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
1:23 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Eboo Patel: Interfaith in America

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core. Patel says this prejudice is not just a problem for Muslims, but a challenge to the very idea of America. Patel also discusses his new book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America.

After 9/11, suspicion and animosity toward American Muslims spiked.

I’m BK. Next time on RTR, my guest is Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core.

River to River
1:18 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Media Violence

Call of Duty action shot
FireFish45 / Flickr

Ever wonder if consuming media violence makes someone more likely to act out violence in real life? On River to River, we’ll examine a new report by Iowa State psychology professors Craig Anderson and Douglas Gentile that says violent images such as scenes in movies, games or pictures in comic books, act as triggers for activating aggressive thoughts and feelings already stored in memory. Also, what can parents do about it?

River to River
1:14 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Politics Day: Democratic National Convention

Four years ago, the first African-American won the presidency. To win the White House in 2012, Barack Obama will once again have to make history. Only Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected with unemployment this high. Today on Politics Day, we'll recap recent political developments including the ongoing Democratic National Convention.

Health
3:24 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Epidemiologist talks antimicrobial resistance

Sheep Purple / flickr

University of Iowa clinical associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Michael Pentella, joined host Ben Kieffer on the talk show "River to River" to talk about the state of antibiotic resistance in the country. The discussion focused on tuberculosis, since ISU researchers are currently studying an extensively antibiotic resistant strain of the disease that is growing in parts of the world.

To hear the full show, visit the "River to River" page here.

River to River
1:19 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics
Carissa Byers / Flickr

In Iowa, the average amount of tuberculosis (TB) cases is 30-50 a year. In the U.S., TB affects an estimated 10 to 15 million people.

River to River
1:47 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

The Growing Iowa Beer Industry

Daniel Slaughter 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. 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. 

River to River
1:19 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Iowa Delegates & Author Michael Perry

"Visiting Tom" book cover
Michael Perry / Sneezingcow.com

On today's River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa delegates at the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida and what challenges their party now faces in the next 10 weeks before the presidential election.

Then, author Michael Perry gives a glimpse of the life of an 82-year old man in rural Wisconsin in his new book, Visiting Tom: A Man, A Highway and the Road to Roughneck Grace.

River to River
1:16 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Politics Day: GOP Convention

The next two weeks are a political junkie’s delight with back-to-back party conventions. Host Ben Kieffer talks with the experts to recap happenings in Tampa, look ahead to North Carolina, and talk about President Obama’s return trip to Iowa this week.

River to River
1:33 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Iowa Film Productions

Frank Meeink
City Year Flickr Account

Frank Meeink became a skinhead when he was just thirteen. He roamed the country as an Aryan leader and Neo-Nazi recruiter with gangs that would beat people indiscriminately. Now, he’s a civil rights activist.


Today on River To River we will talk to Meeink and filmmaker Kristian Day who is documenting Meeink’s journey throughout Iowa as he searches for his spirituality.

River to River
1:19 pm
Mon August 27, 2012

UI Instrument On NASA Spacecraft And Media Culture In Turkey

NASA

What does weather in space have to do with us on Earth? A lot it turns out.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa Astronomy Professor Craig Kletzing. He talks about the instrument created by University of Iowa researchers that is aboard NASA’s latest mission to study the extremes of space weather and help scientists improve space weather forecasts.

Then, David Perlmutter, Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa, talks about his trip this summer with other delegates to experience the culture of media in Turkey.

River to River
2:03 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Exploring the Nature of Terror

In his new book, celebrated poet, essayist, and Director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program Christopher Merrill explores the nature of terror, its place in the post-911 world and how terror unites and galvanizes those in the throes of it. In The Tree of Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War Merrill takes us on his exotic journeys to Malaysia, China, the Dead Sea and war-torn Syria.

River to River
1:19 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

The "Rock Island Clean Line" and Wind Energy Tax Credits

Elkton, IA
Jim Hammer / flickr

One of the limitations of the wind energy industry has been connecting it to the power grid. On today's "River to River", we hear about The Rock Island Clean Line, a project to deliver 35-hundred megawatts of wind power from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and states to the East. We also find out what will happen to the effort if wind energy tax credits are eliminated.

River to River
1:16 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Politics and Religion

The U.S. Constitution says "Congress shall make no law, respecting an establishment of Religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," and the true meaning of those words can evoke discord still today.


Host Ben Kieffer talks with Dennis Goldford, author and professor of politics at Drake University, about religion, which he tackles in his new book "The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics and the First Amendment."


Then, we look at religion's role in the 2012 election.

River to River
1:27 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Borlaug-Ruan International Internships and the Creator of Farm Manuals Fast

Tyler Finchum, Creator and Owner of Farm Manuals Fast
Tim Schoon

The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program plays a critical role in inspiring the next generation of young Iowans to pursue education and careers in agriculture and food science. Each year, this World Food Prize internship program sends over 20 high school students on all-expenses-paid, eight-week international internships at research centers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East where they gain firsthand experience in the field and lab, become familiar with other cultures and learn from renowned experts and mentors.

River to River
11:38 am
Mon August 20, 2012

Voices of Multiple Sclerosis

It's a disease that effects 2.5 million people worldwide, including hundreds of thousands of Americans. Listen back to a conversation from 2010 with several people whose compelling stories are featured in the book "Voice of Multiple Sclerosis" - essays offering candid, heartfelt, and inspiring testimonials of people who have been impacted by the crippling disease.

River to River
2:13 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Being Southeast Asian in Iowa

All this week, we’ve been hearing what it’s like “Being Southeast Asian in Iowa.”  Our reports from IPR’s Rob Dillard have highlighted why so many Southeast Asians – many of them refugees -- settled in Iowa. Today, we’ll explore the culture of people from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and more --- and the efforts to preserve the culture in Iowa.

River to River
2:43 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Back-to-school: Digital Learning and Bully Prevention

Ngo Quang Minh / flickr

On today’s "River to River", we’re taking a look at  how digital technology is revamping the way today’s students learn. Many districts are renting out laptops to students and doing away with the traditional textbook model of learning. Then, we speak with several experts on how bullying can be prevented in Iowa’s schools and communities.

River to River
2:55 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Politics Day

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Iowa is once again at the center of the race for the White House – President Obama is on a three day bus tour of the state and newly minted Republican V-P pick Representative Paul Ryan was at the Iowa State Fair. This River to River, we’ll talk about Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan and what the effect might be in swing states such as Iowa. Our guests are political analysts Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Tim Dale of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

River to River
12:07 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

The Hominid Species from Two Million Years Ago

Australopithecus sediba juvenile male skull - Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Tim (dctim1) / flickr

We listen back to Ben’s conversation with Lee Berger, American Paleoanthropologist who in 2010 discovered the bones of a new hominid species that lived almost two million years ago.  Later, researchers from UI and ISU discuss the historic find.

River to River
10:32 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Career Criminals And Global Warming's Potential To Spark Violence

Dave Dehetre Flickr

Are career criminals born or made? Host Ben Kieffer talks with Matt DeLisi, an associate professor of sociology and director of the criminal justice program at Iowa State University, about how a lifetime of events can impact an individual and has the potential to mold them into a repeat offender. Then, Iowa Sate University Psychologist Craig Anderson discusses a study that shows as the average temperature of earth rises, so does the potential for violent tendencies.

River to River
12:01 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Autism As Diversity

Most view Autism as a devastating disorder- one that needs to be cured—but could it be viewed as a form of diversity? We listen back to Ben Kieffer’s conversation with two Grinnell residents, Emily Thornton Savarese and Ralph James Savarese, parents of an autistic child. They are the editors of a special issue of Disabilities Studies Quarterly entitled "Autism and the Concept of Neurodiversity". Then, a Syracuse college student diagnosed with Autism joins the conversation.

River to River
11:21 am
Thu August 9, 2012

Patterns of the Iowa Supreme Court

On today's "River to River", we take look at the inner workings of the Iowa Supreme Court -  including patterns emerging that provide clues as to how individual judges view issues before the court.  Katherine talks with Des Moines attorney Ryan Koopmans who’s analyzed Iowa Supreme Court Decisions over the past year. Later, host Ben Kieffer talks with author and historian Lawrence Goldstone. Goldstone has studied the U.S. Supreme Court and its interpretation of several amendments to the Constitution.

River to River
2:36 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Digital Deception and Solder Patents

Brandon Warren / flickr

When someone is trying to lie to you in  face-to-face exchange, you may be able to tell by their shifting eyes.  But what if that deception comes in text communication or in an email?  We listen back to Ben’s conversation with Joey George, an Iowa State University professor of Management Information Systems.  He’s studied computer mediated deceptive communication and will tell us how we’re learning to lie digitally.  Then, a look at the Ames Laboratory and patents developed there- including a 40-million dollar lead-free solder patent.  In 2011, the patent become the top royalty income gener

River to River
11:49 am
Mon August 6, 2012

Capturing Reactions to Disability And Aiding Nepalese Children

Photogrpaher Kevin Connolly captured reactions to him, a legless man, zooming around on a skateboard all over the world.

Listen back to host, Ben Kieffer’s, conversation with Kevin Connolly, a photographer who was born without legs. He traveled the world taking pictures of people reacting to him -- a legless man zooming by on a skateboard. Then, Conor Grennan talks with Ben about his work helping Nepalese children who are victims of child trafficking.

River to River
1:21 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Keeping Your Children Safe

AP Photo/FBI

The story of two missing Evansdale girls has captured the state's and the nation's attention. Host Ben Kieffer talks with the Black Haw County Sheriff's Department to get an update on the case. Then the National Safety Director of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children talks about what parents and the public can do to help with the case and how we can use the Evansdale case as an opportunity to talk with our children about staying safe.

River to River
1:16 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Changing Media Landcsape and Taking a Media Diet

We all realize the media landscape is changing very quickly. But where are we headed? And have you ever considered putting yourself on a media diet?  We’d originally scheduled Governor Branstad to join us live today. However, late this morning, the Governor’s office let us know that he now has a scheduling conflict. We’ll try to reschedule that conversation for a future date.

Instead today, we’ll listen back to conversation about changes in the media with Executive Director of the Iowa Broadcast News Association Jeff Stein.

River to River
9:23 am
Wed August 1, 2012

The Politics of Foreign Policy

Dave Lawerence Flickr

This week Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wrapped up a three-nation international trip – to England, Israel and Poland. Some of his comments abroad sure put him in the media limelight, but will it help or hurt his campaign? Host Ben Kieffer talks with political science professors  Lindsay Cohn from the University of Northern Iowa and Jim McCormick from Iowa State University about the politics of foreign policy in this presidential election year.

Business/Economy
7:59 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Iowa's Population Growth

While Iowa's total population grew by 2.8 percent over the past nine years, the 2010 Census Report shows that the growth has occurred in the state's largest cities and their suburbs, while the rural areas are losing residents.

River to River
11:53 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Comedian Nathan Timmel and Remembering Lauren Reece Flaum

Iowa comedian and author Nathan Timmel's new book.
Nathan Timmel

One Iowa comedian says he turns to his uncommon experiences growing up for his profession. Host Ben Kieffer talks with comedian and author, Nathan Timmel, about his memoir “I Was a White Knight…Once.”

Then, listen back to excerpts from Ben’s conversation with Lauren Reece Flaum, who died this month after living with breast cancer for 17 years. In 2008, Redbook magazine asked its readers to submit their stories about living with breast cancer and Flaum beat out thousands of entries to win the contest.

River to River
9:14 am
Fri July 27, 2012

A Runner Without a Country and Champion Debaters

Former Iowa State University runner Guor Marial from South Sudan. Marial will compete in the Olympic marathon under the Olympic flag.
Iowa State University

He’s been dubbed the ‘runner without a country’ – Guor Marial is a 28-year-old marathon runner and refugee from the newly independent African nation of South Sudan. After Marial escaped Sudan as a child, he came to the United States and competed in cross country at Iowa State University. Though he’s a U.S. resident, he’s not a citizen and South Sudan does not yet have a national Olympic body, but after months of consideration, the International Olympic Committee ruled Marial could compete under the Olympic flag – joining three others who will do the same during the London games.

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