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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River to River
11:00 pm
Wed January 18, 2012

Certified Caucus Results and Dr. Jane Goodall

Certified results from the Iowa Caucus contest of January 3rd now show former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum leading former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by 34 votes.  We get analysis of what this means from University of Iowa political science professor Tim Hagle and Iowa State University political science professor David Petersen.  Later in the program, host Ben Kieffer talks with globe-trotting icon and U.N. Messenger of Peace Dr.

River to River
11:00 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Politics Day

Voters in South Carolina go to the polls Saturday, January 21st and there will be one less candidate in the Republican field. Host Ben Kieffer, looks ahead to the voting and back on the latest GOP Presidential debate with Iowa State University's Steffen Schmidt and Coe College's Bruce Nesmith. They also talk about Jon Huntsman's departure and whether Mitt Romney takes on a sense of inevitability if he does well in a third nominating contest.

River to River
11:00 pm
Sun January 15, 2012

Encore Edition: Being African-American in Iowa

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we listen back to a program from September of last year. As part of IPR's Being in Iowa series, we examine the African-American experience in Iowa. Ben's guest's are Waterloo East High School Principal Dr. Willy Barney, counselor Shannon Harrington and Des Moines University Medical Director Dr. Carolyn Beverly.

River to River
11:00 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Life in the Next America and Lead-free solder

Host Ben Kieffer talks with PBS senior correspondent and former “Talk of the Nation” host Ray Suarez who will deliver the 2012 UI Health Care Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

River to River
11:00 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Congressman Braley and New Video Games Research

The 112th Congress convenes next week.  We'll check in with Iowa 1st District Congressman Bruce Braley on his priorities, including working with the Postal Service to streamline costs in an effort to keep a number of small town post offices open. Later, Iowa State University Associate Professor of Psychology Doug Gentile sheds light on new research understanding the positive and negative ways in which video games can affect cognition and behavior. 

River to River
11:00 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Politics Day: New Hampshire Primary

Voters in New Hampshire are weighing in on the Republican Presidential race.  We analyze the results of the first-in-the-nation primary with Josh Rogers of New Hampshire Public Radio, Granite State political analyst Arnie Arnesen and Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa.  Join host, Ben Kieffer, as we discuss the outcome and implications.  Who moves on to South Carolina?  Who bows out?

River to River
11:00 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Consumer Protection in Iowa

After months of battling in Washington, President Barack Obama made the controversial appointment of Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Bill Brauch, director of the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division about the new bureau and about consumer protection in Iowa.  We’ll also hear the story of one Iowan who lost nearly $30,000 in a credit card scam.

River to River
11:00 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

Legislative Session Preview

Iowa’s 85th General Assembly convenes in Des Moines at the state capitol Monday. We take this hour to check in with a few of the state’s representatives and senators and ask what is on their agendas for the 2012 session. In the first half, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Representatives Josh Byrnes from Osage and Tom Sands from Columbus Junction. Then in the second half, we'll hear from Senators Matt McCoy from Des Moines, Randy Feenstra from Hull and Rob Hogg from Cedar Rapids.

River to River
11:00 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Changing Weather and Homeland Security Priorities

The shovels and snow blowers remain locked in the garage and golf courses are open for business- not the typical January in Iowa. Ben talks with Craig Cogil of the National Weather Service about changing Midwest weather patterns and State Climatologist Harry Hillaker checks in with his 2011 weather summary. Later, the new head of Iowa's Homeland Security Department, Mark Schouten, lays out his priorities for the coming year.

River to River
11:00 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Politics Day: Caucus Recap

Who won? Who lost? And what were the biggest surprises of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses? Ben is joined by Drake University Political Scientist Dennis Goldford for complete analysis of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation votes. New Hampshire political analyst Arnie Arnesen joins the conversation to preview the New Hampshire Primaries.

River to River
11:00 pm
Mon January 2, 2012

Inspirational Presidential Speeches

Do inspirational words of the past fit into the politics of today? We attempt to answer that question by examining some of the most influential presidential campaign speeches of the 20th century. Ben's guest is Michael Cohen, whose book Live from the Campaign Trail brings to life the words that have shaped American politics over the last century.  Consultant Jim Anderson joins the conversation to reveal the science of successful speech writing.

River to River
11:00 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Last-Minute Caucus Push

In the final hours before the caucuses, we touch base with Iowa Public Radio reporters across the state covering the candidates. Political Science professors Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Bruce Nesmith of Coe College join the discussion to examine last-minute polling prior to Tuesday's first-in-the-nation votes.

River to River
12:00 pm
Fri December 2, 2011

Being Physically Disabled in Iowa

All this week we've been hearing what it's like being physically disabled in Iowa. Reports from Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard have highlighted many facets from the lives of people who are blind, deaf, and who have trouble with mobility. Today we wrap up the series with several different perspectives on the topic, including that of a blind twenty-two year old college student and a disabled man from Ankeny, who recently grabbed headlines for climbing to the top of Chicago's tallest building.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Being African-American in Iowa

All this week Rob Dillard has continued his series, "Being in Iowa," on Iowa Public Radio with a look at the African-American experience in the state. Today we wrap up this week's series with a discussion about the gaps that exist between African-Americans and the rest of the country: gaps in the areas of education, jobs, and health. We'll find out what's behind those gaps and how we can cover them. Guests include Waterloo East High School Principal Dr. Willy Barney, Shannon Harrington - the owner of a counseling business in Waterloo, and Des Moines University Medical Director Dr.

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Education
1:00 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

Being Muslim in Iowa

This week, Rob Dillard's series, "Being Muslim in Iowa," has highlighted Iowa's rich Muslim history. It's a history that includes the establishment of the Mother Mosque of America in Cedar Rapids nearly eighty years ago. This hour we'll explore Iowa's Muslim connections. We'll talk with Lisa Killinger, an Iowa woman who was raised Episcopalian and eventually converted to Islam. Also, Professor Mahmoud Hamed of Drake University and Miriam Amer, Executive Director of the Iowa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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Education
1:00 pm
Fri May 27, 2011

Being a Veteran in Iowa

All this week we've been hearing what it's like being a Veteran in Iowa. Our reports from Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard have highlighted many facets of the lives of former soldiers: the mental anguish of war, concerns about health care, and the drive lure young veterans into military organizations. Today we wind up our week-long focus on veterans in Iowa with conversations about many of these topics.

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Arts and Culture
1:00 pm
Fri April 1, 2011

Being Latino in Iowa

All this week we’ve been hearing what it’s like “Being Latino in Iowa” from Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard. This hour, we top off the series with discussion about the pull many Iowa Latinos feel between the need to assimilate into American culture and the desire to hold on to their heritage. Rob Dillard will join us. Also, JoAnn Mackey, Executive Director of Latino Resources; Juan Pena of New Life Furniture in Des Moines; and Nancy Gardner, Principal of West Liberty Elementary School, a school with the only dual language program in the state.

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News
1:00 pm
Fri February 25, 2011

Funding for Public Broadcasting

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Join host Ben Kieffer as we discuss the possible end of taxpayer funding for public broadcasting. Guests include Ed Failor Jr. of Iowans for Tax Relief, Jeff Stein of Wartburg College and the Iowa Broadcast News Association, and representatives of Iowa Public Television and Iowa Public Radio.

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News
1:00 pm
Wed February 23, 2011

Politics Day

Labor interests are watching the protests in Wisconsin as Republicans at the Iowa statehouse talk about changing the level of benefits for state employees. We'll talk about what's happening in the relationship between elected officials and the workers who carry out the state's business. We'll look at the issues front and center at the Iowa statehouse with the University of Iowa's Tim Hagle and the University of Northern Iowa's Chris Larimer.

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News
1:00 pm
Tue February 22, 2011

College Climate Survey: LGBT Students in Iowa

A new survey of lesbian and gay students at Iowa's colleges and universities shows harassment remains common throughout the state. Host Ben Kieffer explores the Iowa Pride Network's newest survey - about its implications and recommendations. We'll also talk about what colleges and universities are doing to foster a safe environment for gay students. Then, we'll be joined by Warren Blumenfeld of Iowa State University about the U.S. Department of Education's efforts to stop discrimination.

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News
11:00 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Caught in the Middle

Author and award-winning foreign correspondent Richard Longworth joins host Ben Kieffer to examine rural America's fight to stay viable in the new global economy. Longworth is leading a panel discussion at Wartburg College next week looking at regional economic issues. His book 'Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism' laments middle Ameria's failure to extricate itself from dying traditions and outmoded institutions.

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News
1:00 pm
Thu February 17, 2011

Congressman Bruce Braley & Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady

Iowa 1st district Congressman Bruce Braley discusses the President's 2012 Budget and his new leadership role on the House Veterans Affairs committee. Then the new leader of the Iowa Supreme Court talks about the November retention election vote that saw the removal of three judges from the bench. Chief Justice Cady also discusses the public's perception of the courts.

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News
1:00 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Politics Day

Host Jonathan Ahl welcomes to the program Iowa State University Political Science Professor Steffen Schmidt and New Hampshire political analyst Arnie Arnesen. Among the topics of discussion- President Obama's 2012 budget, the Middle East and North Africa are in the midst of government overhauls and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's plans for pre-school funding.

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News
1:00 pm
Tue February 15, 2011

Iowa Census Results & The Greensboro 4

In the first half of the program a look at results of the 2010 census. Iowa State University Economics Scientist Liesl Eathington breaks down what parts of Iowa are gaining and losing population. We'll look at what the numbers mean for job growth with Beth Waddle of the Adams Community Economic Development Corporation and Linda Schaut of the Greater Dallas County Development Alliance. Later, a conversation with Joseph McNeil, one of four African-American college freshman who in 1960 staged a sit-in at a North Carolina dime store lunch counter.

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News
1:00 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

School Fund-raising & New Ways of Evaluating Students

It used to be fund-raising for schools was only a matter of selling magazine subscriptions or candy bars. Now, it can involve a whole catalog of items. Join host Ben Kieffer as we examine the evolution of fund-raising for schools, how important it's become and ask whether in some cases, it's gone too far. Also, are letter grades the best way to evaluate and motivate students? Next fall, Waukee Middle School will abandon letter grades in favor of a standards-based approach.

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News
1:00 pm
Wed February 9, 2011

Politics Day

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Bruce Gronbeck from University of Iowa and Wayne Moyer from Grinnell College about developments in Egypt, President Obama meeting with the Chamber of Commerce and U.S. House republican leaders and the continuing debate over same sex marriage in Iowa.

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News
1:00 pm
Tue February 8, 2011

Space Exploration

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Peter Smith, professor at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He was responsible for the $420-million Phoenix Mars Mission, part of NASA's search for elements of life in our solar system. During the five months of operations, the probe conducted science experiments and relayed more than 25,000 pictures of the Red Planet. Then, he talks with University of Iowa Physics Professor Craig Kletzing about the NASA mission he is leading to learn more about space weather. Radiation Belt Storm Probes is scheduled to launch in March 2012.

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News
1:00 pm
Fri February 4, 2011

Oral Health/Zach Wahls/Record Snowfall

During the first half of the program we’ll talk about Give Kids a Smile Day - a day when thousands of the nation’s dentists provide free oral health care to children from low-income families across the country. Guests include Dr. Paul Hoverstein of Iowa Falls, Dr. Michael Kanellis of the University of Iowa, and Janelle Durlin of Story County Community Dental Clinic Later, we'll talk with University of Iowa student Zach Wahls about the three minute video of his recent address about same sex marriage at the Iowa statehouse. Wahls was raised by two women.

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News
11:00 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

Protests in Egypt

The United States government and other world leaders have condemned demonstrations which have turned violent in Egypt. Many Egyptians are demanding the ouster of that country's leader, President Hosni Mubarak. Host Ben Kieffer examines the protests in Egypt and their political ramifications both at home and abroad. We'll talk with Anwar Mohamed, a graduate student in political science at Iowa State University who’s from Egypt, with political analysts, and with an American who recently left the country. 

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River to River
11:00 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Iowa Department of Education Director & Former Labor Secretary

In the first half-hour host Ben Kieffer talks with new Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass. Glass, an Ohio education consultant, is a former teacher and administrator who has a reputation as a school reformer. Later, a conversation with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. During his tenure, he implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act and successfully promoted increasing the minimum wage, successfully lobbied to pass the School-to-Work Jobs Act. Reich was scheduled to lecture in Iowa this week, but was forced to postpone his appearances due to illness.

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