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
1:41 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

When Severe Weather Strikes

Empty lot in Joplin, where house once stood.
Liam Kieffer

In May of 2011, Joplin Missouri was hit by the deadliest single tornado since record keeping began in 1950.  After that disaster, the National Weather Service evaluated their warning system and public response to it.  That led to a more specific warning system that went into effect in Iowa on April 1.  Today we hear from two Iowa National Weather Service meteorologists about the new “impact-based” warning system. We also listen back to our conversation last year with storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski and his firsthand account of the Joplin tornado.

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Live Music Events
11:51 am
Mon April 1, 2013

"Java Blend" LIVE Event: Brother Trucker at El Bait Shop on 4/3/13

Credit brotrucker.com

Host Ben Kieffer will hold a special "Java Blend" On The Road event with Brother Trucker at El Bait Shop in Des Moines this Wednesday, April 3!

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River to River
2:43 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

American Winter

TJ, one of the parents whose story is featured in "American Winter," praying with his little boy
Credit http://www.americanwinterfilm.com/

Though the Great Recession ended in 2009, families that were once considered middle-class still struggle to get by.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with filmmaker and University of Iowa graduate Devon Terrill about her new documentary “An American Winter,” which profiles eight families who fell out of the middle class during the Great Recession.  IPR's Sandhya Dirks tells us about the push to get an Iowa inmate's sentence commuted.  And is your NCAA pool legal?  Geoff Greenwood from the Iowa Attorney General's Office outlines the regulations governing social gambling.

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River to River
1:28 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

The Supreme Court of Iowa

John Pemble

As our nation's Supreme Court considers two major cases concerning same-sex marriage this week, the Iowa Supreme Court is also grappling with major issues that will affect how Iowans live, love and work.  Today on "River to River" we'll talk about four high-profile cases this session before Iowa's Supreme Court with University of Iowa Law School professors Song Richardson and Todd Pettys as well as legal blogger and litigator Ryan Koopmans.

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River to River
3:46 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Politics Day: The Genetics of Politics

wikimedia.org

Political arguments can easily become heated and emotional.  But what if your political rival has a genetic predisposition to view the world differently than you?  On River to River, can politics be explained through biology?  We hear two perspectives in that academic debate.  We also talk with the chairs of the Iowa GOP and the Iowa Democrats about how they came to their beliefs.

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Java Blend
3:31 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Tiff Jimber on Java Blend Saturday, March 30, 2013

This is not your average piano girl. Singer-songwriter Tiff Jimber holds nothing back when she plays, smashing out rhythms and dancing on her toes. Consistently compared to Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds, this lady showcases her diverse jazz and classical training in catchy pop songs conjured up by her influences, Billy Joel, John Mayer, Nina Simone, and Adele.

River to River
1:27 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

National Security Analyst Brian Katulis on the Middle East

Flickr / The U.S. Army

More than 60,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan. What hurdles does the US face as that international military operation winds down? Today on "River to River" National Security Analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress will talk about US withdraw from Afghanistan.  He'll also comment on the status of Iraq, ten years after the start of the Iraq War.

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Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 23, 2013

Rebecca Rego on Java Blend Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seconds marks the fourth studio record for Rebecca Rego since 2006. Derek Beres of "Mindful Metropolis" says "There is no doubt that Rebecca Rego is a poetess, given the strength of these ten fine songs. The focus is certainly her voice, by way of her lyrical nature, itself in no way ambiguous."

River to River
12:24 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

The Growing Iowa Beer Industry

geekgirl24 / flickr

Nearly one new brewery opens every day in the United States and a new Gallup poll shows Americans prefer beer over wine, with craft beer enjoying a double-digit growth in popularity. In an encore presentation of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the growth of Iowa breweries and their impact on the state’s economy with several members of the Iowa brew industry. 

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River to River
3:10 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Combat veterans helped by service dogs

Nicole Shumate

Thousands of veterans have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Nightmares or flashbacks, angry outbursts, and hyper vigilance are common symptoms. In addition, many veterans also have to learn to live with physical injuries. A Des Moines-based not-for-profit called Paws & Effect is helping some Iowa veterans live better lives by training and placing psychiatric service and mobility dogs.

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Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Mutts on Java Blend Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mutts are a keyboard-centric, mercurial band often described as a unique blend of Tom Waits and Nirvana. Although keyboards drive their sound, Mutts draw comparisons to bluesy rockers likes Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys for music that is alternately danceable, psychedelic, and heavy.

They have opened for artists such as Maps & Atlases and Psychic Twin and recently performed at the Do Division Fest in Chicago. Their latest album Separation Anxiety was on the CMJ Top 200 for six consecutive weeks.

River to River
1:22 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

A.J. Jacobs On Experimenting Your Way To Perfection

Benjamin Thomas / flickr

He read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica. He outsourced his life to India. After that he lived for one year according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible. Today on River to River, a conversation with author A.J. Jacobs. We’ll find out about his year of living biblically and his latest lifestyle experiment - exploring different ways to reach peak health.

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River to River
1:46 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

College Towns

Flickr / Sarah Cady

Recently Ames was ranked as the second best college town in the US by the American Institute of Economic Research's 2013 College Destination Index.   Iowa City came in close behind at fourth place.   What goes into making a great college town?  On "River to River" we talk about the attributes and special challenges of these communities.

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River to River
1:30 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Politics Day: International Concerns

assortedstuff / flickr

As drones proliferate and become more sophisticated, what questions does this raise in the international arena? Do drones present challenges we’ve never faced before?

It's politics day here on the program, and this hour we cast our analysis to the world outside our border. We take a look at how new technology, drones and cyber attacks, are shaping international politics. Also, updates on Syria, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. Our analysts are Lindsay Cohn, of the University of Northern Iowa, and Jim McCormick, of Iowa State University.

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River to River
2:20 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Legislative Check-In: Rep. Dave Loebsack & Rep. Burce Braley

Jonathon Colman / flickr

Sequestration, immigration, drones, gun legislation…

Today on River to River, we continue our discussions with Iowa’s elected representatives in Washington. First, a conversation with Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s second district. Then, we’ll be joined by Congressman Bruce Braley of the first district.

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Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 9, 2013

The Nadas on Java Blend March 9, 2013

The Nadas have carved a thriving career out of what was once their college pastime, consistently filling clubs and colleges across the country selling more than 125,000 albums through their own Authentic Records label.

This year, the group is preparing to release a new album, to be titled Lovejoy Sessions. Originally formed some 15 years ago in Ames, Iowa, their catchy, driving tunes feature great lyrics, a solid beat, and tight vocals.

River to River
1:29 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Violent Incident Training in Iowa's Schools

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, schools are changing their intruder response procedure from a stay put and hide method, to a fight or flight response. Today on River to River, we talk with violent incident trainers and educators who are changing the way our schools and our children prepare for the worst case scenario, and how these changes are empowering teachers and students in order to keep them safe.

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River to River
3:58 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

The Sleep Doctor, Dr. Eric Dyken Talks Naptime

Flickr / Luciana Christante

Is National Napping Day on your calendar? Neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken--"The Sleep Doctor"--returns to "River to River" to talk discuss napping.  He'll also give some sleep advice as we go into daylight saving time this weekend.

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River to River
3:52 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Politics Day

Donna Hoffman, Political Science, University of Northern Iowa

The President’s approval rating fell over the weekend and his disapproval rating climbed to its highest level since November.  The tumble comes as the President and Congress failed to reach a deal preventing sequestration.  We examine the political impacts of the sequester and look ahead to the next big budget fight with Donna Hoffman from University of Northern Iowa and Wayne Moyer from Grinnell College.

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River to River
1:57 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Winter Weather & Callie Crossley On Talking Openly About Race

CR Artist / flickr

Even though Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, don’t bet old man winter is done with us just yet. Today on River to River, we talk about the winter storms we’ve had this year… and if there’s been progress towards drought recovery. Also, journalist Callie Crossley joins our conversation to talk about race relations in the U.S. and where there’s room for improvement.

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River to River
3:24 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Budget Cuts and Mandatory Infant Screening

R. Love / flickr

Today, we speak with a mother whose tragic firsthand experience led her to push for a certain type of mandatory screening for newborns. We'll also talk with a pediatric cardiologist and a state senator pushing a bill requiring the screening.

And, as the sequester deadline arrives, we touch in with various agencies across the state to find out how budget cuts may affect them.

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River to River
2:54 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Climate Change's Effect On Animal Reproduction

ninadangelo / flickr

We know that climate change is dramatically and adversely affecting habitats of many endangered species, but it is also skewing the male-to-female ratio of certain animals. Today on River to River, we talk with two Iowa State researchers who study how climate change may halt the sexual reproduction of turtles, lizards and fish due to a lack of males.

Also, we sit down with Chris Brochu, an Associate Professor of Geology at University of Iowa to discuss recent research on the death of the dinosaurs that is making waves in paleontology.

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River to River
1:13 pm
Wed February 27, 2013

Politics Day

President Obama broke the Republicans once on taxes – now he’s betting he’ll do it again on the sequester fight. Today it's Politics Day, and we look the strategies each camp is using to win over American public opinion and the possible outcomes. Also, a new Pew poll asks, which party is more out of touch? And, Michelle Obama’s charm offensive draws fire. What’s the role of the first lady anyway?

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River to River
11:31 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Searching For Life On Other Planets

A comparison of the Kepler-37 system's planets, to our moon and the planets in our solar system
NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

We now have evidence of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars – and that’s just in our little corner of the Milky Way. But are any of these planets Earth-like? Could they be …habitable?

Today on River to River, a conversation with astrophysicist Steve Kawaler of ISU.  He’s working with NASA’s Kepler Mission. We’ll talk about the mission’s amazing discoveries.

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River to River
2:50 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Team Rubicon and Regional EPA administrator Karl Brooks

Karl Brooks, the Environmental Protection Agency region 7’s administrator. Region 7 includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations. Brooks says while the EPA can track carbon emissions, it’s difficult to measure how energy conversatio
John Pemble / IPR

When Veterans return from active duty, transitioning back to civilian life is challenging. Team Rubicon puts veterans back on the front lines, responding to disaster, and renewing their sense of purpose.

Today on "River to River" we speak with the founders of Team Rubicon, Jacob Wood and William McNulty. They will be at Grinnell College next week to receive the $100,000 Grinnell Prize.

We'll also talk to Regional EPA administrator Karl Brooks. We'll ask him about the President's renewed focus on climate change in his recent State of the Union address.
 

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River to River
2:38 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

The Future of Olympic Wrestling

simononly / flickr

The International Olympic Committee voted to drop wrestling as one of the core sports form the 2020 Games.  However, wrestling still has a chance; now the sport must apply for special inclusion, competing against several other events.

"River to River" speaks with wrestlers and coaches from around the state about what Olympic exclusion means for the sport, and the state of Iowa, which has a strong wrestling tradition.

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River to River
2:26 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

The Connection Between Narcissism And Envy

tschundler / flickr

Recently cyclist Lance Armstrong, the seven-time victor of the Tour de France, was stripped of his titles when he admitted to illegal doping. Today on River to River, we talk to organizations around Iowa who are partnered with Livestrong, a cancer foundation that Lance Armstrong founded. We ask them what comes next and whether Livestrong will continue to live strong in Iowa.

In the second half, we talk with Zlatan Krizan, an assistant professor of Psychology at Iowa State University, about his new research exploring the connection between narcissism and envy.

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Java Blend
4:36 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

The Uniphonics on Java Blend Saturday, February 23, 2013

Since 2007 The Uniphonics have established themselves as one of the premier bands in Iowa and Illinois. Playing on bills with internationally touring superstars like Victor Wooten, EOTO, Primus, The Roots, Matisyahu, Members of G-Unit, Rusted Root and Parliament Funkadelic have helped build an enthusiastic fan base.

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Java Blend
4:36 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Slip Silo on Java Blend February 16, 2013

Iowa City electronic/jazz/rock quartet Slip Silo celebrated the release of its first full length album, Monsoons, on April 14th, 2012, the follow-up to the group’s 2009 self-titled EP. Formed in the summer of 2008, Slip Silo is comprised of talented, thoughtful musicians who studied jazz and who have appeared in groups such as Koplant No, OSG, Big Funk Guarantee, The Critical Hour, New Beat Society, and many more. The band combines a variety of influences to create a unique sound that listeners find delightfully difficult to classify.

Java Blend
4:35 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Bryce Janey on Java Blend February 9, 2013

Bryce Janey is an outstanding blues/rock axe slinger from Marion, Iowa. He began his career at the age of 13, touring regionally and nationally from Chicago to Los Angeles with a blues-rock trio called the Janey's. Bryce began his solo career in 1995 and has received widespread praise and accolades ever since. His newest album, "Blues in My Soul," features "soul-powered, retro-70s bluesey heavy guitar six string mojo."

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