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
3:38 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Politics Day: Upcoming Supreme Court Decisions

deltaMike / flickr

Between now and the end of June, decisions will be made on a number of cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Host Ben Kieffer gets analysis on some of the biggest cases: concerning affirmative action, voting rights, same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act. It's River to River's Politics Wednesday.  

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River to River
11:13 am
Wed May 29, 2013

The Changing Television Model

Theen Moy / flickr

This week, an entire new season of Arrested Development, a show that once aired on FOX, was released by the online subscription service, Netflix. Today on River To River, we explore the changes in the way we consume television content, and how cable companies and online subscription services are restructuring their business model for this new climate.

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Java Blend
3:23 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Java Blend Summer Broadcasts 6/15-9/7

Catch Java Blend all through summer with Java Blend Summer Encore broadcasts.

Don't fear! Java Blend is here for the summer. 

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Java Blend
6:00 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Dwelling Fruit 5/25/13

Tune in to hear a special once in a lifetime performance by Dwelling Fruit, never to be heard again.
Credit Skye Carrasco

This Saturday at 2 PM, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Iowa City's own Dwelling Fruit.

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Java Blend
6:00 am
Fri May 24, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Dwelling Fruit 5/25/13

Tune in to hear a special once in a lifetime performance by Dwelling Fruit, never to be heard again.
Credit Skye Carrasco

This Saturday at 2 PM, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Iowa City's own Dwelling Fruit.

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River to River
2:39 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

The Aftermath of an EF5 Tornado

Joplin, Missouri, a year after the 2011 tornado
Liam Kieffer

The deadly tornado earlier this week in Oklahoma recalls other recent tornado disasters in the Midwest. Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with survivors of the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri in 2011…and the twister that struck the Parkersburg/New Hartford area here in Iowa 5 years ago. Some experts join the conversation as well, to shed more light on the effect of the EF5 tornado that tore through Oklahoma.

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River to River
4:31 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Politics Day

U.S. senators of both parties are directing outrage at top IRS officials over not being informed earlier about the tax agency’s work to target conservatives, and they’re demanding answers. Today on River to River, it’s politics day. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with our analysts, Tim Hagle, of the University of Iowa, and Chris Larimer, of the University of Northern Iowa, to find out what questions are being asked, why it matters, and how much of what we’re seeing is simply political grandstanding.

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River to River
1:56 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Crime of Stalking

According to the Stalking Resource Center 6.6 million people are stalked in the U.S. every year.
Flickr / daniellehelm

Though stalking became a crime in the state of Iowa in 1994, it’s a difficult charge since in many ways stalking is an “invisible" crime.  Upon examining this crime River to River asks, "What should a person do if they're being stalked?" And also, "What drives stalkers to obsessively harass their victims?"

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River to River
1:40 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Facial Recognition Technology and Police Lineups

Mennecke says that digital signage systems can deteremine a person's age, gender and face.
Brian Mennecke, associate professor of information systems at Iowa State

Facial recognition technology is increasing becoming a part of life, but how is this technology being used and how much is too much?  Brian Mennecke will explain the ways digital advertisements can "read" your face and discuss other commercial uses for facial recognition technology.  Later Gary Wells joins the program to discuss his recently developed proc

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Java Blend
11:08 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Korby Lenker 5/18/13

Tune in to this week's broadcast to catch the sweet and sometimes sulky tunes of Korby Lenker.
Credit Iowa Public Radio/Kendall McCabe

  This Saturday at 2 PM, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Korby Lenker.

 

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Java Blend
11:08 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Korby Lenker 5/18/13

Tune in to this week's broadcast to catch the sweet and sometimes sulky tunes of Korby Lenker.
Credit Iowa Public Radio/Kendall McCabe

  This Saturday at 2 PM, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a special hour of "Java Blend" with Korby Lenker.

 

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River to River
1:53 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Wind Energy in Iowa

brewbooks / flickr

Mid-American Energy is planning to invest $1.9 billion in Iowa to add up to about one gigawatt of wind generation, which could power 300-thousand homes. That means more than 600 new wind turbines are expected to be built in Iowa by 2016.  Host Ben Kieffer gets details on the project, and he gets a broader look at wind energy in Iowa with both large- and small-scale turbines. We also talk with an ISU professor a grad student working on designing a different wind turbine tower—one made out of concrete.

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River to River
1:59 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Gun Mythology In The West

Michael Martelli / flickr

In 1982, when Bruce Holbert was a young man, he accidentally shot and killed a friend. Today on River to River, University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Bruce Holbert will recount that accidental shooting and how he coped afterward. Holbert’s new novel Lonesome Animals is a western detective story in the vein of True Grit, and he connects it to America's fascination with the gun myth.

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River to River
3:04 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Scandals Distracting from Second Term Priorities

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is under fire for a wide-ranging subpoena of phone records at the Associated Press, as part of investigating a national security leak. That, along with continuing investigations of the IRS and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, has sucked all the air out of Washington for several days. Host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Wayne Moyer from Grinnell College and Donna Hoffman from University of Northern Iowa about the scandals and how they're impacting President Obama's second-term agenda.

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River to River
3:23 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Travels and Poetry in the Middle East

Eliza_Tasbihi / flickr

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Christopher Merrill, Director of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.  Merrill has just returned from a month-long trip on behalf of the program that took him to Baghdad and the Kurdish region of Iraq, Abu Dhabi, and Turkey.  He is about to leave for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as part of a cultural diplomacy mission for the State Department.

In this show, Kieffer also gets a weather update from the Des Moines National Weather Service about temperature swings and the lack of an Iowa tornadoes for nearly a year.

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Live Music Events
4:33 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: The Beggarmen

Credit www.beggarmen.com

On Friday, May 17th 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 Beggarmen.

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Java Blend
5:12 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Dave Zollo 5/11/13

Credit Kendall McCabe

  This Saturday at 2 PM, we'll broadcast a recent performance by Dave Zollo on "Java Blend." 

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River to River
1:18 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Best and Worst Jobs of 2013

Bio-Medical Engineer is listed as #2 best job of 2013.
dbelskysuny / flickr

For 25 years, CareerCast.com has ranked the best and worst jobs.   Their rating is based on physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. Host Ben Kieffer talks with a few people that are on the best and worst lists.  Find out what people in those jobs think about their ranking.  It includes a Biomedical Engineer, an Oil Rig Worker, an Audiologist, and a Newspaper Reporter.   

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River to River
4:00 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Baseball: Past, Present, Future

TR Knight, Toby Huss, and in profile, Harrison Ford
© 2013 Legendary Pictures Productions LLC

Marshalltown-native Toby Huss, plays the part of baseball scout Clyde Sukeforth in the new movie “42” – a film about baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the Major Leagues’ first black player in the modern era. Host Ben Kieffer talks with actor Toby Huss about his role, working with Harrison Ford in the film, and racism in the 1940’s.

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River to River
3:15 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

U. S. Senator Rand Paul and other Politics

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

Recent polls indicate freshman Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a favorite among GOP hopefuls for the White House in 2016.  Paul is coming to Iowa later this week to speak at the Republican Party of Iowa's "Lincoln Dinner."  Host Ben Kieffer gets his views on immigration reform, drones, and bridging the warring factions within the GOP.  Then, he gets analysis from Bruce Gronbeck, Emeritus Professor of Communication Studies at University of Iowa.

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River to River
2:06 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Postville, Five Years Later

Flickr / zamburak

On May 12, 2008 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on Agriprocessors, a kosher meatpacking plant in Postville, IA.  The raid resulted in the deportation of over 300 individuals—the largest immigration raid in Iowa’s history.  River to River looks back on the raid to examine how its affected the community of Postville and the families who were torn apart five years ago.  Also, what can be learned from Postville that can inform understanding on comprehensive immigration reform?

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Live Music Events
4:24 pm
Sun May 5, 2013

Java Blend LIVE Event: Dwelling Fruit

Credit Skye Carrasco

 On Friday, May 10th 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 Dwelling Fruit.

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River to River
2:40 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

The Future of Medicaid in Iowa

Governor Branstad's Healthcare policy aide Michael Bousselot, Senator Pam Jochum (D-Dubuque) and IPR Statehouse Correspondent Clay Masters on "River to River" from IPR's Des Moines studios.
John Pemble IPR

All this week, IPR’s Clay Masters has been talking with Iowans who receive Medicaid services to get their input on the debate between Governor Branstad and the Democratic-controlled state Senate over expanding Medicaid.

River to River wraps up the series with host Ben Kieffer sitting down with Clay and several Medicaid recipients, as well as the Governor’s healthcare policy advisor Michael Bousselot and Democratic state senator Pam Jochum.

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Java Blend
5:00 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Tallgrass on "Java Blend" on 5/4/13

Credit Tallgrassband.com

This Saturday at 2 PM, we'll broadcast a recent performance by Tallgrass on "Java Blend." 

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River to River
2:02 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Herbert Hoover and a Civil War Exhibit

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
Ben Stanton / Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer takes a tour of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum with its Director Tom Schwartz.  He talks about the role of presidential museums and libraries in light of the recent opening of the George W. Bush Library in Dallas.  Schwartz also discusses President Hoover himself and the museum’s exhibit that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  It’s called Iowans and the Civil War: The Western Theater.  The exhibit includes a Civil War field hospital, and signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. 

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River to River
2:23 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Vinyl's Comeback & The Rise Of Music Streaming

Joe Lencioni / flickr

Today on River to River, we explore the continuing changes in the music industry...including the fact that more and more users are listening from large online libraries of music – like Rhapsody, Spotify, or Pandora – rather than purchasing individual songs or albums. We also discuss why vinyl records are making a comeback.

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River to River
1:16 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Tech Companies Choosing Iowa

A rendering of the first building of Facebook's new Altoona data center.
Facebook

This week, the social networking site Facebook announced plans to build a $1.5 billion data center in Altoona, IA.  On the same day, Google announced a $400 million expansion to its data facility in Council Bluffs. Iowa has a growing tech industry.  What makes Iowa an attractive place for companies like Google and Facebook?  Also, hear about our homegrown technology companies like INVOLTA.

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River to River
4:31 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

App Development In Iowa

Taptu / flickr

When smartphones were introduced, not many people knew how to navigate a mobile app…but several years later, we go through each day using multiple apps, often several at once. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer checks in with app developers across the state, to find out how Iowans are using applications on their devices, and what apps we can expect in the near future.

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River to River
1:34 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Impacts of Terrorism

Copley Square after the Boston Marathon bombings, April 15, 2013.
Flickr / Vjeran Pavic

Three out of four Americans see occasional terrorism as a part of life in the future. That percentage is up in the wake of last week’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.  "River to River" examines changing public attitudes toward terrorism and how the Boston bombing is affecting debate over immigration.

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River to River
2:24 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Concern Over State Trooper Numbers & Officer Safety

Iowa State Patrol Diorama
Phil's 1stPix / flickr

Since the year 2000, the amount of state troopers on Iowa’s roads has dropped more than 20 percent, delaying accident response time and forcing officers to make hard decisions based on where they are needed most. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with state troopers about their experience on the force and sits down with local police to discuss the dangers that exist for law enforcement personnel.

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