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
9:51 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Cold Cases

Early one morning in 1995, anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit didn’t show up for work at her Mason City TV station.

Her disappearance is one of Iowa’s most discussed unsolved cases. Listen back to host, Ben Kieffer’s, discussion with Beth Bednar about her book on the case called Dead Air.

Then, a look into how state law enforcement goes about investigating dozens of cold cases.

River to River
1:45 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

Summer Drought

Clint Alley / flickr

Most of Iowa is now experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions… along with more than half the country.  On today's "River to River' we hear from farmers, business owners and cities about how they’re being affected.  We talk with Elwynn Taylor about the prospects for turning the dry weather around.  And Harry Hillaker tells us how this drought compares with others in the state’s history. 

River to River
11:35 am
Wed July 18, 2012

Politics Day

Recent political ads from both presidential parties have caused hand-wringing on both sides of the isle. This Politics Day we talk with political experts Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, and Dennis Goldford, professor of politics at Drake University, about the latest developments on the political stage.

River to River
11:59 am
Tue July 17, 2012

Summer Series: Manufacturing Communities

Cedar Rapids 2012
Christopher Dilts [Barack Obama / flickr]

Iowa ranks in the top 10 states most dependent on manufacturing, and the more than six-thousand manufacturing firms located in the state represent almost 11-percent of all employment.  We continue our summer series on Iowa towns with a look at how manufacturing has shaped the history, economy and education of Iowa communities.

River to River
1:24 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

Solar Energy

A new state tax credit is encouraging homeowners to invest in solar energy and people throughout Iowa are already using the renewable resource.  Ben Kieffer talks with homeowner, Steve Peterson, who has a solar system in his home, along with Dennis Pottratz, whose renewable energy company installed Steve’s solar system. Energy Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council, Nathaniel Baer, discusses the tax breaks.

River to River
9:31 am
Fri July 13, 2012

Sustainable Businesses

In 1974, Elliot Hoffman founded the successful business Just Desserts in San Francisco. Now he’s working to spread a message of sustainability across the country.

Listen back to a conversation from April of last year between host Ben Kieffer and Elliot Hoffman. Hoffman’s new venture is called New Voice of Business. He visited Iowa last year – talking about how businesses can benefit the bottom line by adopting sustainable practices.

Iowa business owners and managers also talk about their struggles and successes with sustainability.

River to River
12:18 pm
Thu July 12, 2012

Mistaken Eyewitness Identification

Kevin Dooley / flickr

Of the 273 exonerations granted to convicted criminals since 1989, more than 75-percent can be attributed to mistaken eyewitness identification. That's according to the Innocence Project. Today on "River to River", we talk with ISU Psychology professor Gary Wells, who says he's developed a procedure to substantially reduce mistaken identifications in photo lineups.

River to River
11:38 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Willpower

The average person spends four hours of their day battling… temptation. We listen back to Ben Kieffer's conversation with New York Times science writer John Tierney. His book Willpower looks at the latest research on self-control and how you can strengthen it. Then, Jennifer Margrett of Iowa State University talks about her study on how social partners can help extend memory.

River to River
1:43 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

New Laws Take Effect & Swimming Tragedy

Iowa State Capitol

The Iowa legislative session ended in May but many of the new laws took effect earlier this week. To begin the hour, we listen back to a conversation IPR’s Joyce Russell had with Senate Majority Leader Democrat Mike Gronstal and House Assistant Majority Leader Republican Steve Lukan. Speaking soon after the legislature adjourned, they talk about the accomplishments of the session, what didn’t get passed, and what legislative issues might be on tap for next year. Then, host Ben Kieffer talks with guests about other new laws including changes in liquor regulations and rules of the road.

River to River
2:07 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Iowa Citizen Diplomacy and Ambassador Dan Mozena

We start the program with a conversation with Dan Mozena, member of the United States Foreign Service, currently U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh – a post he has held since November of last year. Mozena was born and raised on his family’s dairy farm in northeast Iowa near Dubuque.  He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in political science and history. Dan Mozena has served in many other countries –in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Pakistan, and Angola.  Later, what is it about Iowa that has spawned so many U.S.

River to River
9:21 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Violent Crime: One Victim’s Story

Jonna Williams

Host Ben Kieffer’s recent conversations with offenders inside the Iowa State Penitentiary prompted this look at the victim’s perspective on violent crime. This hour, Ben talks with Jonna Williams of Waterloo, the victim of a kidnapping and rape in 1994, when she was just 13 years old. Also joining the conversation are Black Hawk County Prosecutor Tom Ferguson and Mary Roche, Director of Victim Programs with the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Contact Jonna about victim’s advocacy through her Facebook page

River to River
12:04 pm
Fri June 29, 2012

Andrew Chaikin's "A Man on the Moon" and Grinnell College President, Raynard Kington

Today's "River to River" features noted space historian, Andrew Chaikin. Chaikin is author of the acclaimed A Man on the Moon and several other books about space. He’ll be visiting Iowa to talk about the search for life in the solar system. Then, Grinnell College President Raynard Kington as part of our summer series talking with Iowa university and college presidents.

River to River
1:51 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Health Care Law Reaction and President David Maxwell of Drake University

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the health care mandate proposed by President Obama. Today on "River to River", we hear what Iowans have to say about the decision. We also speak with political science professor, Dennis Goldford, on how the ruling may affect Iowa voters. Later in the program, Drake University President David Maxwell joins us as part of our summer series of conversations with Iowa university and college presidents. We’ll talk about what private universities can do to be attractive and affordable during a challenging economy.

Politics
12:53 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Political Road Trip

If you avoid discussing politics in mixed company, imagine road-tripping across the country with someone from the opposing party.  Republican Meghan McCain and Democrat Michael Ian Black join Ben Kieffer to discuss their travels across the country in their new book, "America You Sexy Bitch".  They traveled through red and blue parts of the country talking with voters and each other.  

 

 

River to River
2:41 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Mammoth Bones and Iowa's Barefoot Runner

An Iowa man and his sons made a huge discovery on their Oskaloosa farm recently. Now scientists are in the process of excavating a mammoth skeleton.  We’ll hear what they hope to learn from the find. Then, 18-year-old Rae Heim of Carroll is running barefoot across the country this year from Boston to Huntington Beach, CA. She has reached Iowa – raising money for an organization called souls4soles – a Christian organization which supplies shoes to needy kids.  Rae talks with River to River's Ben Kieffer about her journey.

Sports
12:15 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Iowa Woman Runs Barefoot Across America

18 year old Rae Heim of Carroll is running barefoot across the country this year from Boston to Huntington Beach, CA. She has reached Iowa – raising money for an organization called souls4soles – a Christian organization which supplies shoes to needy kids.  Rae talks with River to River's Ben Kieffer about her journey.

 

River to River
1:23 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

Secret Intelligence in the FBI

Sometimes we tend to think of the FBI as America’s police force, but the bureau’s primary mission is actually secret intelligence. Host Ben Kieffer talks about the history of the FBI with award-winning author Tim Weiner and his new book Enemies: A History of the FBI. Later, Ben talks with Jim McMillan, a special agent stationed in the Quad Cities, about the facts and fiction behind being an agent.

River to River
11:41 am
Thu June 21, 2012

University President Sally Mason and Rural Attorneys

Receiving basic legal services such as drafting a contract or selling a house is becoming more difficult in some rural Iowa communities. Rural attorneys are retiring and many are not being replaced. I’m Ben Kieffer, and next time on River to River we’ll talk about a new collaboration between the Iowa State Bar Association and Iowa law programs encouraging young attorneys to practice in small towns. And, a conversation with University of Iowa President Sally Mason.

River to River
1:30 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

Politics Day: Voter Fraud

openmarket.org

The general election is just over four months away and some may already know how and when they’re voting. Host Ben Kieffer talks with University of Iowa Political Science Professor Tim Hagle and Associate Professor and author Doug Jones about the attempts made to improve the voting process and if the U.S. elections have gotten better. Later, Ben talks with Bill Schickel, Co-Chair of the Republican Party of Iowa and Caucus Review Committee Chairman about lessons learned from the GOP caucus counting mix-up.

River to River
2:06 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

Des Moines Turning Into Hub for Entrepeneurship

More and more entrepreneurs are finding niches for creative business ventures in Iowa. This hour on River to River, we'll talk with Mike Colwell, the Executive Director of the Business Innovation Zone about how that state is becoming a hub for young professionals. We're also joined by two attorneys who started a B-Amazing Foods, a nutrition bar company, and a video producer who found her entrepreneurial spirit by moving to Des Moines. Veel Hoeden, a shared workspace in Pella.

River to River
2:22 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Sleep Doctor Eric Dyken

What keeps you awake at night? This hour on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with neurologist Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center. We'll hear about a new study on restless leg syndrome being conducted at the University of Iowa, a study linking sleep apnea to cancer and new research showing that most managers sleep with their smartphones. Dyken also tells us about how sleeping with a spouse can be beneficial. 

River to River
1:38 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Being in Iowa: Learning Disabled

In a weeklong series IPR reporter Rob Dillard connected with Iowans to share how their learning disability impacted their life. Host Ben Kieffer talks with doctors and people featured in the series about learning disabilities and how their lives have changed.

River to River
1:18 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Retired Hy-Vee CEO Ric Jurgens & Health and Wellness

Earlier this month Ric Jurgens retired as CEO and Chairman of Hy-Vee after 43 years with the company. The Iowa-based supermarket chain operates 235 stores in eight states. This hour on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Ric Jurgens about the evolution of Hy-Vee and trends in the grocery business. During the second half of the hour, we'll talk with two dieticians about healthy eating and changes to school lunch menus which take effect this year.

River to River
11:35 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Practical Wisdom

Greek philosopher Aristotle called it practical wisdom; we know it as common sense. Is there a lack of it in our society? In an encore show, listen back to when host Ben Kieffer spoke with Political Science Professor Kenneth Sharpe who, along with Barry Schwartz, wrote a book that argues much dissatisfaction with institutions comes from people within the system being unable to use their practical wisdom – or common sense. Also listen to callers who share personal stories of instances where practical wisdom was abundant, or abundantly lacking.

River to River
1:34 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Villisca Axe Murder 100th Anniversary

One hundred years ago, an entire family was wiped out by an axe wielding killer in the southwestern Iowa town of Villisca, a crime that remains unsolved to this day. Host Ben Kieffer re-examines Iowa’s worst mass homicide with award-winning filmmakers Tammy and Kelly Rundle who made a documentary about the incident. Ben also talks with historian Edgar Epperly.

River to River
1:23 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Iowa City Landfill Fire Update and Homeless Animals

This hour on River to River, we get an update on the Iowa City Landfill fire which currently covers 7 acres of land and is producing a toxic, tar-like liquid that is highly flammable. In the second half of the hour, we'll talk about the record number of animals in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and what can be done about the problem. 

River to River
1:48 pm
Wed June 6, 2012

Politics Day - Wisconsin Recall Results

 Tuesday’s Wisconsin recall election revealed Scott Walker will retain his seat as governor. IPR’s Dean Borg talks with political scientists from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, the University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa about what Scott Walker’s success in overcoming a recall election means for Democrats and Republicans. Later, Dean also analyzes the races in Iowa’s Congressional districts now that the general election ballot is set.

River to River
1:57 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Mount Everest Overcrowding and World Record Juggling in Iowa

A recent photo by Outside Magazine shows a line of 300 climbers on Mt. Everest creating a bottleneck which contributed to the deaths of four people. On this River, program, guest host Alex Heuer talks with the first Iowan to summit Mount Everest,  Charlie Wittmack , and Iowa City physician and mountain climber Chuck Huss. They’ll talk about the increasing popularity of climbing the world’s tallest peak and the implications. Then, Alex talks with the world’s fastest juggler, Iowan Mark Hanson of Kanawha. His juggling attempt was recently certified by Guinness World Records.

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.

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