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
8:27 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Iowa Medicine

Colin Burnett

Nearly 200-thousand babies each year are born with congenital clubfoot. On this River to River, Iowa Week continues with a look at pioneering work in medicine.  Hear about the Iowa-based Ponseti International Association which treats clubfoot.  Dr. Herman Hein will tell us about Iowa's Statewide Perinatal Program, which has helped mothers and newborn babies receive needed medical care, and the remarkable story of how the University of Iowa's College of Medicine was funded almost one hundred years ago.

Read more
River to River
3:12 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Iowa Inventors

A working replica of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the first digital computer, invented at Iowa State University by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry
Ray Krebs / flickr

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s the best thing since sliced bread,” but did you know the inventor of sliced bread is from Iowa? Today on River To River, we hear about the lives of some Iowa inventors that made an impact on their state, country, and even the world.

The Iowa inventors we cover on the show include:

Read more
River to River
3:39 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

News Buzz

The Iowa Department of Transportation will allow the state's 37 interstate rest areas to be sponsored by companies and businesses as a way to raise revenue for the DOT's primary road fund.
Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer gets the latest on news from around Iowa.  MidAmerican Energy gives an update on the power outage which left almost 40,000 Des Moines-area residents in the dark. IPR's Joyce Russell discusses changes to the problematic Toledo Juvenile Home.  The DNR has a new report which looks at drought conditions in Iowa.  Also, Dubuque native Brooks Wheelan joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Read more
River to River
4:08 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

An Organ of Mystery

Ars Electronica / flickr

Do you ever wonder why, at a loud party, you are able to comprehend what the person next to you is saying? It’s not because they are louder… It’s due to your brain’s ability to filter and hone in on certain stimuli.

Today on River To River, we focus on the science of the brain with three prominent neuroscientists visiting Iowa. Host Ben Kieffer talks with them about their research on the sense of sound and gets their thoughts on the latest brain-science news.

Read more
River to River
3:44 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Politics Day

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers delivering a Canada 2020 lecture in Ottawa, CA on Nov. 6, 2012. Summers withdrew his name for consideration as chair of the Federal Reserve on Sept. 16, 2013.
Canada 2010 Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer discusses the possible fiscal showdown on the debt ceiling with Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern University and Dennis Goldford of Drake University.

Also, a worrying new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and what to make of Larry Summers withdrawing from consideration to chair the Federal Reserve.

Read more
River to River
3:07 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Reaching Outer Limits

NASA Blueshift / flickr

It’s taken more than three decades for NASA’s Voyager 1 to travel about 11 billion miles to reach the outskirts of our solar system and continue on into interstellar space. Today on River to River, we hear from research scientist, Bill Kurth, about his work on some of the spacecraft’s equipment that was built and operated by the University of Iowa.

Read more
River to River
2:31 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

News Buzz: Gun Permits for the Blind, Astronaut at ISU, and Superstitions

Mojave Desert / flickr

For this News Buzz version of 'River to River' we hear about legally blind Iowans and gun permits, astronaut Clayton Anderson will join the Iowa State University faculty, the Cyclone/Hawkeye game is tomorrow, and hear about superstitions on this Friday the thirteenth.

Read more
River to River
1:44 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Syria: Behind the Headlines

A fountain in Hama, Syria on September 28, 2005. In February 1982 an uprising occurred in Hama. Then-president Hafez al-Assad retaliated and besieged the city. At least 20,000 Syrians died.
Klaus Wagensonner / sipazigaltumu Flickr

The crisis in Syria has been in the headlines for weeks, but the roots of the two-year-long conflict can be traced back decades. Today host Ben Kieffer gets an in-depth understanding of how history of the region brought Syria to the point of civil war, how terrorism figures in and the conflict's potential outcomes.

Read more
River to River
3:29 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Politics Day

A building destroyed by bombing in the Aleppo, Syria on September 11, 2012.
Agencia de Noticias Inter Press Service Flickr

President Obama took his case for military action in Syria to a skeptical American public last night and asserted the need to keep pressure on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Read more
Talk of Iowa
2:32 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

The Future of Football

Stuart Seeger / StuSeeger Flickr

It’s football season and as Iowans stream into bleachers to cheer on high school football teams concerns about head trauma at the highest level of the game is filtering down to youth levels.

Read more
River to River
2:52 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Olympic Wrestling Restored

U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program SGT Spenser Mango lifts Russia's Mingiyan Semenov before losing 2-0, 1-0 in the 2012 London Olympics
Tim Hipps / IMCOM Public Affairs

Wrestling is back in the Olympics after being removed earlier this year.  Hear from University of Iowa Head Coach Kevin Jackson, University of Iowa Associate Coach of Wrestling Terry Brands, and the Manager of Communication at USA Wresting Craig Sesker.  Hear their reactions and hear what will change about wrestling in the future.

Also in this program, Iowa's First District Congressman Bruce Braley talks about whether he would support a resolution authorizing limited action in Syria, and other issues looming as Congress resumes its work.  

Read more
River to River
4:25 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Tele-Medicine Abortions / "Iowa Nice Guy" Scott Siepker / UI President Sally Mason

The final vote on whether wrestling will remain an Olympic sport takes place this weekend in Argentina. So will the sport many connect with the original Olympics be ousted? The “Iowa Nice Guy”, aka Des Moines actor and filmmaker, Scott Siepker has surfaced again, this time to support wrestling’s bid to regain its Olympic spot for 2020 and ’24. We talk with him in the first half hour.

Read more
River to River
3:02 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and the Digital Divide

Representative Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI) share a comment while listening to debate on the America's Affordable Health Choices Act.
House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Congressman Dave Loebsack from Iowa’s 2nd District to discuss his thoughts on a potential a military strike on Syria, the stalled Farm Bill, immigration reform, and the next debt ceiling.

Read more
River to River
2:55 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Politics Day: Syria

Damascus, Syria
Wojtek Ogrodowczyk

How will Iowa’s congressional delegation vote on the question of possible military action in Syria? This show features discussion about the factors that congress will consider, why President Obama chose this path, and how his decision might affect the power of the presidency at home and abroad.

Read more
River to River
1:51 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Binge Drinking and Safety in Schools

According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology on the trajectories of college students' drinking, students drink heaviest during Spring Break followed by New Year's week.
Torch Magazine

Last month the University of Iowa was ranked as the #1 party school by The Princeton Review.  Binge drinking is a problem on not only the Iowa City campus, but on college campuses across Iowa and the U.S. What is the nature of binge drinking and what can be done to curb it?

Read more
River to River
3:10 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

News Buzz: Guns, Allergies, Cheapskates, and 'Cyence'

Professor Arun Somani stands next to an ISU computer that could fill a garage
Bob Elbert

This River to River includes discussion about gun laws in Iowa, high pollen counts and allergies, an Iowan who was appointed to the National Council on the Humanities, ISU has a new very fast computer, hot weather, a holiday weekend State Park preview, and Des Moines and Cedar Rapids are supposedly good places for frugal living.

Read more
River to River
2:27 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

The Farm Progress Show and The Nixon Tapes

The last group of secret recordings President Richard Nixon made while in the White House have been released by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. The new recordings include new 94 tapes comprising 340 hours of recordings.
Trevor Manternach Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer discusses this year's Farm Progress Show with Harvest Public Media reporter Bill Wheelhouse, Iowa State University Professor horticulturalist Kathleen Delate and organic farmer Grant Schultz.   Also, this month the last group of secret recordings Richard Nixon made while president were rele

Read more
River to River
2:28 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Politics Day: U.S. Role In Syria Conflict

President Obama is expected to highlight the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior’s economic agenda as he marks the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on how the President can successfully talk about race and class.

And, action against Syria for the use of chemical weapons seems more and more likely. We talk about the options with listeners and guests, Tim Hagle, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa, and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

Read more
River to River
1:57 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Over 200,000 people attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on 08/28/1963.
mikek7890 Flickr

Thursday, August 28, marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.  Host Ben Kieffer looks back on this historic day with Rev. Milton Cole-Duvall who attended the March when he was a 19-year-old college student and former Iowa state Rep. Wayne Ford who was an 11-year-old boy living in Washington, D.C.

Read more
River to River
4:13 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Gerontology: Policy, Abuse Prevention, and Athletics

Flo Dietz with her Senior Olympics Gold Medal in Cleveland
Catherine Dietz-Kilen

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Claudia Beverly, the Ida Cordelia Beam Visiting Professor will be in Iowa in the coming weeks.  Hear about how to ensure seniors get appropriate and quality healthcare.  You will also hear from Tracey Robertson from the Heritage Area Agency on Aging, and two notable senior athletes to talk about physical fitness.

Read more
River to River
1:40 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

Homelessness in Iowa

A man sleeps on a bench in Downtown Iowa City on July 31, 2013. Sleeping on benches between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. would violate an ordinance the city council is considering and could result in a $65 fine.
Alan Light Flickr

According to a study by the Iowa Council on Homelessness, in 2011 roughly 17,900 individuals in Iowa were homeless at some point throughout that year.  What are the causes of homelessness and what can communities do to help? Also, Iowa City has a new ordinance which aims to further restrict panhandling in the downtown area. 

Read more
River to River
2:51 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Science Literacy in Iowa

Des Moines Middle School Science Fair in February 2012.
Phil Roeder Flickr

Does drinking coffee prevent dementia? Will diet soda give you cancer?  Science and health reporting is often misleading and confusing.

Read more
River to River
3:37 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Politics Day

Canadian-born Texas Senator Ted Cruz has fueled speculation of a 2016 presidential run on the Republican ticket due to frequent visits to Iowa. However, his dual citizenship may be a political liability.
Gage Skidmore Flickr

Reconciliation, military rule or civil war--the three possible paths for Egypt. What can, or should, the U.S. do in regards to the Egyptian crisis? 

Read more
River to River
2:10 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

News Buzz: Supreme Court, Toledo, Tapeworms, Iowa Football

Jon S / NS Newsflash

Join host Ben Kieffer for this edition of River to River that quickly moves through a variety of news stories of note: implications of an Iowa Supreme Court decision, a possible new Department of Transportation app to prevent texting-and-driving, a tapeworm diet, Iowa college football, and more.

Read more
River to River
1:39 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

The World Comes to Iowa

A man biking through the rubble three months after the 2011 Japanese tsunami and earthquake that killed almost 16,000 people.
Kasper Nybo Flickr

The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 was the most costly natural disaster in the history of the world and killed almost 16,000 people.  Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Daisuke Ogata, a Japanese college student visiting Des Moines for the summer, and Mary McCarthy of Drake University to discuss how this tragic event has changed U.S.-Japan relations.

Read more
River to River
1:18 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Sexual Education In Iowa

Jeremy Wilburn / flickr

How sexually active is your teen? It turns out that 34% of Iowa high school students are currently sexually active. So what do you know about the sex-ed being taught at your kids’ school?

In the first part of our program, host Ben Kieffer learns about a nationally recognized sex education program that many Iowa schools use, which focuses on the financial impact of having a child. Then we broaden the discussion to find out what’s being taught in Iowa’s public schools and Catholic schools. What’s appropriate? What’s effective at preventing teen pregnancy?

Read more
Java Blend
12:33 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: EmJay 12/28

Tune in for a special hour with Quad City artist, EmJay.
EmJay

This Saturday, Dec. 28, at 2 PM, we'll broadcast a recent performance by EmJay on IPR Studio One's "Java Blend."

Read more
Java Blend
2:40 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Java Blend Broadcast: Love Over Gold 12/21

Tune in for a special broadcast of the new duo Love Over Gold.
Love Over Gold

This Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2 PM, we'll broadcast a recent performance by Love Over Gold on IPR Studio One's "Java Blend."

Ben Kieffer will chat with founding members Lucy Thorne and Pieta Brown throughout the broadcast to find out more about their new band.

Read more
River to River
1:15 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Remembering the Great Flood of 1993

Flooding on Iowa roads.
Dan Patterson Flickr

It's been 20 years since the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers flooded, inundating much of the Midwest for months.  Host Ben Kieffer looks back on this extensive natural disaster that affected millions of Midwesterns with IPR corespondent Dean Borg, Lester Graham who covered flooding along the Mississippi for NPR, and Bill Stowe who worked for Iowa Power and helped coordinate the isolation of Des Moines's electrical system when the Skunk River flooded the city.

Read more
River to River
12:20 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Iowa Native Devotes Life & Medical Expertise To Developing Country In Southeast Asia

Dr. Dan Murphy treats Timorese patients at the Bairo Pite Hospital
Bairo Pite Hospital http://www.bairopitehospital.org/

There’s a place in the world where 75% of the population still live in villages with no access to electricity, running water, or the Internet. That place is a little island in SE Asia, called East Timor.

Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa native Dan Murphy, who founded the Bairo Pite Hospital in the country back in 1999. Dan shares his experiences treating illness and disease in the area, and gives us an idea of why we should be focused on this little known developing country.

Read more

Pages