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.

Ways To Connect

John Pemble

Iowa has a law mandating life in prison without parole for teen killers, but this law is deemed unconstitutional by both the U.S. and the Iowa Supreme Courts.

A proposal moving through Iowa’s legislature would modify the state’s current law mandating life in prison for juveniles convicted of murder. The legislation gives judges three sentencing options. One of those options is still life in prison without parole.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" join host Ben Kieffer as he chats with Des Moines-based pop artist, Damon Dotson. 

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

Last night, swimming history was made in Iowa City. David Nolan of Texas swam the fastest 200-yard individual medley in history. It took him only one minute and thirty nine seconds to swim eight lengths of the pool doing four different strokes. 

For the first time in decades, Iowa is host to the NCAA men's Swimming and Diving Championships. On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Marc Long, University of Iowa's men and women swimming and diving coach about the significance of the event.

Nepal Gateway Trekking / Flickr

Marijuana is often branded as harmless by its proponents, but according to the 2012 Iowa Drug Report, 26% of Iowans seeking drug treatment cite the plant as their drug of choice. Ned Presnall, keynote speaker of the upcoming Governor's Conference on Substance Abuse, says decriminalization has led to decreased perceptions of risk.

Emily Woodbury

March is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) awareness month. TBI has been called a silent epidemic. In many cases, resulting injuries are not visible to others, and it affects more than 95,000 Iowans.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ted Cruz officially announced his presidential bid Monday.

"Over and over again when we faced impossible odds, the American people rose to the challenge. You know compared to that, repealing Obamacare and abolishing the IRS ain't all that tough," Cruz said.

Tim Lucas / flickr

"We gain so much more when we focus on people’s positives," says lawyer, speaker, and freelance disability consultant, Matan Koch.

Koch will speak at Coe College the evening of March 24. Ahead of his appearance, Ben Kieffer talks with Koch about how to encourage the talent, purchasing power, and experience of the disability community.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa Senate is unlikely to take up the issue of collective bargaining, so why did the House debate it until 10 PM last Tuesday?

State Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, felt that the bill was a distraction from the bigger issue of school funding.

"They are waiting to know what their funds will be for this upcoming school year and we felt like this entire bill was a distraction and that's why we totally opposed it," Steckman says.

But State Rep. Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, says that these processes sometimes take years. 

What do you hear when you think Americana?

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

Does the Iowa Constitution protect the right to a so-called telemed abortion? That’s a question currently before the Iowa Supreme Court.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Todd Pettys, Associate Dean for Faculty and H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law, and Ryan Koopmans, attorney at Nyemaster Goode law firm in Des Moines.

Whatsername? / flickr

Iowa ranks as one of the highest binge drinking states in the country.

And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the yearly cost from excessive alcohol consumption in Iowa is about $2 billion.

Sarah Viren

Imagine you are married and have a daughter. When your spouse gets a job in another state, you plan for everything - including the fact that your new state does not recognize your same-sex marriage.

Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Sarah Viren about her move from Iowa City to Lubbock, Texas, recounted in her essay, “How to Unmarry Your Wife."

In this episod of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" host, Ben Kieffer chats with The Delta Routine about their latest album, You and Your Lion.

Have you ever wondered which songs your state representative puts on repeat?

Iowa Public Radio’s Bob Dorr asked himself that question after State Representative Scott Ourth from Warren County reached out to him through social media.

Wikimedia Commons

The 2015 Cancer in Iowa report released today shows a drastic jump in the number of cases of skin cancer in the state.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

This week, 47 GOP senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst, signed an open letter to Iran saying any nuclear deal struck with the US would be “nothing more than an executive agreement.”

Photo by Kris Krüg / Pop!Tech

Laurie Garrett says that when Thomas Duncan came down with Ebola in Texas, national media coverage became "over the top."

Penn State / flickr

NPR legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg, has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for many years, translating court cases and generating interest in the judicial system with audiences all over the country.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

State lawmakers are working to advance a bill that would legalize sound suppressors for guns and allow children of any age to handle a gun under parental supervision, among other measures.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" join host Ben Kieffer while he chats with Colorado-based bluegrass band, Head for the Hills.

Bret Hartman / TED Conference / flickr

David Gallo is a pioneer in mapping ocean terrain.

Jonathon Colman

A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans (71%) now say the war in Iraq “wasn’t worth it.” That’s similar to sentiments from the Vietnam era about that conflict.

Caleb Smith / Speaker John Boehner via Flickr

Netanyahu stressed Iran’s “radical” regime, saying there is no difference between the country and ISIS in terms of “imposing a militant Islamic empire.”

Iowa DNR

Water use in Iowa has climbed 72% since the 1970’s, and according to state officials, current usage rates are unsustainable. 

Alex Heuer

Iowa’s new state penitentiary in Fort Madison is still empty, and now officials are worried about frozen pipes.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Sheriff's officers across the state say there aren't enough beds for Iowa's mentally ill, and some lawmakers are joining their cause.

Summer Osborne is out to change the world one soul at a time with her music.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" join host Ben Kieffer as he chats with the Illinois-based spiritual artist.

Budi Nusyirwan / Flickr

This month the Federal Aviation Administration released proposed guidelines for commercial unmanned aerial systems—commonly known as ‘drones.’

Mark / flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Last year's legislation that decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy has not changed much for Iowa patients hoping to use the drug for treatment.

John Pemble

So-called conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian youth.

Pages