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

Java Blend
4:02 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Danika Holmes on Java Blend June 8, 2012

Danika Holmes is a rising star in the heartland!” says Bill Sullivan of The Rock and Roll Report. American Picker Mike Wolfe of The History Channel says, “She’s a true American talent… I couldn’t stop listening!” Music critics agree that Danika is charming and energetic with a welcoming tone in her voice which is as gentle as a breeze.

Read more
Java Blend
4:00 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Bright * Giant on Java Blend June 1, 2012

The music of Iowa’s own BRIGHT * GIANT is the soundtrack to an as-yet unconceived documentary of every individual’s struggle between humanity and lesser desire, as seen through the disturbed eyes of one Josh Davis and interpreted by a brotherhood of the strangest souls in the American Midwest: Will Locker (drums), Noah Mass (guitar) and Justin Goes (bass).

Java Blend
3:58 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Dave Olson on Java Blend May 25, 2012

Dave Olson is a Twin Cities-based singer-songwriter with a John Prine disposition, a heartfelt delivery, and a knack for catchy melodies. In his seasoned voice, Olson sings about old friendships, restless hearts, lost loves, and ordinary people trying to find meaning. He started writing and performing in Iowa, where he released #80 in 2001. His latest album, No October, was released in 2012.

Java Blend
3:57 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Milk & Eggs on Java Blend May 18, 2012

Born on the bluffs of the Mississippi in Burlington, Iowa, visual artist Jordan Sellergren began actively songwriting in 2009 while living and working in Auckland, New Zealand. After returning to Iowa in the spring of 2010, she started playing her songs under the name Milk & Eggs.

Java Blend
3:56 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Briar Rabbit on Java Blend May 11, 2012

While new to Chicago, Phillip-Michael Scales is no stranger to the Midwest nor to packing up a van and playing original music to a crowd. He is the man-behind-the-curtain of Briar Rabbit. Raised in a suburb of Detroit, Scales began playing music at a young age. By high school he was self-releasing records, fronting bands, and went on to formally study music at college in Boston.

Read more
Java Blend
3:54 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

The Pines on Java Blend May 4, 2012

Rising out of the prairies of the Midwest, The Pines are one of the most distinct and powerful indie-rock/Americana groups to hit the national scene in years.

River to River
2:18 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Boy Scouts Of America's Delayed Ruling & Fear And The Human Brain

USAG-Humphreys / flickr

Last week Zach Wahls was on River to River, praising the Boy Scouts' consideration of a policy that would allow gay scouts and scout leaders to join the organization....a decision that has since been delayed by the organization. Continuing our coverage of this issue, Patriots for Christ president, Craig Bergman, sits down with host Ben Kieffer to provide opposition to Wahls' argument.

Read more
Java Blend
4:44 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Christopher the Conquered on Java Blend April 27, 2012

Christopher the Conquered has always been the primary outlet for the musical explorations of Iowa songwriter Chris Ford, but The Fate Of A Good Man marks an important moment in the evolution of the project, as it is the first album to feature a full band, with Ford staying firmly seated at The Piano. He’s backed strongly by The Black Gold Brass Band, which is featured heavily on the album, with songs arranged to rise and fall with the energy of the five-piece horn section.

Read more
Java Blend
4:43 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Martha Berner on Java Blend April 20, 2012

Ever since the release of her 2005 Machine Records full-length debut ...this side of yesterday indie-folk singer/songwriter Martha Berner has created quite a buzz in the music world. Not only did that release and her 2007 follow-up EP Ten Tiny Little Pieces garner a wealth of press accolades both nationally and abroad, including features in high-profile publications, such as Magnet, Performing Songwriter, Chicago Tribune, Hear/Say, and Out Magazine, but it also opened the door for worldwide radio play.

Java Blend
4:42 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Janiva Magness on Java Blend April 13, 2012

Los Angeles based Janiva Magness is one of today’s most talented and recognized blues and roots vocalists. A two-decade darling of the blues genre, Janiva’s vocal prowess is now being recognized by music critics at large.

Billboard writes “Magness carves out a niche by singing the blues with maturity and sophistication.”

Although her vocals are at times beautiful, this 49 year-old grandmother is best known for her sauciness and the bold, brazen beauty of her recordings and performances.

Java Blend
4:41 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Pat Hazell encore on Java Blend April 6, 2012

Patrick Hazell is "a legend in Iowa Music," according to The Des Moines Register and is referred to by many as the "Godfather of Iowa Blues.” Hazell began his professional career in 1961, and eventually created a wide repertoire of original compositions and rhythm and blues standards with over 35 recorded albums while touring extensively in the American Midwest, Europe, Russia, and South America. In 2000, he was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame as well as the Iowa Music Association Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Java Blend
4:38 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Daphne Willis encore on Java Blend March 30, 2012

In a very short time, Chicago-based singer/songwriter Daphne Willis has grown from a feisty neophyte into a self-assured, marvelously expressive artist with a bracingly seductive sound. The 22-year-old’s Vanguard debut album, What to Say documents Willis’ voyage of self-discovery, while also standing as a captivating introduction to a remarkably fresh voice with a distinctive point of view—one that both reflects and scrutinizes the social patterns of her generation.

Java Blend
4:36 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

FireSale on Java Blend March 23, 2012

FireSale is an original act out of Davenport, Iowa that mixes Reggae/Dub/Ska/Rock and many other personel influences into their own signature sound. They have been together since 2007 and have made many showings in the QCA playing events and venues such as River Roots Live, Riversance Art Festival, The Redstone Room, The Mill, Palmer College Homecoming, The IMU, and River Fest.

Java Blend
4:35 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Noah Earle encore on Java Blend March 16, 2012

Born in Topeka, Kansas, and surrounded by a musical family, Noah Earle absorbed various strains of influence. His musical involvement began in early childhood when he would listen to the traditional country and country-gospel music that his family would play and sing at their gatherings. Between the ages of about 5 and 18 he underwent classical training for piano, voice and fiddle (his grandpa said "never let anybody call it a violin").  By the age of 10, he had decided that he wanted to write songs, like his uncle and grandfather.

Read more
Java Blend
4:34 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Cornmeal on Java Blend March 9, 2012

Formed over 10 years ago, Cornmeal has grown from humble beginnings into a nationally recognized live music institution. 10 years together is no simple task these days, especially when the last five have seen the band spending over half the year on the road. Heavily influenced by American roots and folk music, Cornmeal blends lightning fast tempos and impeccable harmonies into an unrivaled live performance that continues to expand upon the five-piece acoustic-electric groups’ vast musical repertoire.

Java Blend
4:31 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Jenny Owen Youngs on Java Blend March 2, 2012

Jenny Owen Youngs is where the sweeping, cinematic pop of Regina Spektor, and the irreverently comical lyrics of Liz Phair meet. Born in 1981, Youngs was brought up in a quiet New Jersey suburb. Taking up the guitar at the age of 14, she later attended the State University of New York to study music. (The SUNY system produced other notable contemporaries of Youngs, like Regina Spektor, Langhorne Slim, and Dan Deacon.) Her next full-length release, "An Unwavering Band of Light," is due out on February 7, 2012.

Java Blend on IPR Studio One

Every week Iowa Public Radio's "Java Blend" with Ben Kieffer serves up fresh-brewed performances and conversation with musicians from around the state and around the country. Recorded before a live audience at The Java House in downtown Iowa City, the one-hour show offers an eclectic mix of live tunes from the vibrant independent music scene. Ben Kieffer infuses the performances with lively chats to find out about the artists' music and lives.

River to River
2:09 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

The End of the World

Emily Lakdawalla, Planetary Society Blogger / flickr

How will the world end and what can we do to prevent it? "River to River" talks with Paul Wapner, an expert in global environmental politics about the human suffering extreme climate change continues to cause.

Also University of Iowa astrophysicist Steve Spangler joins us to discuss the asteroid that will be whizzing by Earth—at a distance a bit too close for comfort—on Friday.  We’ll ask Spangler about the possibility of a massive asteroid destroying our planet in the near future.

Read more
River to River
1:24 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Politics Day: State of the Union

DonkeyHotey / flickr

President Obama laid out a vision for the country in his State of the Union address last night.  River to River analyzes that vision and the political obstacles in the president's way.  Donna Hoffman from the University of Northern Iowa and Steffen Schmidt from Iowa State University join the conversation.

Read more
River to River
1:50 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Cultural and Educational Pushes in the Middle East

World Bank Photo Collection / flickr

Two years after the Arab Spring, those living in the Middle East are still striving towards democratic governance. Our guest this hour tells us why education and cultural understanding are key to this development.

Read more
River to River
2:49 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Being a Caregiver in Iowa

Lisa Davis with the resident cat at Trinity Center.
Credit IPR

All this week, IPR’s Rob Dillard has been exploring what it means to be a caregiver in Iowa.

We wrap up the series by having a discussion with a number of caregivers in our state about the challenges of care giving and their hopes for the future.

Read more
River to River
5:22 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Franco-German Relations & Neanderthals

French ambassador for the United States, François Delattre
François Delattre / Official website

50 years ago the French and Germans signed the Élysée Treaty, which  ended centuries of hostile rivalry between the two nations, ushering in a new era of cooperation and friendship. Host Ben Kieffer discuss Franco-German relations in the 21st Century with French Ambassador to the United States François M. Delattre and German Ambassador to the United States Peter Ammon.

Read more
River to River
1:05 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Politics Day: Drones & International Politics

US military drone plane in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
Chris Devers / Flickr

Legal experts have expressed grave reservations about an Obama administration memo concluding that the United States can order the killing of American citizens believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.On today's River to River we’ll talk about the drone controversy and other international political issues with analysts Jim McCormick of Iowa State University and David Skidmore of Drake University.

Read more
River to River
12:14 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Zach Wahls on the Boy Scouts of America

Zach Wahls in his BSA uniform, speaking to reporters.
Zach Wahls / Facebook

Just last year BSA reaffirmed its policy that gay members and gay or lesbian leaders are prohibited from participation. However, now the BSA is considering revising that policy so that each local chapter can individually decide its policy on gay membership. Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, who is one of the national leaders encouraging the Boy Scouts to be more inclusive.

Read more
River to River
12:40 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Monetary Fraud & Science Books

Author Margaret Wertheim
Margaret Wertheim

Last July the president of Peregrine Financial Group, Russell Wasendorf Sr., admitted to stealing millions of dollars from his firm. On the first half of today's River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the Wasendorf case and discovers the personal, financial, and societal impact of this type of monetary fraud.

Read more
River to River
1:09 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Modern Extinct Animals

Giant sloth at the Museum of Natural History, University of Iowa
Susan Groppi / Flickr

We know great herds of bison once roamed Iowa. But did you know much farther back in time there were wholly mammoths, mastodons, and even giant sloths? Host Ben Kieffer talks with ISU's Bill Clark, who'll tell us about animals that disappeared from our state with the arrival of European settlers and how some species of bears, bobcats, and cougars are coming back.

Read more
River to River
1:05 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Politics Day: Iowa's Open Senate Seat

Iowa state capitol
Tony Fischer / Flickr

The last time politicians had an open race for a Senate seat in Iowa, Paul McCartney & Wings were topping the charts with "Band on the Run" in 1974. On today's River to River we talk about the likely contenders for retiring Senator Tom Harkin's seat.

Read more
River to River
1:14 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Adaptations of Iowa's Republicans: Grassley and King

Senator Chuck Grassley
Senator Chuck Grassley Official Website

Newly re-elected chair of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus says his party will have to adapt to “an era of permanent politics.” Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Senator Charles Grassley and Congressman Steve King of Iowa’s 4th District.We ask about their stance on the Senate's bipartisan immigration reform as well as their goals as Republicans and as our elected representatives, at the start of President Obama's second presidential term. 

Read more
River to River
1:41 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Major Supreme Court Cases for 2013

Katie Harbath Flickr

Recently, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke in court for the first time in almost seven years.

Ben Kieffers talks with  Todd Pettys and Song Richardson, two faculty members from the University Of Iowa College of Law. They discuss key cases before nation’s highest court this year including the constitutionality of California’s Prop 8, which bans same-sex marriage, and DOMA, The Defense of Marriage Act.

Read more
River to River
11:46 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Sense of Adventure: Sailing on the Pacific

Grant and Denise Stejskal
Grant and Denise Stejskal

This week Hy-Vee's retired chairman and CEO, Ric Jurgens, was honored by the Food Marketing Institute. On the first half of this River to River show, host Ben Kieffer listens back to his 2012 interview with Jurgens about the evolution of food shopping.

Read more

Pages