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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Live Music Events
8:33 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: The Ericksons 10/11

Join us for the dark folky sounds of The Ericksons this weekend at The Java House
Credit The Ericksons

On Friday, Oct. 11,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with The Ericksons.

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Live Music Events
12:00 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Susan Werner 10/4

Join us at The Java House for another fresh brewed edition of Java Blend featuring critically acclaimed artist Susan Werner.
Credit Susan Werner

On Friday, October 4,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Susan Werner.

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Live Music Events
3:06 pm
Sun July 21, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Special Event: Love Over Gold 10/1

Follow the soothing sounds of Love Over Gold to Des Moines for a special concert with the international band!
Credit Love Over Gold

On Tuesday, October 1 ,  at 7:30 PM at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special edition of "Java Blend" with Pieta Brown and Lucie Thorne from Love Over Gold.

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Live Music Events
12:00 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Chad Elliott 9/27

For inspired, poetic music come hear treasured Iowa songwriter Chad Elliot at the Java House.
Credit D'Vine Entertainment

On Friday, September 27,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Chad Elliott.

 

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River to River
2:30 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

5000th Point of Light

Photo submitted by outreachprogram.org

Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton of Union Iowa were recently recognized for their work fighting global hunger.  Their work involves getting packaged meals to hungry children in Africa and many other places.  Floyd and Kathy talk with host Ben Kieffer about their work and what is ahead for them.

In the second half of the show, hear from Iowa author John Price about his new memoir "Daddy Long Legs."

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River to River
4:04 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Invasive Species: Air and Water

Emerald Ash Borer in firewood
U.S. Forestry Service Region 5

The Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Iowa.  It has now been found in Burlington.  Hear how the insect spreads and what is being done about it.  New rules are in effect for boaters on Iowa's waterways aimed at preventing the spread of invasive plants and animals.

Also, in the second half of the program, we talk about a Cuban baseball player that defected to the U.S. while in Des Moines.  And we wrap up the hour with a discussion about the weather and how Iowa's crops are reacting.

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River to River
11:35 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Filibuster Deal and Stand Your Ground

Jimmy Stewart in the iconic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"

The U.S. Senate reached a deal to avoid the so-called "nuclear option," which would've changed Senate rules and prohibited filibuster on nominees.  The new deal will allow nominations to face an up or down vote.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Tim Hagle of University of Iowa about the deal and what it means.  They also discuss calls to repeal "stand your ground" laws in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal.

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River to River
1:09 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Growing Old and Dying in Prison

Iowa Medical and Classification Center at the Oakdale Prison near Coralville.
Ben Stanton

Our corrections series continues by examining what it is like to grow old and die in prison. Hear from an offender who works in a hospice program. He has helped 20 fellow inmates face the end of life behind bars.  Host Ben Kieffer also talk with a 74-year-old inmate about growing old.  You'll also get a tour of a hospice room at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.  

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River to River
2:21 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Getting Your Foot In The Door

The 2011 Intern Closing Ceremony at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Wednesday, August 3, 2011.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Bill Hrybyk Flickr

The national unemployment rate is 7.6% and in Iowa the rate is at 4.6 %. Recent college graduates and seasoned workers alike are working hard to make a living wage. Host Ben Kieffer looks at how Iowans are getting their foot in the door via internships and working as temporary employees. 

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River to River
3:41 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

News Review: Health, Ag, Sports, and Entertainment

From infectious disease to sports and entertainment, River to River host Ben Kieffer has a news roundup show.  He'll talk with the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health about recent outbreaks of cyclospora and West Nile virus. Also, hear a little sports: Iowa’s  Zach Johnson is competing as the defending champion at the John Deere Classic Golf Tournament in the Quad Cities, and many Iowans reacted to University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz being listed as one of the worst coaches by Sports Illustrated recently.

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River to River
4:13 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

County Partisanship and Other Politics

Iowa's county partisanship mapped out
Credit Chris Larimer, UNI / http://diymaps.net/ia.htm

Think you know which of Iowa's counties is most democratic, or most republican?  University of Northern Iowa Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Larimer crunched the numbers. 

http://addins.kwwl.com/blogs/decision2012/2013/06/exploring-county-level-partisanship

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River to River
1:33 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Horse Slaughter in Iowa

StooMathiesen

A business in Sigourney Iowa could be one of the first the nation to slaughter horses after a previous ban was allowed to expire.  Join Host Ben Kieffer to hear from the CEO of the company given approval by the USDA, and hear from two people with opposing views on the matter.  Also hear a little about the politics of this issue and the horse-meat labeling scandal that came to light earlier this year in Europe.

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River to River
4:13 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Iowa's Mandatory Minimum Sentencing & Special Courts

Scott* / flickr

We continue our series on corrections in Iowa by talking about mandatory minimum sentences. What is the goal of mandatory sentences and how effective are they? What are their legal, social and economic impacts?

In the second half hour, host Ben Kieffer takes a look at Iowa’s special courts – drug courts and mental health courts, for example. We find out how they work differently than conventional courts, the case for how special courts save lives and money, and why several drug courts in the state have closed.

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River to River
3:36 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Sleep and Noise

flickr / RelaxingMusic

Do you have a sound or noise that helps you fall asleep? It turns out that sound plays a big role in brain activity and brain wave synchronization even while you're sleeping. Join host Ben Kieffer to explore the role of noise in good and bad sleep. The guest is  Neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorders Center.  Our sleep doctor will also answer your questions.  

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River to River
4:02 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Politics Day: Egypt and the Middle East

The Egyptian flag in Cairo in 2011
Zeinab Mohamed

Massive protests once again in Egypt. Join host Ben Kieffer to talk about the political situation there with Iowa State University's Jim McCormick and long-time Iowa resident Dr. Hani Elkadi, a native of Egypt, who’s just returned from Cairo.  Also, hear about the larger implications of this event for the Middle East.

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River to River
12:37 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

2012-2013 U.S. Supreme Court Term Wrap-up

On Thursday, June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Defense of Marriage Act--also known as DOM--is unconstitutional as it violates the Fifth Amendment which protects against the deprivation of the equal liberty of persons.
DonTaylor50 Flickr

The U.S.

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River to River
3:29 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Commutation, Skylark and the Innocence Project of Iowa

A view from inside the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville.
Credit Emily Woodbury / IPR

In the summer of 1974, Rasberry Williams shot and killed a Waterloo man over a $30 gambling debt.  In April, Governor Terry Branstad granted Williams’ request for commutation, making him eligible for parole.  We continue our corrections series by talking about when a life sentence should be reconsidered.  Then, we learn about Skylark, which works with victims of domestic violence on commutation requests, and the Innocence Project of Iowa, which is about to file its first case.

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River to River
4:20 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

World Food Prize and Capitalism on Trial

The winners of this year's World Food Prize have ties to the biotech firms Monsanto and Syngenta.
World Food Prize Foundation

Capitalism – Does it work for you? That’s the question on a 20-ft-long sign with flashing lights that’s come to Cedar Rapids. Viewers vote by pressing true or false.  Steve Lambert, the artist behind the project Steve Lambert explains his inspiration and  share some of the responses he gathered.

Also, we’ll talk about the three biotechnology scientists awarded the 2013 World Food Prize.

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River to River
12:18 am
Fri June 21, 2013

Fascination with the Idea of "Apocalypse"

Des Moines' Fourth Annual "Zombie Walk"
Emily Woodbury

Many of this summer’s blockbusters are set in a post-apocalyptic world, including “This is the end”, “World War Z”, “After Earth”, and “Elysium”.

Today on River To River, we take a look at why this is such a common theme this year. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowans who are prepared to face an apocalyptic scenario, and he sits down with an Iowa Homeland Security rep, to find out how prepared the state of Iowa is for disaster.

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River to River
3:38 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Politics Day

davnull Flickr

About half of Americans say the leak of classified information dealing with NSA surveillance serves the public interest.  Slightly more say that whistleblower  Edward Snowden should face prosecution. Host Ben Kieffer examines this split in public opinion and the claims that this surveillance has foiled dozens of terrorist plots.  Also analysis of the G-8 summit and the implications of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on voting rights.

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Live Music Events
2:18 pm
Wed June 19, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Briar Rabbit 9/20

Join us for original thought-pop by Briar Rabbit at The Java House.
Credit The American Songwriter

  On Friday, Sept. 20,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Briar Rabbit.

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River to River
3:46 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Safety on the Water

Water rescue training
Peter Roome

Last week a man was killed in a boating incident on the Cedar River, and over the weekend a man had a close call while trying to rescue a child on Clear Lake.  What are the rules and what are the good and bad ideas on the water?  Also, hear about preventing recreational water illnesses.

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River to River
3:45 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Miss Iowa and Iowans with Disabilities

Nicole Kelly, Miss Iowa 2013
Jenn Cady Design Photography

The 2013 winner of the Miss Iowa Scholarship Program is Nicole Kelly.  Besides attention from Iowans, national news outlets have been interested in her story in part because of a unique attribute: Kelly was born without her left forearm.  Hear Kelly's story and a broader discussion about Iowans with disabilities with the chair of the Iowa Commission of Persons with Disabilities LaSheila Yates, who also happens to be the 2013 Mrs. Iowa International winner.

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Live Music Events
12:21 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Fire Sale 9/13

You can't help but groove your way into The Java House when you hear the reggae sounds of Fire Sale.
Credit Tony C

  On Friday, September 13,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with FireSale.

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River to River
4:27 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

Iowa's New Sister-State, Kosovo

Sergeant Major David Enright (left) and Major Mike Wunn (right)
John Pemble / IPR

Governor Branstad just announced Iowa’s ninth sister-state relationship with Kosovo, a state Iowa has maintained a unique partnership with over the years. Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa national-guard members who have spent time in the region. He also explores Iowa's other sister city relations, from the Hebei province in China to Yucatan, Mexico.

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Live Music Events
1:23 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Dessa 9/6

Credit Bill Phelps

On Friday, September 6,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Dessa.

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Live Music Events
12:28 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: The Parish Festival 8/30

Join us for a special event featuring gypsy jazz artists The Parish Festival.
Credit The Parish Festival

On Friday, August 30,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with The Parish Festival.

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Live Music Events
2:06 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Raldo Schneider & Friends 8/23

Join us for the first show of the season with artist Raldo Schneider & Friends

On Friday, August 23,  at 2 PM at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Raldo Schneider.

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Java Blend
6:03 pm
Fri June 14, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: The Beggarmen 6/15/13

Tune in tomorrow afternoon for the soul-warming classical sounds of The Beggarmen.
Credit www.beggarmen.com

Tomorrow, May 17th at 2 PM IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with The Beggarmen.

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River to River
2:46 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Balancing Animal Welfare And Medical Advances

patries71 /flickr

Approximately a thousand chimpanzees are held in U.S. laboratories for experiments. This week the federal government announced a proposal to list captive chimpanzees as endangered, a move that would increase protections for them.  Today on River To River - two opposing views over whether this is a good idea and how it might affect advances in the field of medicine.

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