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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Java Blend
9:53 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Bright Giant

Tune in and download the podcast for a full hour with Des Moines-based Bright Giant.
Stan Brewer

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" from 2012 host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Iowa natives, Bright Giant.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the band's unique blend of indie pop.

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River to River: From the Archives
1:32 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Complications with Diagnosing Depression

Amanda Hatfield

Today's River to River examines the diagnosis of depression, treatment options, and the possibility of prescribing anti-depressants to people with mild symptoms of depression or even merely sadness. Guests also evaluate how depression in farmers is treated and viewed differently than others.

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River to River: From the Archives
12:13 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Growing Old and Dying in Prison

Iowa Medical and Classification Center at the Oakdale Prison near Coralville.
Ben Stanton

Today we listen back to a show, part of Iowa Public Radio's corrections series last summer, about what it is like to grow old and die in prison.

We hear from an offender who works in a hospice program. He has helped 20 fellow inmates face the end of life behind bars. Host Ben Kieffer also talk with a 74-year-old inmate about growing old. We also tour a hospice room at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville.

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Java Blend
8:51 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Dave Olson

Tune in and download the podcasts for all of our upcoming summer encores from 2012.

In this encore episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend" from 2012 host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Dave Olson.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the Twin Cities-based artist.

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River to River: From the Archives
11:43 am
Mon June 16, 2014

An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

The deli counter at Hy-Vee
Emily Woodbury

The battle surrounding meat and livestock production ranks among the longest-waged and hardest fought in American history. Today on River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with historian and author, Maureen Ogle. Her new book is titled In Meat We Trust.

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News Buzz
2:19 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

"Iowa Pints" a Guide for Iowa's Brewery Boom

Iowa Pints release party flier
Facebook

Iowa brewer and author Jay Wilson first gained notoriety for his all-beer lenten fast.  Now he's back with a guide to help beer enthusiasts navigate Iowa's brewery boom.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about his book, Iowa Pints due out June 12th.

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River to River: From the Archives
1:56 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Fascination with the Idea of "Apocalypse"

Des Moines' Fourth Annual "Zombie Walk"
Emily Woodbury

Many of this year’s blockbusters, video games, and books are set in post-apocalyptic worlds - a growing trend in the past few years.

Today on River To River, we take a look at why this is such a common theme. Host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowans who are prepared to face an apocalyptic scenario, and he sits down with an Iowa Homeland Security representative, to find out how prepared the state of Iowa is for disaster.

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News Buzz
1:53 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

"Unprecedented" Settlement Could Mean Jail Time for Elder DeCoster

freefoodphotos.com

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Seattle, Washington food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented some of those sickened in a 2010 salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated eggs.  This week a settlement was reached with Quality Egg and two of its top executives, Jack and Peter DeCoster.  Marler says Jack DeCoster comes to the court with a "checkered past," that could make jail time more likely in this case.

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Java Blend
1:23 pm
Sat June 7, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Dan Dimonte and the Bad Assettes

Tune in for Dan Dimonte and his Bad Assettes with a full hour of multi-faceted, homegrown music.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Iowa City's own, Dan Dimonte and the Bad Assettes.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the making of their new fusion of inspired jazz.

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News Buzz
3:55 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Regents Change University Funding Structure

The Iowa Board of Regents has adopted a plan to change how state funding is allocated to Iowa's three Regents' universities.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with IPR's Dean Borg about the factors that will be used to set future funding levels, including numbers of in-state students and graduation rates.

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News Buzz
3:33 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

Repel Bugs, Gnat-urally

Bug Soother

This spring, Freda Sojka says there's only one way to describe her business: busy. 

She's the brains behind the bug repellent "Bug Soother," that has become overwhelmingly popular over the last few years in Iowa. She says she discovered the recipe for the repellent by accident. “My grandson was at my house, and I didn’t want to put anything on him with DEET in it. I threw a few things together, and it worked.”

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River to River
3:22 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Air Quality Concerns: Are Coal Plants to Blame?

Southend, a Muscatine neighborhood that borders the Grain Processing Corporation and Muscatine Power and Water coal plants
Adam Burke

For decades, U.S. climate change policy has amounted to, "Do as I say, not as I do." However, this week President Obama announced its boldest step yet to reduce carbon emissions. The President wants to reduce carbon emission from power plants by 30% by the year 2030.

Today on River to River, what these guidelines mean for Iowa.

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Politics Day
5:34 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Analysis on Iowa's Primary Results

Newfrontiers https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

Three open congressional seats from Iowa are up for grabs in this November’s midterm elections – a very rare occurrence in Iowa politics!

Today on River to River, an analysis of last night's primary results for those races. Joining host Ben Kieffer are guests Kathie Obradovich, of the Des Moines Register, and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa.

Ben asks them about the candidates’ strengths, possible weaknesses, and he has them ponder campaign strategies each camp is likely to employ leading up to November.

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Health
4:52 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Nick Rhoades Talks His HIV Conviction and What Comes Next

Nick Rhoades in Iowa Public Radio's Des Moines studio
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

In 2009 when Nick Rhoades was convicted of the criminal transmission of HIV and sentenced to 25 years in prison and lifetime listing as a sex offender, the news upended his life. He attempted suicide and had a breakdown that landed him in the University of Iowa Hospital's psychiatric ward for weeks. He spent what he describes as nine "hellish months" in jail and four in prison before his was granted relief from his sentence.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

When Politics and Religion Meet

The phrase, separation of church and state, "doesn't clarify as much as it obscures," says Dennis Goldford of Drake University
Wyoming_Jackrabbit / flickr

State money is helping to build a new Christian park in Sioux City. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a Satanic statue will be erected outside a courthouse, next to the Ten Commandments.

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Java Blend
3:49 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Natalie Brown and Mirage

Tune in for a fresh-brewed hour of music with Natalie Brown and Mirage.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with Iowa native, Natalie Brown and her new band Mirage.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the making of their new fusion of inspired jazz.

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News Buzz
1:59 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

News Buzz: Iowa's VA Hospitals, Recapping the GOP Primary Debate, Court Reporters

Eric Shinseki
Wikimedia Commons

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has resigned his post in the wake of a series of scandals at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country. During this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Des Moines Register Health Care Reporter Tony Leys about how the announcement could affect Iowa's VA hospitals. He also tells us about a possibly mismanaged case at the Iowa City VA

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News Buzz
11:36 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Marshalltown Native Toby Huss to Appear in New AMC Series

John Bosworth (Toby Huss) and Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace)
Photo by James Minchin III/AMC

Marshalltown native Toby Huss’ latest project reaches back into history into the burgeoning computer revolution of the 1980’s, when IBM was out in from of the PC wars. The new series, AMC’s Half and Catch Fire, premiers this Sunday.

Huss, along with a small group of people at a midlevel computer company in Texas called Cardiff Electric, try to reverse engineer an IBM PC, steal the technology and improve upon it. He talks with host Ben Kieffer about the new series. 

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News Buzz
5:34 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Do You Live Along I-35?

New York Times reporter Damien Cave and photographer Todd Heisler are spending the summer driving north along Interstate 35. Why? They're hoping to paint a picture of how immigration is transforming communities along that route. Cave is normally based in Mexico City, Mexico and says in the week they’ve spent traveling north through Texas, they’re already hearing drastically different ideas about immigration and Mexican culture has changed certain communities in the United States.

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River to River
5:15 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Self-Driving Cars: No Longer Science Fiction

epSos .de / flickr

Decades ago, researchers dreamed about cars that could park themselves and avoid accidents. And now, it’s no longer science fiction.

Today on River to River, a look at the latest transportation-related news. We look at modern advances to our transportation systems, including self-driving cars, an update on the controversy surrounding traffic cameras in Iowa, the effects of cannabis on a driver, the hazards of all-terrain vehicles, and efforts by the Iowa DNR to crack down on drinking while driving on the water.

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2014 Voter Guide
12:17 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Candidate Profile: Scott Schaben

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Schaben
Credit ScottSchaben.com

Read this candidate profile of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Schaben. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

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Agriculture
12:11 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Espionage in a Corn Field

Kernels of corn. About a third of Iowa's land (12 million-plus acres) is used to grow corn each year, making Iowa the national leader in corn production in most years.
Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Last week, the U.S. Government indicted Chinese government hackers on charges of stealing trade secrets, claiming that the espionage has gone too far. When it comes to intellectual property, the internet isn’t the only place the Chinese are looking for U.S. trade secrets.

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2014 Voter Guide
11:04 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Candidate Profile: Mark Jacobs

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs
Credit Iowa GOP

Read this candidate profile of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Jacobs. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

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2014 Legislative Session
2:04 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Governor Branstad to Sign Bills on Cannabis Oil and HIV Transmission, but REAP Funding in Question

Governor Terry Branstad
John Pemble IPR

A bill legalizing the possession and medical use of cannabis oil for epilepsy patients passed the Iowa House and Senate.  But will the Governor sign it?  In this News Buzz edition of the show, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Governor Terry Branstad about the loose ends from the 2014 legislative session and which bills will or will not gain his signature.

 

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News Buzz
5:22 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Virtual Reality for Chickens

Courtesy of Austin Stewart

Would you eat the eggs of a hen lost in virtual reality?

On this River to River segment - a proposal by Austin Stewart of Iowa State University to give real, captive chickens a true virtual experience of roaming a free range.

“All the chickens in this world would have microphones so they can squawk at one another and socialize," says Stewart.

Spoiler alert: While Stewart admits that this is not a real business proposal, he is trying to provoke discussion on our lives as people living in "boxes" as well as communication on our livestock practices.

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Education
5:12 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

The Cost of College

On average, Iowa students owe $29,000 in college loan debt when they graduate with a bachelor's degree
BankSimple

When they receive their bachelor’s degree, a majority of Iowa graduates are in debt. On average, these students owe $29,000 in college loan debt when they graduate with a bachelor's degree.

The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, IowaWatch.org, has been examining students who live in the now while in college, and then face the prospects of paying huge amounts off in debt.

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Java Blend
2:56 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Java Blend Exclusive Hour With Roxi Copland

Tune in this weekend for the soulful, minimalist sounds of Roxi Copland.

In this episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," host, Ben Kieffer will chat with soulful Milwaukee artist, Roxi Copland.

Listen to and download the podcast to find out more about the making of their debut album.

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Politics Day
3:06 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Primaries a Bellweather for Iowa's U.S. Senate Race?

USA.gov

On Tuesday, six states held nominating contests and the Republican establishment scored big wins. Are the results a bellwether for Iowa’s primaries in less than two weeks?  Political analysts Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa give us their thoughts on the primaries for open congressional seats here in Iowa.  Host Ben Kieffer asks how the issues of minimum wage and the Affordable Care Act are being talked about by Iowa's GOP candidates for U.S. Senate.
 

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Education
5:09 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Examining the Bar

Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Bar Association has recommended to the Iowa State Supreme Court that Iowa’s law schools should institute a “diploma privilege” for graduates of Iowa's law schools, meaning that graduates wouldn’t have to take the bar exam to practice law in the state.

Is allowing lawyers who haven’t passed a bar exam to practice a good idea? President of the Iowa State Bar Association Guy Cook says it’s an overdue change, “Iowa’s bar exam doesn’t test knowledge of Iowa law. This proposal wouldn’t work everywhere, but in Iowa, it could.”

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River to River
2:25 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

The Beauty and Future of Iowa's Parks

Lake MacBride Park in Solon, IA
Emily Woodbury

Iowa is the second most privately owned state in the U.S., so land preserved on its public parks is particularly special. Today on River to River –  the future of Iowa’s parks.

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