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and utilities, and health services make up 54.6% of Iowa’s middle to high skill job market
Frank Guido

Iowa has a shortage of skilled workers, leaving jobs in some of the most thriving industries unfilled.

Read more
News Buzz
2:15 pm
Sat January 24, 2015

How Facebook Hurts Grades

A new study from ISU suggests Facebook takes up cognitive function needed to focus on studying.
Dimitris Kalogeropoylos Flickr

The connections seems simple: the more time you're on Facebook, the more your grades suffer. 

Read more
News Buzz
5:04 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Bread Bags--Iowa's New Cultural Icon?

Grocery leftovers or fashionable footwear?
SV Johnson Flickr

In her State of the Union response, freshman Senator Joni Ernst repeated an anecdote from her victory speech evoking her "down-home" upbringing.

Read more
Religion and Science
5:18 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Are Religion and Science like Oil and Water?

Some believe science and religion can't coexist. Troy Van Voorhis disagrees.
fusky Flickr

When Troy Van Voorhis became a chemistry professor at MIT, he started getting questions from his students: Did science eliminate the need for religion? Did you have to be an atheist to be a good scientist?

Read more
Politics Day
5:28 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

State of the Union 2015: Realistic Ideas or Pipedreams?

screen shot

As President Barack Obama enters his last two years of the presidency, he faces a Republican majority in Congress.

Read more
Mental Health Services
6:51 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

What Mental Health Institutes Closures Mean for Southern Iowa

The mental health institution in Independence, Iowa.
kc7fys Flickr

In the budget proposal he released last week, Governor Branstad quietly cut funding for two of Iowa's four mental health institutes.

Read more
4:08 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Iowa Cities to Determine Regulations for Uber This Year

screenshot of Uber's log-in page

David Stoltze has been driving for Uber for about a month now. He says the work is pretty straightforward. 

Read more
Java Blend
1:35 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

The Nadas are IA's Favorite Mix of Alt, Rock, and Country

Download the podcast for a full hour with Iowa natives, The Nadas.
Image Provided By Artist

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

Read more
News Buzz
4:24 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Cyber-Vandalism, Cyber-Crime, and other Digital Threats to the U.S.

An online interactive map showing current cyber attacks worldwide
IP Viking -

Several U.S. military social media accounts were hacked this week by those claiming allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

Read more
Politics Day
4:51 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Cedar Falls Takes Center Stage as Internet Leader

A harvested cornfield outside of Cedar Falls. Getting reliable rural internet service is one of the struggles both Obama and Branstad are trying to tackle.
Parshotam Lal Tandon Flickr

President Obama announced a new plan to support community-run broadband in Cedar Falls today.

Read more
5:10 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Another Earth in the Cosmos?

The Kepler vehicle backdropped by Earth's horizon and the blackness of space
NASA NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

The Kepler mission may have lost two of its wheels, but data being mined from the mission has unearthed eight potentially habitable planets.

Read more
Java Blend
10:57 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Rebecca Rego's Music Bursts with Poetic Vocals

Download the podcast for a full hour with Illinois-based artist Rebecca Rego.

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

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the artist.

Read more
5:41 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

How Controversial Cartoons Become a Reason for Killing

A spread of Charlie Hebdo covers.
Gongashan Flickr

Twelve people, including four cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, were shot dead Wednesday in an apparent militant Islamist attack.

Read more
11:58 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Tracey Griesbaum and UI Provide Details on Firing

Photo of Tracey Griesbaum and players during an Iowa vs Indiana field hockey game in 2007
Jon Fravel

Today on River to River, we explore the controversy surrounding the firing of the University of Iowa’s former field hockey coach, Tracey Griesbaum, as well as take a broader look at what the playing field is like for female coaches in both men’s and women’s teams in the U.S.

Griesbaum led the UI field hockey team through 169 wins in 14 seasons. She posted 12 winning seasons and made six appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Read more
Statehouse and Politics
4:54 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Blum May Face Repercussions for Vote Against Speaker

Rod Blum (left) and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaking with small business owners at a business roundtable at MobileDemand in Hiawatha.
Gage Skidmore

Though Ohio Republican John Boehner won a third term as Speaker of the House, he does not have a friend in Iowa Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque.

Read more
Business and Economy
4:40 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Geoscientist: Crops Cannot Grow if Oil Spills from Proposed Bakken Pipeline

Fort Madison land owners attend a crowded informational meeting about the proposed pipeline.
Joyce Russell Iowa Public Radio

A Michigan State Geoscientist is warning about a possible oil spill from a proposed crude oil pipeline that could bisect 18 Iowa counties.

Read more
Java Blend
11:52 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Iowa Roots Band Brother Trucker Perfects "Iowa Sound"

Download the podcast for a full hour with local Iowa roots artists, Brother Trucker.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" host Ben Kieffer talks with Brother Trucker.

Download the podcast to find out more about the band and their Iowa-inspired music.

Read more
11:17 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Epilepsy's Fatal Potential

One in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime
cobalt123 / flickr

Epilepsy affects millions; and yet, the cause of the neurological disorder is in most cases is unknown.

Also unknown are the details of the leading cause of death from epilepsy, what medical professionals call "sudden unexpected death from epilepsy" or SUDEP. Recently, University of Iowa neurologists have been chosen to join only 8 other groups around the world to study SUDEP.

Read more
Java Blend
9:33 am
Mon January 5, 2015

A Soul Shaking Hour With Iowa Blues Legend Kevin BF Burt

Download the podcast for a full hour with Kevin BF Burt.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Kevin "BF" Burt.

Listen to the podcast to find out more about the the Coralville native and his music.

Read more
Year in Review
3:39 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

2014: The Year in Politics

John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

In 2014, Gov. Terry Branstad won an unprecedented sixth term as Governor of Iowa, and Iowans elected the state’s first woman to Congress when Republican Joni Ernst won her seat in the U.S. Senate. 

Read more
Year In Review
3:35 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Remembering Those We Lost: 2014 Obituary Show

Cemetery in Nevada, Iowa
Carl Wycoff Creative Commons License

Iowa lost many notable citizens and natives in 2014. As we wrap up the year, we remember a few as a tribute to all.

Read more
2014 in Review
3:00 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

IPR's Top Stories of 2014

Iowa Statehouse
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Data centers, legislative scuffles, and national park scandals: this year was big for Iowa news.

Read more
4:46 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Owl, Lark, or Somewhere In-between?

Ed Yourdon Flickr

Most people consider themselves either a night person or a morning person. What if you're sleepy all day long?

Read more
Java Blend
9:00 am
Mon December 22, 2014

A Rockin' Hour With Bob Dorr & The Blue Band

Download the podcast for a full hour with Iowa legends, Bob Dorr & The Blue Band

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host Ben Kieffer will chat with Bob Dorr & The Blue Band.

Read more
News Buzz
3:35 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

News Buzz: Stories from Iowa, Cuba, and West Africa

Havana, Cuba
Mauro Heck

This week, Havana erupted in celebration with the announcement of a new era of relations between Cuba and the United States. On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowan Mauro Heck, who has just returned from Cuba.

Heck says that while Cuba is beautiful and the people are inviting, the country is "organized chaos."

Read more
4:33 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Sisters Pleased with Vatican Report

a screenshot of the press conference held in Rome Tuesday morning to announce results of a report about nuns in the U.S.

In 2012, the Vatican accused Catholic nuns in the US of straying from church doctrine, but in a report released this week, the church now says it welcomes the efforts of the sisters.

Read more
River to River
2:50 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Deer Hunting in Iowa

Deer in Mount Vernon, IA
Rich Herrmann

It’s deer hunting season. On this edition of River to River, hunting concerns in Iowa, including the problem of poaching.

Read more
Politics Day
5:03 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Politics Day: Congressmen Legacies and the Invisible Primary

Jeb Bush announced this week he's "actively exploring" a presidential run.
The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Flickr

The invisible primary has ramped up with Jeb Bush's declaration that he is "exploring" a presidential run.

Read more
River to River
2:53 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Controversial Rolling Stone Article May Discourage Reports of Sexual Assault

Protesters at the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity after the initial release of Rolling Stone's UVA piece
Bob Mical

The controversy over the retracted Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape of a student identified only as "Jackie" at a fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus has sparked many debates. On this segment of River to River - the lessons learned in journalism, ethics, and the way new media impacts how these stories are told and discussed.

Read more
River to River
5:19 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Practices Detailed in Torture Report "not evidence-based" / flickr

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture contains some very grisly findings, detailing CIA interrogation techniques, like mock execution and sleep deprivation.

Read more