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
1:00 pm
Fri September 17, 2010

Branding Iowa

Over the years various slogans have welcomed people to Iowa- The Tall Corn State, Fields of Opportunities and A place to Grow are just a few. We examine the perceptions of Iowa both from within the state's borders and outside. What is the best way to market the Hawkeye state?

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu September 16, 2010

Sexual Signals

Host Ben Kieffer discusses sexual signals and intimate relationships with Harry Brod, professor of philosphy and humanities at the Unviersity of Northern Iowa and main speaker in "Asking For It: The Ethics and Erotics of Sexual Consent." We talk about the DVD and the implications of misconceived sexual cues. We also speak with Teresa Downing-Matibag, a sociologist from Iowa State University and Jerrod Koon, coordinator for the Men's Anti-Violence Council in Iowa City.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed September 15, 2010

Politics Day

We get analysis of Tuesday's primaries in New Hampshire, Delaware and elsewhere from New Hampshire political analyst Arnie Arnesen and Political Science Professor Bruce Nesmith of Coe College. They'll also talk about the first Iowa gubernatorial debate between Chet Culver and Terry Branstad.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue September 14, 2010

Liberal Universities

Numerous studies have found that University campuses are liberal places and the vast majority of faculty self-identify as "liberal" when asked about their political leanings. New research, however, shows that a professor's political beliefs have little impact on the political beliefs of their students. Additionally, faculty rarely report being the victims of political discrimination. Host Ben Kieffer is joined by researchers to talk about these findings.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Mon September 13, 2010

Civility/The Big Sort

Americans are self-segregating… clustering themselves into like-minded communities. That’s according to Bill Bishop, the author of "The Big Sort." We’ll talk with Bishop in advance of an appearance at Drake University as part of the "Better Together Creating Community through Civility" speaker series. Then we talk with sponsors of the series about the state of civility in Iowa.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri September 10, 2010

Benefits of time outdoors

A new study by the National Wildlife Federation highlights findings that show children who spend more time outdoors have better attention spans, do better academically, and perform better on standardized tests. But, children are spending less and less time outdoors than ever before. We'll talk about what schools can and are doing to get kids outside, and explore opportunities outside of school to reconnect with nature.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu September 9, 2010

Suicide Prevention Efforts in Iowa

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. We'll have a conversation about steps being taken to prevent suicide in Iowa. We'll talk with the brother of someone who took his life in 2007 and how he's coping. Also, we'll have a conversation about prevention efforts in communities.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed September 8, 2010

Politics Day

Host Ben Kieffer talks with ISU Political Science Professors Dick Mansbach and Steffen Schmidt about U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and the next round of Middle East peace negotiations.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue September 7, 2010

International Writers on Current Events

Within the past few days, 38 writers from more than 30 different countries have arrived in Iowa. They're the newest residents of the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. Host Ben Kieffer talks with resident writers from Russia, Pakistan and New Zealand, along with the program's director poet and essayist Christopher Merrill. We'll see how their work is informed by current events and what they hope to accomplish during their 10 weeks in Iowa.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri September 3, 2010

Tailgating Rules

New rules for tailgating in Iowa City will take effect this weekend at the Hawkeyes' home opener. We'll talk about what's driving the crackdown and find out how other Big Ten schools are trying to curb drinking at home football games. Guests include Paula Jantz, Associate Athletic Director and David Visin, Associate Director of Public Safety at University of Iowa… David Crum, University of Minnesota Associate Athletic Director and Jeremy Freerks Board member for The Magic Bus tailgate.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu September 2, 2010

Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh on "Delivering Happiness" & Entrepreneurship in Iowa

In 1999, twenty-four year old Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) sold an internet company to Microsoft for $265 million. Now, the CEO of the online shoe retailer, Zappos, Hsieh writes and speaks about delivering happiness through great customer service. Thursday on "The Exchange" Tony Hsieh joins host Ben Kieffer. We'll also talk about entrepreneurial training at the college level in Iowa and we'll speak with one University of Northern Iowa student, Nick Cash, who's a finalist for college entrepreneur of the year.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed September 1, 2010

Politics Day

Host Ben Kieffer will be joined by Dennis Goldford, Professor of Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Drake University, and Cary Covington, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa. They'll dissect President Barack Obama's address to the nation on Tuesday. Also, the Iowa GOP has announced that Sarah Palin is coming to the state for the party's annual Ronald Reagan dinner later this month. The appearance is fueling speculation that Palin will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue August 31, 2010

The Mother Mosque of America & Pulitzer-prize winning and University of Iowa author Marilynne

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Imam Taha Tawil, the Imam for the Mother Mosque of America, which has been in Cedar Rapids since 1934. Then, we'll have a conversation with Pulitzer-prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. In her new book, "Absence of Mind," she takes up the religion vs. science debate, challenging those who crusade against religion under the banner of science.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Mon August 30, 2010

Harvest Public Media, Annie's Project & the 2010 Farm Progress Show

We'll meet Kathleen Masterson, the new agriculture reporter for IPR and hear more about the CPB grant that funds her position. Then, the founder of Annie's Project talks about efforts to empower more women to be part of the decision making process on their farms. Finally, we get a preview of the 2010 Farm Progress Show from Frank Holdmeyer, a former Farm Progress Show manager.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri August 27, 2010

Iraqi Education Initiative & Flooding in Pakistan

The first students to be part of the Iraq Education Initiative at the University of Iowa have arrived on campus. Host Ben Kieffer speaks with Scott King, Assistant Dean of International Programs at University of Iowa, who will tell us more about the effort. We'll also have a conversation with Rauf Arif, a University of Iowa graduate student from Pakistan. As the tremendous flooding in Pakistan continues we'll talk about how Pakistanis in the U.S. are keeping tabs on what's happening back home and how they think the U.S. media is doing at covering the catastrophe.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu August 26, 2010

Hostile Takeover Attempt of Casey's General Stores & Business Philanthropy

Host Ben Kieffer talks about a Canadian company's hostile takeover attempt of Casey's General Stores. Casey's is based in Ankeny and operates more than fifteen hundred convenience stores. We'll discuss what Casey's is doing to defend itself and how the Canadian company is fighting back. Later in the hour, a conversation about business philanthropy and how businesses decide what to sponsor.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed August 25, 2010

Politics Day

Host Ben Kieffer talks with New Hampshire Political Analyst Arnie Arneson and University of Iowa Professor Emeritus Bruce Gronbeck. Among the topics discussed- a Republican official from Iowa questioning the authenticity of President Obama's faith and Iowa Gubernatorial Candidate Terry Branstad's plan to scrap the Iowa Department of Economic Development.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue August 24, 2010

Comedy Central's Aasif Mandvi & Congressman Bruce Braley

Actor and Writer Aasif Mandvi has been a regular on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart since 2007. Known as the shows "Senior Islamic Correspondent", Mandvi often appears in segments satirizing and commenting on Islam and India-related issues. Ben Kieffer talks with Mandvi about his work and his lecture this week at The University of Iowa. Later in the hour, Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley joins the program. He'll discuss the egg recall, the future of the Lake Delhi Dam recreation area, and his U.S. manufacturing tour.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Mon August 23, 2010

Books and a Paperless Society

Students across Iowa are returning to school this week. College students are purchasing books at university bookstores, but some are bypassing the process and seeking other alternatives. Amazon.com is selling more electronic books than printed ones. Are we moving toward a paperless book society? Ben Kieffer's guests are Nancy Simpson-Brice, founder of The Book Vault in Oskaloosa and Gary Frost, Book Conservator for the University of Iowa Main Library.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri August 20, 2010

Iowa Egg Recall & Consumer Behavior

Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa has recalled more than 350 million eggs nationwide and there are suspected outbreaks of salmonella poisoning in more than ten states. Friday on "The Exchange" we'll talk about the recall and what you can do to protect yourself from getting sick. We'll also explore how grocery stores are affected by mass recalls and how consumer behavior changes.Guests Include: Dr.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu August 19, 2010

Highlights from the Iowa State Fair

Katherine Perkins and John Pemble take listeners to the Iowa State Fair. We'll hear the true stories of Iowa heroes, melt aluminum with Project AWARE, and talk with Jason Brown about the life of a fulltime country music singer and part-time truck driver.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed August 18, 2010

Politics Day

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Political Science professors Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College. Among the topics of discussion- the verdict in the Rod Blagojevich trial, Mike Huckabee with the lead in the Iowa polls among GOP contenders and former Senator John Culver's campaign for his son, Governor Chet Culver.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue August 17, 2010

Encore: The Elder Generation

Tuesday on The Exchange, we listen to back to a conversation host Ben Kieffer had with Theodore Roszak. In 1969, Roszak wrote the award-winning social commentary "The Making of a Counter Culture." His most recent work is a call to arms for the same generation called "The Making of an Elder Culture." In the book, Roszak suggests ways in which baby boomers can uniquely transform our society by picking up on the ideals they formed in the 60's.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Mon August 16, 2010

A New Look at the Floods of 2008

Host Ben Kieffer takes a looks back at the floods of 2008 through the eyes of author Stephen Lyons. Lyons' new book "The 1,000-Year Flood" looks back on the epic events of two years ago and how the city of Cedar Rapids has attempted to rebound from the devastation. We'll also get an update on the small southeast Iowa town of Oakville and its efforts to recover after major flooding in '08 nearly wiped out the entire town.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri August 13, 2010

Colonel Ben Corell & Chaplain Martha Kester

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Army National Guard Colonel Ben Corell. Col. Corell will lead 2,800 Iowa soldiers into Afghanistan in a mission to work with Afghan troops in stablizing the war-torn country. Then a conversation with Iowa National Guard Chaplain Martha Kester. Kester is the first female Iowa chaplain and is part of the Afghanistan deployment.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Thu August 12, 2010

World Tri Update & Overcoming Disability

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Des Moines resident Charlie Wittmack about his ten-thousand mile World Triathlon adventure. Wittmack just finished swimming the English Channel and will next embark on a biking trek from France to India before attempting a climb of Mount Everest. Wittmack's trip will cover 13 nations in just under one year. Later, Ben talks with photographer Kevin Connolly. Connolly was born without legs and writes about his experiences traveling the world on a skateboard. His memoir recounts the stories of how people have tried to understand his disability.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Wed August 11, 2010

Politics Day

We discuss the campaign launched by former republican gubernatorial candidate Bob VanderPlaats to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who are up for retention in November, along with other political issues. Guests include political scientists Tim Hagle from University of Iowa and Bruce Nesmith from Coe College.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Tue August 10, 2010

Nuclear Workers Compensation

Laboratory workers from the Cold War era and before were exposed to various toxics and radiation at the Ames Laboratory. Now that they have cancer or are suffering from an ailment associated with their work, they are regularly denied compensation. During this hour, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Ethelwyn Fellinger, the widow of the late Michael Fellinger, an Ames Laboratory worker who suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and received a letter denying his compensation claim on his death bed. Why is it so hard for these workers to receive compensation? We speak with Dr.

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River to River
1:00 pm
Mon August 9, 2010

Beauty is Pain

An Iowa State University study has found that the wearing of high heeled shoes can lead to knee degeneration and osteoarthritis in women. This hour we speak with one of the researchers who conducted the study along with a participant. Why do women do the things they do to be beautiful? Now that the participant knows that wearing high heeled shoes can be harmful, will she continue to wear them? What other things do women do for beauty that are proven to be harmful, and what motivates them to do it?

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River to River
1:00 pm
Fri August 6, 2010

Long-Term Care Options

By 2020, twelve million elderly Americans will need long-term care. It's anticipated that most will be cared for at home. What are the best options for seniors? Host Ben Kieffer talks with Di Findley, Executive Director of the Iowa Care Givers Association and Dana Petrowsky, Presdient and CEO of the Iowa Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

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