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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Java Blend
5:06 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

A Summer with the Best of Java Blend

Tune in to IPR Studio One this summer and chill out with some of the coolest artists from 2012.

This summer, June through September, we'll be looking back at some of our favorite Java Blend broadcasts of 2012.

Tune in every Saturday starting June 14 at 2 PM to catch these special encore broadcasts featuring locally grown and nationally known artists. 

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News Buzz
1:12 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Iowan says he owes his life to Medal of Honor Recepient

Kain Schilling with his friend and Medal of Honor recepient Kyle White
Courtesy of Kain Schilling

 Former Army Spec. Kain Schilling says he owes his life to his friend and comrade former Army Sergeant Kyle White, “I could never repay him. We’re good friends... He knows I’m extremely thankful and that my family is eternally grateful.”

Schilling lives in Palo, Iowa and attended a White House ceremony earlier this week where his friend and was awarded the United States Military’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor. He talks with host Ben Kieffer about an ambush in Afghanistan in 2007 by Taliban forces when White saved his life and the lives of several others in their unit.

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News Buzz
12:49 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Ames 5th Grader to Represent Iowa in National Geographic Bee

Top 10 finalists from last year's National Geographic Bee
Rebecca Hale

Shirlin Kingston, a 5th grader from Ames, will represent Iowa at the 26th annual National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C. She leaves Sunday for the East coast and  says the fact that she is homeschooled and gets to spend more time on what interests her has helped her succeed in the competition so far.

If she wins the national bee, she’ll win a trip to the Galapagos Islands, which is exactly the place she’s says she's always wanted to go. “It’s right next to the equator, but they have penguins there” she tells host Ben Kieffer during this River to River interview. 

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Java Blend
10:41 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With The Grahams

Tune in for the soulful and soothing sounds of The Grahams.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with The Grahams.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the making of their debut album. 

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River to River
10:48 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Africa, Behind the Headlines

First Lady Michelle Obama
Twitter.com

The kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian girls has captured world attention.  But the Nigerian government has been unsuccessfully trying to put down an insurgency by Boko Haram for years.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Pita Agbese, Professor of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa about the social media campaign that included a photo tweeted by First Lady Michelle Obama and how that has forced the Nigerian government to act.  He also speaks with Moses Bomett, Founder and President of Hope for Africa, a non-profit that raises money to support schools in Kenya.  And he talk with Jim

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News Buzz
5:30 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Whiskey Flavored Pigs?

Templeton Rye's Heritage Pork Project pigs
El Photography and Design

If you drink whiskey, and if you eat pork, you’ve probably come to understand them as a pretty good pairing. Scott Bush, President and Founder of Templeton Rye Whiskey in Templeton, Iowa, says he's always enjoyed the combination. Recently, he's taken it one step further.

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News Buzz
2:55 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Mobile Museum to Tour State

The University of Iowa's new mobile museum
Lindsey Moon/Iowa Public Radio

Have you ever wished the Museum of Natural History would visit you? Well, it’s on its way.

This spring The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History has launched a new initiative - the University of Iowa Mobile Museum - in collaboration with the UI’s Old Capitol Museum and the Office of the State Archaeologist. The 38-foot, custom built RV will being its tour of the state next week.

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Politics Day
5:33 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Frontrunners in Iowa's Republican Nomination for U.S. Senate

Newfrontiers

State Senator Joni Ernst started out relatively unknown in a crowded field for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Is she now the front runner?

We look at the candidacy of Joni Ernst this week, as she gains the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the NRA. Also on the program, a tea party primary win in Nebraska, the likelihood of immigration reform before November’s election, and looking abroad, the latest crisis in Ukraine and Nigeria.

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River to River
5:35 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Iowa Ranked Fourth Worst in U.S. Humane Society Puppy Mill Report

The U.S. Humane Society ranked Iowa as fourth worst in the nation for the number of USDA non-compliant large-scale breeders, commonly known as puppy mills
Mehul Gala

Iowa has the second largest number of large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities in the country. This hour, concerns about what are commonly known as puppy mills.

The U.S. Humane Society's 2014 report includes six problem puppy breeders in Iowa. Today, we talk about concerns over large-scale dog breeders with Mary LaHay, President of Iowa Friends of Companion Animals. She says that Iowa has "over 15,000 adult dogs in Iowa puppy mills, and we can do better than this."

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River to River
4:50 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Opinion Writing with the Resources of a Newsroom Behind It

Columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr.
leonardpittsjr.com

Nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. says extremist Islam is afraid of little girls.  More specifically, he writes, they're afraid of the women they will become.  The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary talks with Host Ben Kieffer about some of his recent writings, including his latest novel, Freeman and why opinion writing is still important.

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News Buzz
2:39 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

More Safe Rooms Needed in Iowa Schools?

Since a devastating tornado struck Moore, Okla., last year, killing seven students and demolishing two elementary schools, parents and school administrators have been asking questions about school safety in Iowa. Mark Schouten, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management says that the agency endorses the construction of safe rooms to protect students from severe weather.

He talks with host Ben Kieffer about what constitutes a safe room, how many schools currently have them and how much it would cost for all schools in Iowa to install them. 

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News Buzz
2:23 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

"I Was Making Sure They Didn't Draft Another Kicker"

Nate Kaeding kicking for the San Diego Chargers in 2008
Wikimedia Commons

The first NFL draft was held in 1936, back when teams didn’t have scouting departments and names of players teams could recruit were written on a blackboard. Today, the process is much more complex. The 2014 NFL draft started yesterday, and until Saturday, teams will be camped out with statisticians, professional scouts and coaches trying to pick the best players to ensure their team has a chance at a good season next fall.

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News Buzz
2:09 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Kiana Phelps Shatters Iowa High School Girls' Discus Record

Kiana Phelps throws the discus at the 2013 Iowa's High School State Track and Field Championship
Jim Lee/The Sioux City Journal http://siouxcityjournal.com/gallery/sports/high-school/track-and-field/photos-state-track-friday-may/collection_f104c949-cc96-5513-80cf-916396b7d39d.html#0

Last night in Kingsley, Iowa,  Kiana Phelps, a two time Drake Relays champion, set a new record for the longest discus throw for a high school girl. She also went on record as having the 9th longest toss nationally. Her throw, which will be recorded as 179 feet and seven inches, breaks the previous record of 166 feet and 10 inches, which was set by Iowa City West's Taylor Freeman in 2008.

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River to River
1:41 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Legislators, State Employees Bypass Metal Detectors at Statehouse

Watch the video: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/iowa-politics/2014/05/07/brad-zaun-carries-gun-iowa-statehouse/8832319/

State Senator Brad Zaun (R) of Urbandale told the Des Moines Register Editorial Board earlier this week that he has carried a 9 millimeter hand gun into the state capitol when the legislature has been in session. "I think that there are too many doors that can be easily accessed without going through security. There are crazy people out there." 

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Agriculture
2:14 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

An Annual $1 Billion Loss From Soil Erosion & What an Iowa Farmer is Doing About It

A storm cell rolls in while Johnson County farmer Jim Sladek is planting corn
Ben Kieffer

The spring planting season is upon us and farmers are racing to get crops in the ground.

So yesterday morning, host Ben Kieffer hopped aboard a tractor with Jim Sladek, of JCS Family Farms in Johnson County, to get his perspective on the start of a new season and the challenges he faces, including soil erosion. Jim also demonstrated the amazing amount of technology that can be used in farming today.

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Java Blend
11:54 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Crankshaft

Tune in for a full hour of pork neck artist, Crankshaft.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Crankshaft.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about what he calls "pork neck" music.

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Politics Day
3:37 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Action Urged on Nigeria, Ukraine and Climate Change

Parents of some of the Chibok kidnapping victims
Voice of America

International outrage has been sparked by the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian girls.  Boko Haram, an Al Qaeda affiliated group, has taken credit for the kidnappings.  The U.S. this week pledged military and law enforcement personnel to aid in the search for the girls.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Professsor of Political Science at Iowa State University about likely U.S. involvement in Nigeria.  They also discuss the unraveling situation in Ukraine with William Reisinger, Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa.

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River to River
1:45 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Innovative Iowa: From Travelers to a Teacher Turned Tech-Entrepreneur

On The Road Bus Adventures
Courtesy of Brian and Lesley Triplett

Our area is home to a host of unique and innovative entrepreneurs.

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News Buzz
4:43 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

A Look at this Year's Legislative Session

John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Happy Friday! Here's your news buzz wrap-up for the week...

Joyce Russell, IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent, recaps the 2014 Iowa legislative session:

Paul Sleeper, Fisheries Biologist for Iowa DNR, explains that fishy smell near your lakes and ponds:

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News Buzz
4:32 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Hey Cancer

To see the video, visit: http://www.scottsiepker.com/new-video-hey-cancer/
Scott Siepker

"Iowa Nice Guy" Scott Siepker joins Ben Kieffer on River to River to talk about his latest video "Hey Cancer," which he created as a humorous tribute to his late father, Terry “Zip” Siepker, who lost his second battle with leukemia last year.

"If you have somebody in your life that you love...please get out there and do it- tell the people you love that you love them!" - Scott Siepker

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Java Blend
12:45 am
Fri May 2, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With A Trio of Iowa Songwriters

Tune in to hear this new fusion of great Iowa songwriters.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with the Des Moines trio of Mary McAdams, Patresa Hartman, and Lily DeTaeye.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about their songwriters in the round.

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Weather
2:30 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Severe Spring Weather: What's Ahead

Severe storm season begins in Iowa
Cedar Rapids artist, Louis / flickr

This week, Iowa has been pummeled by strong winds, rain, hail, and even a tornado – with Sunday’s storm taking the lives of two Iowans.

Today on River to River, severe weather in the Midwest. Two Iowa climatologists, Bill Gallus (ISU) and Alan Czarnetski (UNI), join the program to talk about this year’s spring season.

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River to River
2:08 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

All Things Cosmic, With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson in Austin, TX, with Steve Kawaler (ISU) and Jacklyn R. Green (JPL)

Asteroids, galaxies, aliens, and space travel...we cover it all on this edition of River to River. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins us to weigh in on all things cosmic.

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Health Care
4:21 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

The Influence of Insurance on Your Hospital Bill

Common hospital billing and insurance terms
Emily Woodbury, via Wordle

A trip to the emergency room is expensive, even for more routine procedures. Take for example, Ron Smith, an Indianola resident whose $24,240 bill for a rabies vaccination was negotiated down by $17,627 by his insurance company.

Today, the third installment in our examination of hospital costs. We find out how insurance negotiations play into how much you pay for that ER visit, how Iowa’s insurance landscape may change through the Affordable Care Act, and how the number of visits to the ER may be affected by Obamacare.

Today's guests include:

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Talk of Iowa
1:31 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

News Buzz: Cyber Security and the GOP Senate Candidate Debate

Martin Terber

This week, Iowa State University discovered a security breach affecting computer servers that contained Social Security numbers of thousands of students.  Host Ben Kieffer speaks with Provost Jonathan Wickert about how ISU is protecting their data against hackers.

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Java Blend
10:14 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Dylan Sires and Neighbors

Tune in this weekend and download the podcast for local pop-rockers, Dylan Sires and Neighbors.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Cedar Falls locals and Iowa Pop Kings, Dylan Sires and Neighbors.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about their upcoming international tours.

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River to River
2:44 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Efforts to Curb Human Trafficking in the Midwest

Imagens Evangélicas

Up to two million women and children worldwide are victimized by traffickers each year.

It’s often thought to be a problem outside our border, but the majority of sex trafficking victims in this country are U.S. citizens. And, some of these victims are right here in the Midwest.

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Politics Day
4:19 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

SCOTUS Ruling on Affirmative Action Confusing

U.S. Supreme Court Justices
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that upholds Michigan's right to bar racial preference in college admissions.  Or, at least we think so.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Associate Professor of Political Science Tim Hagle from University of Iowa, and Joan and Abbott Lipsky Professor of Political Science Bruce Nesmith of Coe College about the ruling and what it means.  The opinions are confusing at best.  They also discuss the conflict in Ukraine, and the grassroots mobilization around a 2016 presidential run for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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Education
2:29 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

"Big" Ideas at an Innovative Iowa School

Student McKenna Cole stands with poplar trees used in her experiment to treat wastewater.
Shawn Cornally Iowa BIG

Most high school classwork goes unseen after it’s graded, but a group of teachers in Cedar Rapids is trying to change that. Today on River to River - host Ben Kieffer takes a look at Iowa BIG. This group is a project-based school that gets students out of the classroom, working on projects with a lasting impact on the community... projects including investigations on so-called cancer-causing products, gender bias, robotic prosthetics, and wastewater treatment.

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News Buzz
3:01 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

After 40 Years, Rasberry Williams and his Daughter Reconnect

Happy Friday! It's a "news buzz" edition of River to River, bringing you several Iowa news stories of the week.

Charletta Sudduth was eight years old when her father was incarcerated for shooting and killing a man outside a Waterloo pool hall, a crime he has maintained was in self-defense. Now her father, Rasberry Williams, will be released on parole to an assisted living facility, after serving nearly 40 years of a life sentence. We hear from her:

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