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
1:39 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

Revisiting the Best and Worst Jobs of 2013

Roughnecks working on a drilling rig in Greeley, Colorado in 2008.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

For 25 years CareerCast.com has ranked the best and worst jobs. Their rating is based on physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. 

Host Ben Kieffer revisits conversations with a biomedical engineer and an audiologist, two jobs that made the best list.  He also speaks to an oil rig worker and a newspaper reporter, two jobs on the worst list.

Read more
Health
2:40 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Gut Check: The Hidden Impact of Microbes

Jeremy Brooks

As we prepare to feast over the holidays and give our digestive systems a workout, there are millions of bacteria at work inside our bodies. Today on River to River, we talk about gut health and the bacteria and parasites that can reside in our digestive system.

In the first half, host Ben Kieffer checks in with Iowa State University's Tim Day, who is researching ways to alter a parasite that infects hundreds of millions of people in developing nations.

Read more
News Buzz
1:34 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Icy Roads, Bad Signing, Dogs, Odd Animals, and 99 Marathons

Evan Long

In this News Buzz show we talk with state maintenance engineer for the Iowa DOT Bob Younie about the winter driving conditions for today and the weekend, State Certified Sign Language Interpreter Lindsey Kang about what makes for good sign language, Captain Jim Steffen from the Iowa City Police Department about protecting police dogs, Dennis Lee and Daren Schumaker from Team 99 Counties, and The Des Moines Register's Kyle Munson about his coverage of odd stories about animals this year.

Read more
IPR Insight Series
1:42 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Politics and a Pint with Don Gonyea

Don Gonyea and Ben Kieffer at "Politics and a Pint" in downtown Des Moines
John Pemble

Taped on Tuesday 12/17/13 as part of the IPR Insight Series, this is a special edition of River to River with NPR’s Don Gonyea, recorded before a live audience in Des Moines. Host Ben Kieffer asks Gonyea about the 2013 political year, his career, and his connection to Iowa. IPR also tests Gonyea’s Iowa knowledge with a bit of trivia.

Top five moments and quotes from the night:

Read more
Politics Day
4:22 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Moments and Movements That Defined 2013 Politics

Newfrontiers

Host Ben Kieffer is joined by Drake University's Dennis Goldford for a look at the political topics that held the attention of the country this year: immigration reform, gun laws, Edward Snowden and the NSA, a government shutdown, the Obamacare rollout, and big changes develop for the future of the Iowa political landscape.

Read more
Neuroscience
12:11 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain

Stephen Hampshire

The criminal brain has always held a fascination for neuroscientist James Fallon.  A few years ago, he inadvertently discovered his brain scan perfectly matched a pattern that he’d found in the brains of serial killers. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Fallon.

Read more
River to River
3:57 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Stalking, An Invisible Crime

Pasi Pitkänen

River to River revisits the important subject of criminal stalking.

Though stalking became a crime in the state of Iowa in 1994, it’s a difficult charge since in many ways stalking is an “invisible" crime.  Often, victims of stalking have a hard time proving they are being terrorized.

Read more
News Buzz
2:22 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Cameras, Compromise, 'Codone, 'The Catch,' and Cold

A snow angel
Alan Light

In this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River, hear about new rules for traffic cameras in Iowa, a stopgap farm bill passed in the U.S. House, a new hydrocodone-related drug which is meeting opposition from Iowa's Attorney General, the Hawkeyes will meet LSU, and what's with the early bout of cold weather?

Read more
Iowa History
3:08 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

1933: Prohibition Ends, Bonnie and Clyde Visit Iowa

Bonnie and Clyde
Photo courtesy of Rod Stanley

This holiday season, you may be celebrating with champagne, wine, or beer. It’s hard to believe, but it was just 80 years ago when Prohibition was repealed, and drinking alcohol became legal again. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with historian Tim Walch to find out what it was like to live in Iowa during the Prohibition era.

In the second half of the program - A Bonnie and Clyde miniseries appeared on television this week. Did you know that in 1933, there was a famous shootout involving the famous duo? Historian Rod Stanley shares the details.

Read more
Politics Day
2:26 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Politics Day

Bipartisan congressional negotiators have unveiled a long-awaited budget framework to fund the government past mid-January and stabilize the government's finances into the near future. But does it have enough support to pass?

Host Ben Kieffer asks our analysts, Bruce Nesmith of Coe College and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa, what they think of it. Also, the world salutes the passing of Nelson Mandela, and takes note of a handshake between President Obama and the Cuban President.

Read more
Transportation
3:03 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Legislative Priorities and Roundabouts

Washington State Deptartment of Transportation

This program includes  hearing from one Iowa community that has incorporated new roundabouts aimed at easing traffic flow, and state lawmakers talk about what projects might be in store for the state, and how they might want to fund those projects. A House Republican and a Senate Democrat find agreement on one aspect of the issue: the gas tax.

Read more
Climate Science
3:40 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Extreme Weather in the Midwest

Durrie Bouscaren / IPR

In the period between 2008 and 2012, Iowa experienced a record amount of flooding and variability in rainfall, leading to damage that cost the state billions. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer asks how climate change is impacting extreme weather patterns, the economic impact, and, how we in Iowa can best prepare for the years to come.

Want more information?

Read more
River to River
2:01 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

News Buzz: Military Contracts

Technician Chrys Strauss works on a circuit board in the J-Tec lab.
Durrie Bouscaren

Host Ben Kieffer covers a number of topics in a roundup of the week's news including a conversation with Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Rapids reporter Durrie Bouscaren on how Iowa military contractors have been affected by the s

Read more
River to River
12:53 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Ironman John Little

61-year-old Iowa City resident John Little biking in his 13th Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, Mexico.
Property of John Little.

While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers, 61-year-old Iowa City resident John Little was completing his 13th Ironman Triathlon in Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan Peninsula.

An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, followed by a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and ends with a marathon, which is a 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run. There are no breaks between each leg of the race. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Little to discuss his extreme hobby, which he took up at the age of 55.

Read more
Politics Day
4:08 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

China's New Air Defense Zone and the U.S. Political Divide

A Coast Guard patrol vessel passes by Uotsuri, the largest island in the Senkaku/Diaoyu chain.
Al Jazeera English

The US and Japan have refused to recognize an air defense zone above tiny islands that China and Japan both claim. Today on River to River, we find out what is behind the dispute and what escalation would mean. Also, a look at how politics abroad are affecting politics at home, and whether our country's deeply divided political system could drive some areas of the U.S. to seek more independence. Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa State University political scientists, Jim McCormick and Steffen Schmidt.

Read more
Health Care
2:45 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Health Insurance Updates

Christopher Penn

Two months after its disastrous launch, government officials say HealthCare.gov is now working 90 percent of the time and can handle the promised capacity of 50,000 users at any given time. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with public policy experts, Pete Damiano and Dan Shane, as well as Wellmark's Blue Cross Blue Shield CFO David Brown. Then, Des Moines psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Vista-Wayne discusses the mental health provisions added to the Affordable Care Act.

Read more
River to River
2:51 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

How Humans Tolerate Cold Weather

Inuit child sailing his toy boat with caribou-skin sails.
Library and Archives Canada

Humans developed in warm climates, but eventually our ancestors made their way into colder and more inhospitable regions.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with physiologist Kevin Kregel and anthropologist Robert Franciscus of the University of Iowa about how humans have acclimated to cold and challenging environments.

Read more
River to River
2:08 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Blood and Bone Marrow Donation

A man donating blood
European Parliament

How likely are you to donate blood? Are you more motivated if you were given something in exchange for donating? A t-shirt? Maybe an umbrella?  How about a 15-dollar gift card?  On this River to River, Ben Kieffer talks a little about how our behavior is affected by the financial incentive to donate. But also the larger picture of how blood is processed, and how blood centers work to reduce the risks for recipients.  

Read more
River to River
4:37 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

The Future of Medical Marijuana in Iowa

Medical Cannabis Growing Operation in Oakland, California
Rusty Blazenhoff

Illinois recently became the 20th state to legalize medical marijuana. And, some in Iowa are pushing for a similar initiative. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa patients and families who believe cannabis to be an effective medicine for their suffering. He talks with medical professionals about the benefits and the concerns of using the drug as medicine. And, State Senator Joe Bolkcom and Iowa’s drug policy coordinator Steve Lukan give a preview of how this issue will play out in the upcoming Iowa legislative session.

Read more
River to River
2:44 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Remembering the Kennedy Assassination and the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

President John F. Kennedy addressing the nation from the Oval Office during the Berlin Crisis on July 25th, 1961.
U.S. Embassy New Delhi

Iowa Public Radio listeners share their memories of the death of President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.  Also historian Tom Schwartz of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum joins the conversation to share his own reflections of the event and to discuss the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Read more
River to River
2:13 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

News Buzz: Ethanol and Harvest Wrap Up

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline.
Stefanie Seskin

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline. As a renewable fuel ethanol reduces the amount of petroleum-based gasoline on the market and many farmers receive subsidies to grow corn for the biofuel. But now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a reduction in the required amount of ethanol for the country's gasoline supply.  Harvest Public Media's Ames-based reporter Amy Mayer and host Ben Kieffer discuss the future of ethanol in the U.S.

Read more
River to River
5:33 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Iowans Remember John F. Kennedy

President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at Love Field in Dallas, TX, 22 November 1963
Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Fifty years ago, the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. Today on River to River, we remember Kennedy by talking with Iowans who remember that tragic day.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason, as well as former congressman Jim Leach, Senator Charles Grassley, Representative Dave Loebsack, presidential historian Tim Walch, and IPR's own Dean Borg, tell us where they were and share their thoughts about the national tragedy fifty years ago.

Read more
Politics Day
3:28 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Presidential Ebb and Flow

President Herbert Hoover saw his popularity plummet after the stock market crash, and has ranked as one of the least popular presidents in history.
Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Every presidency ebbs and flows.  President Obama seems to be going through an ebb, as his job approval rating drops to the lowest of his presidency.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch, former Director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and Donna Hoffman, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science at University of Northern Iowa, about the ebb and flow of presidencies through history, and what they can tell us about presidential popularity today.

Read more
River to River
2:03 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Robert Reich: Income Disparity

Robert Reich
HarvardEthics / flickr

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich joins host Ben Kieffer to talk about the film "Inequality for All," in which Reich outlines what he sees as an economic and social problem due to a growing disparity in Americans' incomes. In the second half of the show, hear some analysis of the issue and get an Iowa perspective. 

Read more
River to River
1:32 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

News Buzz: Obamacare Fix and Cholesterol Guidelines

Iowa State Univeristy professor Matt DeLisi testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about recommendations to reduce the prison population.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake. 

Read more
River to River
4:21 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Reuniting Families Through Court

Billie Hara

This segment of River to River features a volunteer-run court in Iowa - the Johnson County Family Treatment Court - that works with parents who suffer from substance abuse. Host Ben Keiffer sits down with a recent graduate of the court, a mother who formerly struggled with a meth addiction while trying to raise her son.

Read more
River to River
4:05 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Iowa's Filipino American Community and Typhoon Haiyan

Nemesia Tipait (81) was buried under the rubble of her house when it collapse during the typhoon in Barangay Kayang, Bogo City, Cebu. Neighbors rescued her and hope to rebuild her hut.
EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection World Vision

Yesterday the aircraft carrier the U.S.S. George Washington arrived off the coast of the Philippines to deliver aid to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.  The U.N. says that almost half a million people have been displaced and it is feared that as many as 10,000 have perished.

Dr. Rosa Reyes, the business manager for the Filipino American Association, and Filipino immigrant Mary Sherrill of Waukee talk with Ben Kieffer about how the typhoon has affected the Filipino community here in Iowa. 

Read more
Politics Day
3:25 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Jim Leach and the State of Politics

Jim Leach speaking in Coralville November 11, 2013
David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen

Getting “primaried” has become a dreaded verb in politics. Host Ben Kieffer talks  about intraparty rivalry and the partisan rancor in Washington with former U.S. Congressman Jim Leach. Also, analyst Jim McCormick of Iowa State University joins the conversation with a wide array of policy discussion and political philosophy.

Read more
Religious Studies
3:39 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Bible Secrets Revealed with Robert Cargill

Robert Cargill in Qumran Cave 4, the most famous of the Dead Sea Scroll caves
Yuval Peleg

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with University of Iowa archeologist and religious scholar, Robert Cargill. They discuss Cargill’s trip to Israel with UI students for an excavation of Tel Azekah, as well as his latest project - a six-part documentary called “Bible Secrets Revealed.” It begins airing this week on the History Channel, starting Wednesday November 13 at 9 p.m.

Read more
U.S. Financial Industry
3:29 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Suku Radia on the Financial Crisis

Emmanuel Huybrechts

In this segment of River to River, the CEO of Banker's Trust, Suku Radia, joins host Ben Kieffer to talk about lessons learned from the U.S. financial crisis and the federal deficit. They also discuss Radia's personal success, a kind of "rags to riches" story.

Radia will speak at Iowa State University on Thursday, November 14 at 11 a.m. His talk is called "Banking: An Industry in  Crisis – Is It Over Yet?”

Read more

Pages