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

Java Blend
5:01 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

The River Monks on "Java Blend" on 4/20/13

Credit ankenyunplugged.com

This Saturday at 2 PM, we'll broadcast a recent performance by The River Monks  on "Java Blend."

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River to River
1:37 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

The Status of Casinos in Iowa

The old Diamond Jo Riverboat Casino in Dubuque, IA. The Diamond Jo moved to a land-based facility in 2008.
Flickr / J. Stephen Conn

In 2007 the state of Iowa allowed casinos to move from riverboats to land.  Since that time several communities around the state have sought a piece of the casino action.  But how many casinos are too many for Iowa?

"River to River" looks at current casino proposals in Warren and Linn Counties.  We'll also examine why communities like Davenport and Sioux City are in the process of moving their casinos from riverboats to land.

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River to River
2:40 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Flood Levels Across Iowa

Flash floods in the Apple Valley subdivision in Solon, Iowa around 2 p.m. April 17. Neighbors stacked sand bags around basement windows and along garage doors.
Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with reporters across the state to discuss what has been happening locally.  The pipe bomb detonation in Cedar Falls, tension at the Statehouse...and an exploration of a recent Des Moines Register investigation on Iowa’s EMT services.

We also find out how the storms across Iowa will affect flood levels, by meeting with a Quad Cities National Weather Service representative and the Director of the Iowa Flood Center.

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River to River
1:28 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

A President's Reaction To Disaster

Martha Coakley / flickr

When bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, President Obama was quick to speak out, but he was extremely cautious about what he said.  Today on Politics Day, why how a president reacts matters and how the bombing might affect political priorities. Also, the latest on immigration and gun legislation.

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River to River
2:00 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Johnson County Hog Farming and CAFOs

Flickr / ekornblut

How do you stop plans for a new housing subdivision near your property? Well, how about starting a hog operation right next to it? That's exactly what some residents north of Iowa City are doing.  Today on "River to River" we'll hear from both sides of the feud.

We'll also visit a hog confinement to find out where your bacon comes from.  We'll also hear pro and con voices concerning concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs.

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Live Music Events
9:42 am
Tue April 16, 2013

"Java Blend" LIVE Event: Dave Zollo on 4/19/13

Credit Sandy Dyas

On Friday, April 19th at Iowa City's downtown Java House, IPR Studio One's Ben Kieffer will host a "Java Blend" show with Iowa rock legend Dave Zollo!

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River to River
12:11 pm
Fri April 12, 2013

Everyday Heroes

Coordinator of the Adult Literacy Center at Drake University Anne Murr, center, with Fred Dake, left, and volunteer tutor Jerry Walker, right.
John Wood, Drake School of Educaiton

What's your definition of a hero? Someone who puts themselves in harm's way?  Someone who acts selflessly?  Today on "River to River" we speak with four Iowans who have done something extraordinary and are being honored by the American Red Cross of Greater Iowa as "Heroes of the Heartland."

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River to River
2:29 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

All Things Cosmic, With Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson in Austin, TX, with Steve Kawaler (ISU) and Jacklyn R. Green (JPL)

Asteroids, galaxies, aliens, and space travel...we cover it all on this edition of River to River. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins us to weigh in on all things cosmic.

He will be in Iowa on Monday, April 15, for a lecture at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

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River to River
2:15 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Spring Precipitation And Flooding In Iowa

Cedar Rapids Flooding
Durrie Bouscaren / IPR

After all the rain this week, we get a drought and flood update to find out how our soil is fairing. Ben Kieffer talks with state climatologist, Harry Hillaker, and National Weather Service hydrologist, Marin Stofler.

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River to River
3:42 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Gender and Politics

Phil Roeder / flickr

President Obama issued an apology after saying that  California Attorney General Kamala Harris was “By far the best looking attorney general in the country.”  On River to River we’ll talk about gender and politics:  Margaret Thatcher’s legacy, and Michelle Obama’s role in a second term, moving beyond the Jimmy Fallon show. 

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River to River
1:46 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Emergency Care and "The Waiting Room"

Certified Nurse Assistant Cynthia Y. Johnson at Highland Hospital in "The Waiting Room"
"The Waiting Room" film

The Waiting Room is an award-winning documentary about an emergency department in Oakland California.  We talk with the director and producer of the film Peter Nicks who is visiting Iowa.  We’ll also explore the challenges in Iowa’s ERs, and how The Affordable Care Act will change emergency care. 

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River to River
9:37 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Ira Flatow and Dark Matter

Flickr / NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Science Friday Host Ira Flatow discusses the art of science journalism.  Flatow will be in Des Moines next week as part of Iowa Public Radio's Insight Series

Also, astrophysicist Philip Kaaret from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University astronomer Steven Kawaler explain dark matter.

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River to River
12:40 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Above the Din of War

Journalist Peter Eichstaedt with his police escort in Marja, Helmand Province, a province in southern Afghanistan, in April 2011.
Peter Eichstaedt

"River to River" sits down with journalist Peter Eichstaedt to talk about his new book "Above the Din of War" which examines the results of the war in Afghanistan through the eyes of the Afghan people.

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Java Blend
3:33 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Ben Cook-Feltz on Java Blend Saturday, April 6, 2013

Credit Corby Ortmann

The best way to describe Ben Cook-Feltz's music may be, “Paul Simon singing piano ballads about broken hearts, and pants, to thunderous percussion.” A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Cook-Feltz has spent the past seven years living in Minneapolis, performing throughout the state and metro area with a variety of backing ensembles, large and small, sure and unsure.

This Saturday at 2 PM, we'll re-broadcast his percussive "Java Blend" performance from October of 2011.

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River to River
1:06 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Tensions Rise with North Korea

U.S. Army armored vehicle in South Korea, Feb. 2008
Expert Infantry / flickr

The U.S. Navy is shifting a guided-missile destroyer to waters off the Korean peninsula. This comes in the wake of ongoing aggressive rhetoric from North Korea. On this Politics Day, we ask Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College to share their political analysis of the situation. We also cover the other international hotspots in the news.

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River to River
1:41 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

When Severe Weather Strikes

Empty lot in Joplin, where house once stood.
Liam Kieffer

In May of 2011, Joplin Missouri was hit by the deadliest single tornado since record keeping began in 1950.  After that disaster, the National Weather Service evaluated their warning system and public response to it.  That led to a more specific warning system that went into effect in Iowa on April 1.  Today we hear from two Iowa National Weather Service meteorologists about the new “impact-based” warning system. We also listen back to our conversation last year with storm chaser Jeff Piotrowski and his firsthand account of the Joplin tornado.

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Live Music Events
11:51 am
Mon April 1, 2013

"Java Blend" LIVE Event: Brother Trucker at El Bait Shop on 4/3/13

Credit brotrucker.com

Host Ben Kieffer will hold a special "Java Blend" On The Road event with Brother Trucker at El Bait Shop in Des Moines this Wednesday, April 3!

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River to River
2:43 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

American Winter

TJ, one of the parents whose story is featured in "American Winter," praying with his little boy
Credit http://www.americanwinterfilm.com/

Though the Great Recession ended in 2009, families that were once considered middle-class still struggle to get by.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with filmmaker and University of Iowa graduate Devon Terrill about her new documentary “An American Winter,” which profiles eight families who fell out of the middle class during the Great Recession.  IPR's Sandhya Dirks tells us about the push to get an Iowa inmate's sentence commuted.  And is your NCAA pool legal?  Geoff Greenwood from the Iowa Attorney General's Office outlines the regulations governing social gambling.

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River to River
1:28 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

The Supreme Court of Iowa

John Pemble

As our nation's Supreme Court considers two major cases concerning same-sex marriage this week, the Iowa Supreme Court is also grappling with major issues that will affect how Iowans live, love and work.  Today on "River to River" we'll talk about four high-profile cases this session before Iowa's Supreme Court with University of Iowa Law School professors Song Richardson and Todd Pettys as well as legal blogger and litigator Ryan Koopmans.

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River to River
3:46 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Politics Day: The Genetics of Politics

wikimedia.org

Political arguments can easily become heated and emotional.  But what if your political rival has a genetic predisposition to view the world differently than you?  On River to River, can politics be explained through biology?  We hear two perspectives in that academic debate.  We also talk with the chairs of the Iowa GOP and the Iowa Democrats about how they came to their beliefs.

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Java Blend
3:31 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Tiff Jimber on Java Blend Saturday, March 30, 2013

This is not your average piano girl. Singer-songwriter Tiff Jimber holds nothing back when she plays, smashing out rhythms and dancing on her toes. Consistently compared to Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds, this lady showcases her diverse jazz and classical training in catchy pop songs conjured up by her influences, Billy Joel, John Mayer, Nina Simone, and Adele.

River to River
1:27 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

National Security Analyst Brian Katulis on the Middle East

Flickr / The U.S. Army

More than 60,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan. What hurdles does the US face as that international military operation winds down? Today on "River to River" National Security Analyst Brian Katulis from the Center for American Progress will talk about US withdraw from Afghanistan.  He'll also comment on the status of Iraq, ten years after the start of the Iraq War.

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Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 23, 2013

Rebecca Rego on Java Blend Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seconds marks the fourth studio record for Rebecca Rego since 2006. Derek Beres of "Mindful Metropolis" says "There is no doubt that Rebecca Rego is a poetess, given the strength of these ten fine songs. The focus is certainly her voice, by way of her lyrical nature, itself in no way ambiguous."

River to River
12:24 pm
Fri March 22, 2013

The Growing Iowa Beer Industry

geekgirl24 / flickr

Nearly one new brewery opens every day in the United States and a new Gallup poll shows Americans prefer beer over wine, with craft beer enjoying a double-digit growth in popularity. In an encore presentation of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the growth of Iowa breweries and their impact on the state’s economy with several members of the Iowa brew industry. 

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River to River
3:10 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Combat veterans helped by service dogs

Nicole Shumate

Thousands of veterans have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. Nightmares or flashbacks, angry outbursts, and hyper vigilance are common symptoms. In addition, many veterans also have to learn to live with physical injuries. A Des Moines-based not-for-profit called Paws & Effect is helping some Iowa veterans live better lives by training and placing psychiatric service and mobility dogs.

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Java Blend
12:00 pm
Sat March 16, 2013

Mutts on Java Blend Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mutts are a keyboard-centric, mercurial band often described as a unique blend of Tom Waits and Nirvana. Although keyboards drive their sound, Mutts draw comparisons to bluesy rockers likes Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys for music that is alternately danceable, psychedelic, and heavy.

They have opened for artists such as Maps & Atlases and Psychic Twin and recently performed at the Do Division Fest in Chicago. Their latest album Separation Anxiety was on the CMJ Top 200 for six consecutive weeks.

River to River
1:22 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

A.J. Jacobs On Experimenting Your Way To Perfection

Benjamin Thomas / flickr

He read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica. He outsourced his life to India. After that he lived for one year according to all the moral codes expressed in the Bible. Today on River to River, a conversation with author A.J. Jacobs. We’ll find out about his year of living biblically and his latest lifestyle experiment - exploring different ways to reach peak health.

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River to River
1:46 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

College Towns

Flickr / Sarah Cady

Recently Ames was ranked as the second best college town in the US by the American Institute of Economic Research's 2013 College Destination Index.   Iowa City came in close behind at fourth place.   What goes into making a great college town?  On "River to River" we talk about the attributes and special challenges of these communities.

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River to River
1:30 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Politics Day: International Concerns

assortedstuff / flickr

As drones proliferate and become more sophisticated, what questions does this raise in the international arena? Do drones present challenges we’ve never faced before?

It's politics day here on the program, and this hour we cast our analysis to the world outside our border. We take a look at how new technology, drones and cyber attacks, are shaping international politics. Also, updates on Syria, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan. Our analysts are Lindsay Cohn, of the University of Northern Iowa, and Jim McCormick, of Iowa State University.

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River to River
2:20 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Legislative Check-In: Rep. Dave Loebsack & Rep. Burce Braley

Jonathon Colman / flickr

Sequestration, immigration, drones, gun legislation…

Today on River to River, we continue our discussions with Iowa’s elected representatives in Washington. First, a conversation with Congressman Dave Loebsack of Iowa’s second district. Then, we’ll be joined by Congressman Bruce Braley of the first district.

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