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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Politics Day
5:03 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Politics Day: Congressmen Legacies and the Invisible Primary

Jeb Bush announced this week he's "actively exploring" a presidential run.
The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia Flickr

The invisible primary has ramped up with Jeb Bush's declaration that he is "exploring" a presidential run.

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River to River
2:53 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Controversial Rolling Stone Article May Discourage Reports of Sexual Assault

Protesters at the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity after the initial release of Rolling Stone's UVA piece
Bob Mical

The controversy over the retracted Rolling Stone story about an alleged gang rape of a student identified only as "Jackie" at a fraternity house on the University of Virginia campus has sparked many debates. On this segment of River to River - the lessons learned in journalism, ethics, and the way new media impacts how these stories are told and discussed.

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River to River
5:19 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Practices Detailed in Torture Report "not evidence-based"

Truthout.org / flickr

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture contains some very grisly findings, detailing CIA interrogation techniques, like mock execution and sleep deprivation.

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Java Blend
10:49 am
Mon December 15, 2014

The Candymakers' Recipe for Sweet Groovy Music

Download the podcast full hour with the Quad Cities' The Candymakers.

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

Listen to the podcast to find out more about The Candymakers' latest album, Ridiculicious.

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Newsbuzz
6:04 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

UI Student Claims 'Excessive Force' in Police Incident

Grayson Scogin

The refrain can be heard more than 20 times. "My hands are behind my head."

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History
4:54 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Encore Edition: Watergate's Lessons, 40 Years Later

Nixon, pictured with Leonid Brezhnev.
That Hartford Guy Flickr

Nixon resigned the office of president 40 years ago this month. But the question remains: What were the lessons of Watergate? And has our country learned them?

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Politics Day
2:51 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Implications of the Senate Committee Torture Report

U.S. Senate Committee hearing in 2013
John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

During his administration, George W. Bush said the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects was humane and legal.

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River to River
2:30 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Are We Still One Nation Under God, and Does It Matter?

The Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason billboard
Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason

Our country is very much identified as "one nation under God," however, the number of non-religious Americans has risen dramatically.

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Java Blend
9:52 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Switchback Fuses Genres Forming Pure Midwestern Sound

Download the podcast for a full hour with Switchback, an Indiana-based American Roots and Celtic Soul duo.

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

Listen to the podcast to find out more about Switchback's latest album, Kanoka.

For over two decades, the musical partnership of Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack, known as Switchback, has been entertaining audiences around the world with their unique American Roots ~ Celtic Soul blend of music. 

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Diabetes Research
4:00 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Conquer Diabetes

The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center has existed since 2009, but only found a home earlier this fall.
Oskar Annermarken Flickr

Diabetes was first named in ancient Greek civilization, but there's still much we don't know about the condition.

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News Buzz
3:58 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Clive Police Officer Sees "No Downside" to Body Cameras

VIEVU is the brand of body camera worn by Clive police officers
VIEVU

President Obama made the announcement this week that, in the aftermath of Ferguson and other cases, the White House would call for $75 million over three years to make 50,000 body cameras available to police departments across the country.

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Politics Day
5:16 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Is Government Helping or Hurting Race Relations?

Barack Obama takes the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. at the Capitol, January 20, 2009
Wikimedia Commons

There’s no denying the racial tensions flaring in the United States. The question of how to solve them, however, has yet to be answered.

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River to River
12:51 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Between Now and 2016: A Conversation with Political Analyst Charlie Cook

The White House
Wikimedia Commons

Over the course of the next two years, political analyst Charlie Cook says we could see some infighting in Congress.

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East Berlin
4:39 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

"Like Life and Death": an Iowan's Escape from East Berlin

A watchtower built in the 1980s near Trebec's home.
Hannah Trebec

Hannah Trebec grew up in East Berlin. At 20, the Berlin Wall came down and she was faced with a choice: to stay or to flee.

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Java Blend
10:18 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Greg Klyma Will Make You Laugh and Sing

Download the podcast for a full hour with singer, songwriter Greg Klyma.

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

Listen to the podcast to find out more about Klyma's latest album, Another Man's Treasure.

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Music
1:00 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Jazz Legend Al Jarreau: "I Know You, I Know What Quaker Oats Smells Like"

Ben Kieffer with Al Jarreau at the event
Mei-Ling Shaw Williams University of Iowa College of Education

Jazz legend Al Jarreau headlined the Iowa City Soul Festival in September of this year.

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History
4:03 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

Iowan 'Guest of the Revolution' Reflects on the Iran Hostage Crisis

A woman passes by the former US Embassy in Iran where students held hostages like Iowan Kathryn Koob for 444 days.
Örlygur Hnefill Flickr

35 years ago this month, we were in the first few weeks of the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis would last 444 days, and one Iowan was there for all of them.

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River to River
4:37 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Elder Financial Abuse Cost Eldora Resident His Life Savings

Although believed to be underreported, it's estimated that seniors lose approximately $2.6 billion per year due to financial abuse
Daniel Foster

While it often goes unreported, elder financial abuse costs older Americans 2 to 3 billion dollars per year.

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River to River
10:43 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Iowa Prison Population Likely to Increase

Mitchellville, Iowa
Emily Woodbury

A recent report from the Iowa Department of Human Rights indicates the number of inmates in Iowa will increase by four thousand in 10 years. The report looks at the number of people going into prison, how long they are staying, and how many people are released each year.

The Director of Research at the Iowa Department of Corrections, Lettie Prell, says prison officials have seen high numbers like this before.

“We view this forecast as being not set in stone, but as an indication of where we might be going if we don’t examine our current policies and practices."

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Java Blend
10:32 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Muckrockers' Music on the State of the Nation

Download the podcast for an hour with Iowa City locals, Muckrockers.

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

Listen to the podcast to find out more about Muckrockers' latest album, We The People.

Muckrockers are a group of working class musician-citizens aiming to illuminate and eliminate the corporate stranglehold on our government and our lives. 

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Arts and Culture
10:25 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Native Iowan One of Nation's First Pot Critics

Smokers High Life / flickr

We know movie and wine critics, but what about a career as a pot critic?

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News Buzz
5:29 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Iowa DREAMer Responds to President Obama's Announcement on Immigration

Justin Valas

The President's order to protect five million undocumented immigrants from deportation has been welcomed by some, condemned by others.

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Immigration
9:19 am
Wed November 19, 2014

How Could Immigration Reform Impact Iowa’s Economy?

The Des Moines skyline
Flickr

According to a report released earlier this year by Iowa Policy Project, immigrants make up about 4.5 percent of the state’s economic output.

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River to River
3:40 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

The Modern Harvest: Managing "by the square foot instead of by the field"

Jim Sladek and Ben Kieffer on the combine
Emily Woodbury

This year, U.S. farmers are bringing in what is expected to be a record breaking harvest. On this edition of River to River - the modern day harvest.

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Java Blend
9:46 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Mayflies Trio Brews Up Tunes To Dance To

Listen to the podcast for a full hour with a trio from the local roots rockers, The Mayflies.

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

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News Buzz
3:38 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

"Farmer Wave Week" Celebrates a Friendly Highway Gesture

Todd Collins has created a week celebrating a hands-just-slightly-off-the-wheel motion that encapsulates 'Iowa Nice.'
Paul Hamilton Flickr

Most driver-to-driver hand gestures are decidedly unwelcome. But riding along a rural road in Iowa, you might encounter a friendly one--the farmer wave.

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News Buzz
2:52 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Iowa Leading in LGBT Equality Once Again

Iowa was third in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage, but how else are Iowa cities achieving equality for their LGBT residents?
Alan Light Flickr

In the third annual Municipality Equality Index released by the Human Rights Campaign, each of the five Iowa cities measured scored above the national average.

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News Buzz
2:29 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Do Pesticides Cause Depression?

Seven pesticides commonly used by farmers may be linked to depression.
jetsandzeppelins Flickr

Mining 20 years of data, a new study by the National Institutes of Health has found a link between some pesticides and depression. 

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Health
3:52 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Encore: Migraine Science Making Strides

Sasha Wolff Wikimedia Commons

36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches, but understanding why exactly these types of headaches happen has been elusive. 

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Politics Day
4:53 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

President Obama Makes Historic Deal with China on Carbon Emissions

A historic deal regarding carbon emissions has been reached between China and the U.S.  Is it realistic?

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