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.


Java Blend
8:33 am
Thu February 26, 2015

Local Americana Group Red Rock Hill Soars with Rich Sound

Stop by The Java House for a free full hour with local group, Red Rock Hill.

What do you hear when you think Americana?

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1:25 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

New Commercial Drone Rules Released

This 'quad-copter' is one example of the unmanned aerial systems that could be used by Iowa businesses under the new FAA rules.
Budi Nusyirwan Flickr

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

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Legislative Day
12:57 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Iowa Senator: "Not a single patient has been helped" by cannabis oil policy

Mark / flickr

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.

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River to River
4:07 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Iowa Senate Considering Ban on LGBT Conversion Therapy

John Pemble

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

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Java Blend
9:27 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Firesale's New Album Draws Energetic Crowd

Download the podcast for a full hour with Davenport funk-rockers, Firesale.

Who doesn’t love a good jam? Fire Sale certainly does. 

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4:23 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

ISU Student Severely Injured After Intervening in Street Harassment

Roberts Residence Hall and Union Drive
Wikimedia Commons

A group of men were harassing a woman in Ames when bystander Cale Truhlsen of West Des Moines stepped in to try and stop it.    

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Life in Outerspace
3:00 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

Finding Life on Other Planets

What life may be hiding in the cosmos?
European Southern Observatory Flickr

The Kepler mission has found thousands of potentially habitable planets. But how can we truly know if they sustain life?

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12:38 pm
Thu February 19, 2015

New Land Trust Aims to Preserve Ground for Food Production

Contour farming and conservation tillage protect highly erodible land on a farm near Norwalk in Warren County, in central Iowa.
Lynn Betts USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Iowa’s newest land trust aims to connect young farmers looking for land with farmers looking to retire.

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Politics Day
5:39 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

2016 Contenders Looking to Build Iowa Connections

401(K)2012 / flickr

Political action committees (PACs) for presidential hopefuls are focusing on Iowa and New Hampshire - with some groups channeling up to 95% of their political donations to local politicians in the two states.

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5:25 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Ex-Felons Petition Governor Branstad for Voting Rights

League of Women Voters of California Flickr

Up until four years ago, Iowa felons were given back voting rights after finishing their prison sentences. 

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3:37 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

Mapping Hinterland: Sam Summers on Des Moines Newest Music Festival

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros playing at the bandstand in Victoria Park, East London, UK, on friday afternoon 21 August 2009.
Cjc13 Wikimedia Commons

There’s a new music festival coming to Des Moines this summer.

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Java Blend
9:18 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Korby Lenker's Sneaky Good Folk Pop

Download the podcast for a full hour with indie folk pop artist, Korby Lenker.
The TR Agency

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

In case you're not familiar, Korby Lenker is a sneaky-good songwriter. And singer. And multi-instrumentalist.

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River to River
4:18 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Derailment in Dubuque--A Reminder of the Hazards of Transporting Oil by Rail

DOT-111s make up about 70 percent of the U.S. tank car fleet
Bengt 1955 / flickr

With at least one million gallons of crude oil and ethanol passing through Iowa on a single freight train, derailments like the one last week a few miles from Dubuque are a major concern.

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Affordable Care Act
3:48 pm
Fri February 13, 2015

Health Insurance Sign-Up Deadline Sunday

screen shot

The deadline to sign up for insurance under Iowa’s health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act is Sunday. 

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3:33 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

The Legacy of Brian Williams and Jon Stewart

Left: Brian Williams (Chung Chu/flickr) Right: Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams has been suspended without pay for six months. Jon Stewart says he’s leaving The Daily Show.

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Politics Day
2:43 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

World Leaders Meet in Ukraine for "Last Chance Negotiations"

Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

Leaders around the globe are meeting in Minsk in an attempt to ease the fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Ukrainian forces over ground in Eastern Ukraine. 

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6:00 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Born Between 1957-1972? Check Your Vaccination History

Sanofi Pasteur

Measles is on the rise in the U.S. More than 100 people nationwide have been diagnosed in January alone.

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Legislative Day
4:31 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Rastetter: New Regents Funding Model Free of Political Motivations

President of the Board of Regents Bruce Rastetter
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter denies that there’s a political agenda behind a new proposed funding formula for Iowa's three state universities.

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Java Blend
9:37 am
Mon February 9, 2015

A Dirt Stompin' Good Time With Tallgrass

Download the podcast for a full hour with Iowa City locals, Tallgrass.
Image provided by artist.

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

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News Buzz
4:06 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

New Distracted Driving Law Proposed

Gerry Gaffney Flickr

The Iowa Department of Public Safety has proposed legislation that would make hand-held cell phone calls while driving illegal and would make texting while driving a primary offense. 

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1:05 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Encore: Landfilling a Long Term Commitment; What's the Alternative?

trash from an overfilled can
Lindsey Moon Iowa Public Radio

What do you throw away? Do you think about it? Do you care?

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Politics Day
5:20 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Vaccinations Become Sticking Point for 2016 Hopefuls

Childhood vaccinations have become a hot-button issue in the last week, following a measles outbreak at Disneyland and comments made by Rand Paul
Sanofi Pasteur Flickr

Earlier this week in the midst of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, Rand Paul stated that vaccinations should be voluntary.

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10:22 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Columnist Thomas Frank on Obama Disillusionment and the Wealth Gap

Obama delivering a speech at joint session of Congress with Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on February 24, 2009
Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Frank, a cultural columnist for Salon, says that President Obama’s legacy might be more about what he didn’t do when he was in office.

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River to River
4:03 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Jenny Nordberg on "The Underground Girls of Kabul"

A young girl in Herat, Afghanistan
Mohamed Somji

In parts of Afghanistan, some families without sons pick a daughter to dress and live as a boy - a practice known as bacha posh.

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Legislative Day
4:16 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Repeat Domestic Abusers Would Serve 85% of Sentence Under Governor’s Bill

Governor Terry Brandstad talking this morning at his weekly press conference about domestic violence.
Photo by John Pemble

Today Governor Terry Branstad announced the details of a bill to toughen penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders.

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Java Blend
1:15 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Snowblink Captures Nature's Music

Download the podcast for a full hour with nature-inspired and Toronto-based group, Snowblink.
Greg Slick

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

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Super Bowl 49
3:44 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Kaeding: 'No More' Superbowl Ads Not a Gimmick

Nate Kaeding kicking for the San Diego Chargers in 2008
Wikimedia Commons

Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, former NFL place kicker Nate Kaeding talks with Ben Kieffer about how the league is handling the problem of domestic violence.

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News Buzz
3:14 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

Decorah Eagles Battling to Keep Their Home

Great horned owls steal nests to raise their young.
Teddy Llovet Flickr

While the Seahawks are fighting one showdown this weekend, many across the world have their eyes on a different bird battle: Horned Owls vs. Bald Eagles.

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Diabetes Research
2:24 pm
Fri January 30, 2015

A Cure for Diabetes in the Works at UI

Scientists at the VA hospital and UI have configured adult skin cells to produce insulin in mice.
Global Panorama Flickr

Research conducted at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City VA Health Care System could one day cure diabetes.

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World War II
12:25 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Under Siege and Overtaken--an Iowan Remembers the Battle of the Bulge

Veteran George Dane with his dog tags.
Ben Kieffer Iowa Public Radio

The Battle of the Bulge ended 70 years ago this month. Iowan George Dane was caught in the middle of it.

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