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

River to River
12:00 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Iowans in the NBA

We’ve reached the final four in the National Basketball Association Playoffs.  We’ll get insights and analysis from two Iowans who are pro-basketball lifers- Fort Madison native Ryan Bowen, an eleven-year NBA veteran who works on the Denver Nuggets coaching staff.  And West Des Moines’ Matt Bullard, who played 12 NBA seasons, and works as the color commentator on Houston Rockets broadcasts.  We’ll also hear  how they’re Iowa roots have helped them on the professional basketball stage.

 

 

 

River to River
12:02 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Inside the Fort Madison State Penitentiary - Part 2

Alex Heuer Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer continues the second hour of the special, two-part program featuring conversations he had on a recent trip to the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison. The current building dates back to 1839 but a new prison is under construction. Ben talks with two inmates serving life sentences to find out about their lives now and how that may change at the new facility. Ben later talks with Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections John Baldwin.

River to River
1:21 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Inside the Fort Madison State Penitentiary

Alex Heuer Iowa Public Radio

Have you ever wondered what life is like behind bars? On River to River today, we aired the first of a special two-part program from inside the Iowa State Penitentiary in Ft. Madison, the oldest prison west of the Mississippi still in use. During this hour, we hear from Warden Nick Ludwick, a counselor who was taken hostage during a prison riot in the 1980’s and from offenders serving life sentences.

River to River
8:47 am
Wed May 30, 2012

Politics Day - Primary Preview

All eyes are on Texas, but attention will soon turn to Iowa's primary elections and the efforts to recall a sitting Governor in Wisconsin.  Host Ben Kieffer will analyze results and look ahead for signs of what's to come with Drake University Political Scientist Dennis Goldford and University of Iowa Professor Emeritus of Communications Bruce Gronbeck.

River to River
10:26 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Animal Tool Behavior

Tools are not only used by humans- ground squirrels kick sand in the faces of venomous snakes, mice set out markers to find their way home and apes do all kinds of things with tools - crack open nuts, apply herbal medications, open locks and doors, stir liquids, saw wood and even dig with a shovel. In a program that originally aired last June, Ben talks with the authors of the revision of the seminal book Animal Tool Behavior.   We ask if tool use is evolutionary important and what it indica

Read more
River to River
1:51 pm
Fri May 25, 2012

Wind Energy in Iowa

flickr

Following President Obama’s stop at an Iowa wind turbine blade manufacturer to warn of the pending loss of wind energy tax credits, host Ben Kieffer talks with wind energy businessman Rob Hoch from Alta who sat down with the President this week. Also, David Kreutzer, a senior policy analyst from the Heritage Foundation talks about the potential problems with wind energy. Later, Ben talks with author Philip Warburg whose new book, “Harvest the Wind”, looks at the hope and promise wind energy could bring to declining rural communities.

River to River
4:12 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Polk County Sheriff Visits Israel & Life of Secret Service Agent

Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy has just returned from Israel, chosen by the National Sheriff's Association to learn about homeland security measures. McCarthy talks about the experience, including learning about the mindset of suicide bombers and new security technologies. Later, members of the U.S. Secret Service are in the state, providing security for President Obama's central Iowa campaign stop. Ben talks with former secret service agent Dan Emmett about what it takes to protect the nation's top executive.

River to River
9:16 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Politics Day

President Obama is back in the state this week, visiting a wind turbine manufacturer in Newton. We'll look at how the pending loss of two wind energy tax credits could affect Iowa's economy. Also, a new poll shows the President and Mitt Romney locked in a dead heat over who could fix the economy.  Ben's guests are University of Northern Iowa Political Science Chair Donna Hoffman and University of Iowa Associate Political Science Professor Tim Hagle. Iowa Public Radio Chief Correspondent Dean Borg joins the conversation to discuss the 1st District Primary debate held this week in Cedar Rapid

River to River
2:31 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Boating Safety on Iowa Waterways & Rescue at Maquoketa Caves State Park

This week is National Safe Boating Week, which comes after an unfortunate boating accident over the weekend on the Mississippi River which claimed the lives of four boaters and injured eight others. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Susan Stocker, Boating Safety Coordinator for the Iowa DNR and Robert Edwards, of the Maquoketa Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Edwards was one of the first rescuers on the scene of where a couple of spelunkers were trapped in a cave at Maquoketa Caves State Park – one for more than 20 hours.

Environment
5:30 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Joplin, One Year Later

Ian Coday and Martha Goldman with a glass shard from their former home. The tornado leveled their neighborhood. The couple hid in their closet, which turned out to be the only part of the house left standing.
Liam Kieffer

One year ago – on May 22, 2011 – one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history struck the city of Joplin, Missouri. The twister killed 160 people and injured hundreds more.

Recently, IPR’s Ben Kieffer traveled to Joplin to talk with tornado survivors. 

He also spoke with researchers from Iowa State University who went to Joplin in the immediate aftermath. They surveyed structural damage to find out what it reveals about how best to survive a tornado.  

River to River
3:07 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Joplin Anniversary

A former neighborhood in Joplin ten months after the tornado.
Liam Kieffer

One year after one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history struck Joplin, Missouri, host Ben Kieffer takes us on trip to Joplin to talk with survivors of the disaster.

We hear from Martha Goldman and Ian Coday, the young couple who survived in their closet as the house around them was ripped away. Also, 76-yr old Carolyn Pendergraft talks about surviving in her basement while above her half century-old donut shop was destroyed.

River to River
11:44 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Technology Free Getaways

The Inn at Irish Hollow

Cell phones, computers, televisions – they seem to be everywhere we go. Join host Ben Kieffer as we explore an effort by the Tri-State Tourism Council promoting technology-free getaways in eastern Iowa, southwest Wisconsin, and northwest Illinois.

Read more
River to River
12:08 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Dee Dee Myers & Speedo's Fastskin 3 Racing System

Iowa State kinesiology professor Rick Sharp called upon Cyclone swimmers (L to R) Amanda Paulson, Bri Carlberg and Imelda Wistey to test out Speedo's new Fastskin®3 Racing System.
Photo by ISU News Service

Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, who served during President Bill Clinton’s first term. Myers is the author of the 2008 New York Times best-selling book “Why Women Should Rule the World.”  She, along with former presidential advisor Karl Rove, will share insights on the presidential election Thursday evening, May 17th at Cornell College.

River to River
3:11 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Politics Day

Mitt Romney returned to Iowa for the first time since becoming his party's presumptive nominee, and likened President Obama's economic leadership to a "prairie fire" looming on the horizon.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science at ISU, and Chris Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science at UNI.  They discuss Romney's visit, Obama's talking points on JP Morgan Chase, Iowa's congressional races and Ron Paul's delegate strategy.

River to River
1:10 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

Agricultural Reporters Roundtable

Dow Chemical’s so-called “Agent Orange Corn” is being criticized by some in the agriculture community but is being praised by others as weed resistance plagues farmers. Corn producers fret about a possible decline in corn prices in a record planting year, and beef producers are concerned about affects of the controversy regarding “lean finely textured beef.” This hour we talk with Rob Swoboda, the editor of Wallace’s Farmer, Dan Piller of the Des Moines Register and Iowa Public Radio correspondent Clay Masters about issues facing Iowa’s agriculture industry.

River to River
1:12 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Marketing of Mom and Dave Isay

Mother’s day is this weekend.  StoryCorps founder David Isay’s book, “Mom” is based on interviews from around the country -- people talking to, and about, their mothers.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Isay.  And, he takes a look at the marketing of mom.  Many companies run ads around mother's day aimed at moms, and seeking to attach positive memories to their products.  How successful are their efforts?

River to River
1:30 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Amusement Park Attendance & Life-Saving Story

Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with Tom Schrier of Iowa State University about his work studying how new attractions influence attendance rates at amusement parks.  Then, on July 9, 2011, Joe Gantner of Cedar Rapids set-off on a 100-mile training ride for RAGBRAI. About four miles into the trip his heart stopped and he lost consciousness.  Ben talks with Joe Gatner about the remarkable story of how he survived the ordeal and is now preparing for this year’s bicycle ride across Iowa. RAGBRAI director T.J.

River to River
1:11 pm
Wed May 9, 2012

Politics Day - International Stories

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls Syria one of the “most serious and gravest concerns of the international community.”  Greece still hasn’t formed a government, which has caused a slump on Wall Street.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Chair of Political Science at Iowa State University and David Skidmore, Professor of Politics and International Relations at Drake University about these stories.  They also discuss an honor for former Iowa Supreme Court Justices and the Obama administration's evolving stance on same sex marriage.

River to River
2:40 pm
Tue May 8, 2012

Graduation Stories

It’s graduation time for students at Iowa’s colleges and universities.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with three graduating students including Sarah Myers, who earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree this past weekend from Iowa State University.  In the last few years she got married, was diagnosed with two different forms of cancer, and gave birth – all before passing her veterinary medicine boards last year.

River to River
1:06 pm
Mon May 7, 2012

Retiring from the Statehouse

At a time in our politics when every debate seems to be dominated by rancor and partisanship… retiring Representative Kurt Swaim of Bloomfield got up on the floor of the Iowa House last month and proclaimed his love for his colleagues, their staffs and the political system.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Rep. Swaim and Representative Lance Horbach as they prepare to leave lawmaking behind.  He also speaks to Mike Glover, who recently retired as Senior Legislative and Political Correspondent for the Associated Press in Des Moines, about his long career covering Iowa politics.

River to River
1:11 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Building Computer Apps in Class

Not long ago, the word 'app' was unfamiliar to many. Today, many of us would be lost without our favorite mobile software applications. We'll examine a class at the University of Iowa focused on building computer apps. Among Ben's guests- UI Computer Science Professors Ted Herman and Jim Cremer.

River to River
1:03 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Osama bin Laden Anniversary and Pakistan

Pakistan went on high alert this week over fears militants would launch revenge attacks on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing. The anniversary caps a devastating year for the country as it’s alliances with the west remain strained. We'll get an update on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship with Aakif Ahmad of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative who visits Iowa next week to talk about relations with Pakistan.

River to River
1:21 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Politics and Partisanship

Approval ratings for Congress are holding steady in the teens, but as bad as you think partisanship is – the authors of a new book say “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.” Host Jonathan Ahl talks with some of Iowa’s former Congressmen to get their impressions of partisanship today, as compared to when they were serving in office. What’s your solution for getting our dysfunctional Congress back on track?

River to River
2:41 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Digital Discourse and Online Civility (Encore)

In a program that originally aired last May, we host a conversation about cyber civility. With a rapidly advancing technological society, we investigate how technology plays a roll in communication. In light of a controversial email sent from University of Iowa Professor Ellen Lewin, we take a look at how people are communicating digitally and how their digital communication differs from how they would communicate face to face. Is there a need for more digital discourse?

Read more
River to River
1:06 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Author Erik Larson and Statehouse Update

History offers the benefit of hindsight. But New York Times Bestselling author Erik Larson tries to transport readers back in time, before the outcome of events was known.  In his latest book, In the Garden of Beasts he takes us to pre-war Berlin with the family of the first U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany, William E. Dodd.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about narrative non-fiction in advance of a visit to Des Moines.  And Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell tells us how close Iowa lawmakers may be to adjournment.

River to River
11:35 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Police K-9's/Denise O'Brien

How are canines aiding in crime fighting efforts? We'll find out when Ben talks to Officer Cordell Miller of the Des Moines Police Department. Miller's German Sheppard Bello tracked down a crime suspect that would have escaped if not for Bello's crime fighting abilities. Later, a conversation with Denise O'Brien from Atlantic, Iowa. She's just returned from a year-long mission in Afghanistan working on a reconstruction team with Afghan farmers.   

River to River
11:26 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Zach Wahls

Iowa City native Zach Wahls skyrocketed to celebrity after a video of his speech before the Iowa Legislature became the top political youtube video of 2011. Now he’s written a book called My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family that looks at growing up with two lesbian mothers. Ben talks with Zach about the book and his newfound celebrity, which includes an appearance this week on Late Night with David Letterman.

River to River
2:49 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Politics Day: Obama in Iowa

President Obama makes another stop in our fair swing state of Iowa. Mitt Romney pivots toward the general election... campaigning with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, as the Veepstakes heat up. And the trial of John Edwards on federal campaign finance charges in North Carolina. Host Ben Kieffer talks with analysts Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Dennis Goldford of Drake University about these and other issues in our weekly political discussion.
 

River to River
1:19 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Combat Veterans Coping with PTSD through Psychiatric Service Dogs

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. Join host Ben Kieffer as he talks with combat veteran Wade Baker and the organization’s executive director Nicole Shumate.

River to River
6:17 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Service dogs help combat veterans cope

Honor the service dog sitting by the side of Sgt. Wade Baker in the IPR studios
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 and Effect is helping some Iowa veterans live better lives.

Sgt. Wade Baker’s solid physique and square jaw contrast nicely with the dark, lithe form of Honor, the young psychiatric service dog at his side.

Read more

Pages