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.

Pages

River to River
1:00 pm
Tue February 16, 2010

Iowa Documentarians

The film 'The Cove', which shows a secret dolphin-killing field in Japan, is a favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Dubuque-native Louis Psihoyos who directed and starred in the film discusses the project. Also, photojournalist and author Chip Duncan, a native of Shenendoah, discusses his new book 'Enough to Go Around: Searching for Hope in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Dafur'.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon February 15, 2010

Iowa Judicial System

Iowa’s Judicial branch faces a budget crunch and increasing demand for judicial services. How is Iowa’s court system handling tough economic times? What have furloughs meant for those seeking access to Iowa’s courts? Host Jeneane Beck talks with Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus and Jane Lorentzen, President of the Iowa State Bar Association.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu February 11, 2010

Studies reveal intricacies of human relationships and remembering Robert Dana

A conversation with University of Iowa Professors Tony Paik and Erika Lawrence. Paik's study found that married couples are less likely to experience jealous feelings, but when they do, it's more damaging to the relationship. Later in the hour, in memory of Iowa's former Poet Laureate, we listen back to an interview with Robert Dana.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed February 10, 2010

Title IX

A discussion about Title IX, a nearly forty year old law that opened the door for women in high school and college sports. We speak with Donna Lopiano, the former C.E.O. of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a pioneer and champion of Title IX. Then, a conversation with Calli Sanders, Senior Associate Athletics Director at Iowa State University, and Craig Ihnen, Associate Director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union about the status of Title IX in Iowa.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue February 9, 2010

Folk Artist Vance Gilbert and Jazz musician Ray Blue

Folk artist Vance Gilbert’s songs and stage banter often touch on the fact that he's a black man in a field of music dominated by both white performers and audiences. To mark black history month, we talk with Gilbert about his latest CD and about his upcoming show in eastern Iowa. Jazz musician Ray Blue talks about his own music and the role music plays in black history.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon February 8, 2010

Flood mitigation legislation moves through legislature

A flood plain management bill will set rules for land use within the 500-year flood plain. The bill is aimed at preventing future flooding and losses. But, some communities may no longer get funding to help build/maintain levees, or would be required to raise houses and businesses to certain elevations within the flood plain. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of the recommendations contained within the bill.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Fri February 5, 2010

Electronic Crime Institute and Emmy-nominated Screenwriter on racial and ethnic stereotyping in

Ben Kieffer talks with members of the Des Moines Area Community College Electronic Crime Institute. The institute looks at the sophisticated techniques used to steal identities and personal information. Then a conversation with screenwriter and documentarian Matt Sienkiewicz, who has spoken and written on issues of racial and ethnic stereotyping in the long-running Comedy Central Cartoon "South Park". Sienkiewicz visits the University of Northern Iowa campus next week.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu February 4, 2010

Second City 50th Anniversary

From Mike Myers to Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert to Tina Fey The Second City imprint is felt across every entertainment medium. The legendary comedy troupe returns to Iowa, looking back at 50 years of classic sketch comedy. We'll talk with members of the comdey troupe. Later in the hour, we look back at the legendary comics who graced the famous Chicago Theater with Mike Thomas, author of 'Second City Unscripted'.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed February 3, 2010

Iowans Return from Haiti & Public Health Director Retires after 36 Years

University of Iowa Emergency Medicine Dr. Chris Buresh and Cedar Rapids Red Cross volunteer Peter Teahen have just returned to Iowa after a trip to Haiti where both provided medical relief to earthquake victims. Later in the hour, a conversation with Black Hawk County Public Health director Tom O'Rourke who reflects upon his 36 years in the public health sector.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue February 2, 2010

Mountain Lions

A mountain lion shot near Marengo by a deer hunter in December marked the first confirmed sighting of the big cat in Iowa in more than five years. Among the guests- DNR Research Biologist Ron Andrews who discusses the history of the big cats in Iowa and whether they should be a designated wildlife species in the state.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon February 1, 2010

Mental Health Services

A discussion of Mental Health services in Iowa. During the first half of the program we’ll debate legislation that would mandate broader insurance coverage for mental illness including drug or alcohol addiction. Later, Department of Human Services Director Charlie Krogmeier discusses closing one of the state’s four mental health institutes.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Fri January 29, 2010

Red Light Cameras and Iowa State experts discuss the egg industry

Should we use technology to catch people running red lights and reduce accidents? Cedar Rapids is the latest city to install red light cameras at intersections. Other cities are thinking about installing them while some states are voting to ban them altogether. We debate the pros and cons of red light cameras with representatives from law enforcement, the insurance industry and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. Then, a look at the evolution of the egg industry with two Iowa State University professors featured on the History Channel Modern Marvels program.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu January 28, 2010

Radon in Iowa

January is Radon Action Month in Iowa. We'll talk with Rick Welke from the Iowa Department of Public Health's Radon program about why the colorless, odorless gas is such a problem in Iowa.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

The history of the ACT and standardized testing

Dick Ferguson, CEO and Chairman of ACT will talk about the history of the test, which is the subject of a new exhibit at the State Historical Museum, and how the test has evolved over time. Then, College Admissions officials from Iowa State University will discuss how the ACT and other tests are used for college admissions.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue January 26, 2010

Native American sports nicknames and Coach Ben Jacobson

Are team names like the Redskins racially offensive? Anthropologist Christina Gish Berndt of Iowa State University says the use of indian imagery goes back to pre-Revolutionary War times when Americans wanted to set themselves apart from Europeans. Then, UNI men's basketball Coach Ben Jacobson talks about the secret to the success of mid-major conferences. The Panthers won an automatic birth to the NCAA tournament last year, and this year boasted one of the longest winning streaks in college basketball.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon January 25, 2010

Tax Credit Debate

In 2007, the state awarded more than 400 million dollars in tax credits. In these lean economic times, are tax credits a necessary stimulus or a drain on state resources better spent on schools and kids? Among the guests- Peter Fischer of the Iowa Policy Project, Chris Nelson of Kemin Industries in Des Moines and State Senator Herman Quirmbach.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Fri January 22, 2010

Reverend James Lawson and Northern Iowa Negro Spiritual

The Reverend James Lawson spent 14 months in prison after declaring himself a conscious objector and refusing to report for the draft in 1951. He later went to India to study the principles of nonviolent resistance from Ghandi. He met Martin Luther King Jr. and worked with him until King's death. Lawson is in Iowa City this week to discuss King and the human rights movement. Then a conversation with Celeste Bembry of the University of Northern Iowa's College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Bembery discusses UNI's School of Music concert focusing on the negro spiritual genre.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu January 21, 2010

Iowa Community College Report and Teacher of the Year candidate

Members of the state Board of Education have received an update on the condition of community colleges. Enrollment numbers have continued to spike and the 15 state institutions are struggling to deal with budget cuts and one-time federal stimulus funds at a time when more displaced workers are seeking new employment skills. We discuss the report with Steve Ovel of Kirkwood Community College. Later in the hour, a conversation with Johnston High School teacher Sarah Brown Wessling, a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year award.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed January 20, 2010

Copyright Criminals

The practice of remixing existing bits and pieces of sound to create new music is a central component of hip-hop and other musical forms. But, recycling someone else’s music without permission is also copyright Infringement. Ben Kieffer talks with U of I Associate professor Kembrew McLeod and UI alum Benjamin Franzen about their documentary film "Copyright Criminals" which examines this ongoing debate.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue January 19, 2010

Chimpanzees

ISU Associate Professor of Anthropology, Jill Pruetz and Dr. Ben Beck, Conservation Director of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa discuss chimp research and findings.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon January 18, 2010

Government Reorganization with Governor Chet Culver

Jeneane Beck talks about Governor Culver's push for government reorganization. Guests in the first half of the program include State Representative Mary Mascher and State Senator Randy Feenstra. Then, Governor Culver discusses reorganizaion and other legislative priorities.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Fri January 15, 2010

Haiti update and American Psyche Spreading Overseas

Ben Kieffer talks with U of I Emergency Room Dr. Christopher Buresh. Dr. Buresh recently returned from Haiti, and is now collecting relief supplies to take on a return trip. Then, author Ethan Watters talks about his book, "Crazy Like Us," in which he contends the U.S. is changing the sypmptoms and prevalence of mental illness around the world.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu January 14, 2010

Children's Issues

We talk with panelists at an upcoming Drake University Conference focusing on children's issues, including childhood obesity and growing up during wartime.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed January 13, 2010

Bob Dorr Reflections

Legendary IPR Bluesman Bob Dorr reflects on his career at IPR as he prepares for a his "kind-of" retirement.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue January 12, 2010

Condition of State Reaction

IPR's Ben Kieffer talks with representatives from Iowans for Tax Relief, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and others for reaction to Governor Culver's Condition of the State speech.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Mon January 11, 2010

Session Preview

IPR's Jeneane Beck talks with legislative leaders about what to expect from the upcoming session.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Fri January 8, 2010

Voices of Multiple Sclerosis

Ben Kieffer talks with individuals who have offered their compelling stories in the new book, 'Voices of Multiple Sclerosis'. The book offers candid, heartfelt, and inspiring testimonials of 40 diverse individuals who have been affected by the crippling disease. Among the guests is Dr. Terry Wahls of Iowa City, who overcame secondary progressive MS through intensive nutrition and exercise coupled with electrical stimulation.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Thu January 7, 2010

Immigration Reform

Ben Kieffer talks with veteran filmmaker Nicholas Stein who is the series producer for National Geographic Channel's 'Border Wars.' During the filming, Stein was embedded with operational teams monitoring ports of entry for illegal aliens into the U.S. Later in the hour we examine the prospects for immigration reform with Mark Grey of the Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration and Tom Rendon of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Wed January 6, 2010

Veterans Writing Program

Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Wesleyan English professor Emma Rainey and University of Iowa veterans advisor John Mikelson about a new workshop for veterans to express their feelings through writing. Rainey views the workshop as a way to help veterans learn how to tell their stories in compelling and creative ways.

Read more
River to River
1:00 pm
Tue January 5, 2010

Child Welfare Changes

Ben Kieffer talks with Child and Family Services administrator Mary Nelson who is retiring after 35 years in one of government’s most demanding jobs. Nelson discusses the enormous changes in child welfare over the the past 35 years and how Iowa is doing in reducing child abuse and neglect.

Read more

Pages