River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodburyLindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Ben Stanton @StantonRadio. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

This hour of River to River was recorded before a live audience at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Cedar Rapids. 

Columnists Lynda Waddington and Todd Dorman, as well as political reporter James Lynch and Erin Jordan of The Gazette, join host Ben Kieffer to discuss President Trump and the leader of North Korea, the Republican’s latest bill to overhaul Obamacare, and the value of town hall meetings in 2017. 

Casey Reyner

This show originally aired on April 26, 2017.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on presidential power, recorded Tuesday, April 25 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. 

Opinions in the audience varied, but as one participant noted: "[I] can't remember the last time we were in an auditorium talking about politics and the entire crowd didn't think just like me. We had a civil discussion with those that think differently. It can happen. There is hope."

Joyce Russell/IPR

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Sara Mitchell, F. Wendell Miller Professor of political science at the University of Iowa, and Jim McCormick, a professor at Iowa State University, about President Trump's speech yesterday to the United Nations and the debate over the health care in the Senate. 

"Trump's doctrine is America first," says Mitchell. "His other doctrine is anything but Obama, and you see him moving away from anything that was worked on by Obama." 

International Writing Program Turns 50

Sep 20, 2017
Credit Ben Kieffer

The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa is one of the university's signature programs, attracting notable authors from across the world and establishing both the university and Iowa City as paramount to the future of American literature. 

Since 1967, over 1,400 writers from more than 150 countries have come to Iowa. International Writing Program director Christopher Merrill explains how the program came about.

Jeff Peterson / Flickr

Iowa Public Radio is airing several American Public Media documentaries in place of River to River, in the brief absence of the show's host, Ben Kieffer.

Courtesy of Deanne and Ron Mirr

As of early today, the death toll from Hurricane Irma stood at 82. More than half the fatalities occurred in several hard-hit Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Florida, 1.5 million homes and businesses remained without power yesterday, in sweltering heat, five days after the historic storm ripped through southeast U.S.

Residents who evacuated have been returning to their homes to survey the damage and start the process of recovering from this massive storm.

Phil Roeder

Voter turnout is typically low for school board elections. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says turnout is usually 4-7% of registered voters.

"We can do better," says Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, "especially when you think about how there are 480-thousand K-12 kids in our public schools and it’s 60 percent of our state budget."

The Science Behind a Good Night Sleep

Sep 12, 2017
Image courtesy of Claudio Scott

Tens of millions of Americans are impacted by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety.

On this edition of River to River, Dr. Eric Dyken, director of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center, explains some of the research that is being done on the science of sleep.

"They've sort of localized a little bit more that biologic clock that is responsible for having you wake up, and having you go to sleep," Dyken says.

Emily Woodbury

Research shows that roughly five percent of the criminal population is responsible for more than half of the incidence of crime. This same group accounts for between 50 to 90 percent of the most violent crimes, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer discusses the successes and failures of our criminal justice system with Iowa State University sociologist, Matt DeLisi. 

This show originally aired on April 4, 2017.

Distracted driving concerns everyone on the road – and it’s something lawmakers at the statehouse have maintained a focus on this legislative session.

Heather Mill, Penguin Random House

The author of a new book says the race to private space exploration began with Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis. Julian Guthrie wrote How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race and the Birth of Private Spaceflight to tell the story of the Xprize and the teams competing for the $10 million prize.

Harrie van Veen / Flickr

Roughly 800,000 so called "DREAMers" came to the U.S. illegally as children. Now they face the possibility of deportation. On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts discuss the possibility of a solution from Congress.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Dave Andersen of Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College about the phasing out of DACA, as well as the international uproar over North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test, and efforts to avoid the gravest of scenarios.

In this edition of "Pints and Politics" on River to River host Ben Kieffer, and co-host Erin Jordan gather the thoughts and opinions of reporter James Lynch and columnists Todd Dorman and Lynda Waddington from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, while hoisting a pint or two with a live audience. Topics include the Trump administration's response to Hurricane Harvey and violence in Charlottesville as well as Governor Kim Reynolds' deal with Apple and the state of the Iowa gubernatorial race. The conversation takes place at the Cedar Ridge winery and distillery in Swisher.

Gage Skidmore

“Never ever lose your sense of outrage," said then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with the senator about the 2016 campaign, his plan to introduce a single-payer health care bill in September, and his new book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Sanders will speak in Iowa City August 31 at 7 p.m. at Hancher Auditorium.

Harper Collins

Author Adam Piore says he's always been interested in stories of resilience. As he was looking for the topic of his latest book, he says he realized some of the most interesting stories of resilience today are taking place through technology. The result is The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human.

Piore says technology has allowed for remarkable recoveries among people with once devastating injuries. "Now we have some of the best engineers turning their sights inward to see how the body and mind work."

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Nearly half of Republicans and those who lean Republican say they have mixed feelings about how Donald Trump conducts himself as president, and almost a fifth of the Republicans polled by Pew Research say they don’t approve of Trump’s conduct as commander-in-chief at all.

On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa navigate us through the latest on the political landscape, including the politics of disaster response and North Korea’s missile launch over Japan.

Image courtesy of Wokandapix

School districts across the country are struggling to adapt to growing school lunch debt. Many children who cannot afford their school lunches have been subjected to what is commonly referred to as "lunch shaming," which involves practices that can humiliate children in public schools who have unpaid lunch debts. One such method involves dumping a student’s lunch in the trash once they get to the cash register.

Ann Feilmann of Iowa's Department of Education says that schools participating in the National School Lunch Program are working to curb this issue.

Courtesy of Terry Dvorak

Leaders from various faith traditions across the state are getting into the spirit of solar power.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a conversation on the process and impact of a solar project in Norwalk, where more than 200 solar panels were installed St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, with Father John Ludwig and Red Lion Renewables CEO, Terry Dvorak. It’s a move to renewable energy that Father Ludwig says was inspired by Pope Francis's campaign combating climate change.

photo submitted

David Cwiertny of the University of Iowa is an expert in water quality and water resources. He's also one of 35 science and technology experts who've spent the past year working in the U.S. Congress as part of a fellowship program through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the experience in this edition of River to River.

U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

A raucous President Trump revs up supporters in Arizona, a day after a statesman-like speech addressing Afghanistan.

On this politics Wednesday edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the president’s defense of his response to violence in Charlottesville with Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Sara Mitchell of the University of Iowa.

Michael Saechang

For groups trying to affect firearms policy, what are their priorities, challenges, strategies for the future? Where is money and lobbying efforts going? What do Americans think about access to guns, and what do those view say about their own politics? In this River to River program as part of our continuing Guns in Iowa series, host Ben Kieffer gets two looks at the national gun debate.  

City Year / Flickr

It was ten days ago that violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white nationalists protesting against the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee clashed with anti-racism demonstrators.

One woman was killed when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd.

courtesy of Amy Mayer/IPR

Some astronomers and enthusiasts have been waiting years for today’s solar eclipse.  Almost all of Iowa experienced a partial eclipse, and the path of the total eclipse was further south and west. There is a small portion, a few hundred acres, of extreme southeast Iowa in that path.  

Iowa State University Professor of Astrophysics Steve Kawaler joins the conversation to talk about the eclipse. He describes the experience of a total eclipse.

The city of Des Moines could set a record for the number of homicides this year. Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department says if another homicide happens, it will be the most the city has seen in over a decade.

“Right now we are at 21, and in 2015, that was the mark we hit for the whole year, and that was the highest we’d hit since 1995. So, with so much time remaining in the year, there’s a very real possibility we’ll hit that,” says Parizek.

“We’ve had as low as 5 in a year. We tend to hover around the 7, 8, 9 range.”

Ben Kieffer

The number of permits to carry weapons has risen dramatically in Iowa.

According to numbers collected by the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa has issued more than 375,000 weapons permits since 2011. This doesn’t include professionals who are who required to carry weapons such as a police or corrections officer.

Evan Nesterak

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wenfang Tang, Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Iowa about China's ability to influence the conflict between the U.S. and North Korea. Then, Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University discusses the political fallout from President Trump's contradictory statements about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

MilitaryHealth

Nationally, more people between the ages of 15-24 are shot than any other age group. Dr. Denville Myrie, a trauma surgeon at Mercy Medical Center, says that’s true for the ER he works for in Des Moines. 

"These are young, healthy men," Myrie says. "They should not be dying. They are dying from basically stupidity; for no reason. There are so many guns on the street, and it seems like nobody cares what they can do about that." 

Steve Dinsmore

The bar-tailed godwit has an impressive flight pattern; the bird can fly from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days.

The bird normally breeds in Alaska and then flies an often non-stop migration route to New Zealand and Australia, but incredibly, one bar-tailed godwit landed south of Des Moines last week. It's the first time it has been documented in Iowa; it's only ever been documented in inland North America in Utah.

Vietnam Mobiography

In response to new UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons program, North Korea has vowed to retaliate against the U.S.  

In this politics day edition of River to River, guest host Emily Woodbury talks with political scientists, Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Scott Peters of the University of Northern Iowa, about President Trump's reaction to the developments in North Korea.  

Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa farmers are making land use decisions aimed at helping farm chemical runoff curb into streams, rivers and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s dead zone in Gulf is the biggest one ever, and Iowa’s secretary of agriculture says more changes are needed. Bill Northey says cover crops, which keep roots in the ground and prevent nutrients and soil from washing away, are a key practice. But he says statewide only about three to four percent of farmland gets a cover crop. 

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