Geoffrey Riley

News Director | Jefferson Exchange Host

Geoffrey Riley began practicing journalism in the State of Jefferson nearly three decades ago, as a reporter and anchor for a Medford TV station. It was about the same time that he began listening to Jefferson Public Radio, and thought he might one day work there. He was right.

Geoff came to JPR as a backup host on The Jefferson Exchange in late 2000, and he assumed the full-time host job at the beginning of 2010. The two hours of the Exchange allow him to join our listeners in exploring issues both large and small, local and global. In addition to hosting The Exchange, Geoff oversees JPR’s news department as its News Director.

Geoff is a New York native, with stints in broadcast news in Missouri, Alabama, and Wisconsin before his arrival in Oregon. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Oobspace, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Maybe you never knew where the stuff from your recycled bin ended up... until the recent news from China. 

China has taken a lot of stuff off the hands of other countries, including nearly half the plastic waste created by the rest of the world. 

Now the Beijing government says too much of the waste was dirty and/or hazardous, and it is closing the scrap window for many items. 

That creates issues for recyclers, like Rogue Disposal & Recycling, and regulators, like the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Ashland Automotive

Even if you can change a tire or swap out a car battery, there's a good chance your knowledge of the other stuff inside your car is limited.  That's why we take our cars to somebody else for repair. 

But how do you know for sure that the repair you got was the repair you needed?  Stories abound of technicians doing unnecessary work on vehicles. 

Zach Edwards employs repair technicians at Ashland Automotive.  And in a special edition of The Squeaky Wheel, he shares tips on what to watch for when arranging for work to be done on your car or truck. 

Dr. Mike Baxter/Wikimedia

Maybe you've taken one of those DNA tests that tells you where your ancestors lived.  They can contain a few surprises... for individuals, and for humans as a species. 

The science of genomics is ripping up some assumptions about the upright inhabitants of the Earth, and where they've lived and loved. 

Adam Rutherford explains in his book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived


The reaction was sharp and negative when Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of one of its drugs... from $13.50 per pill to $750.00.  The company CEO was later sent to jail, but not for the drug prices. 

Regulators appear powerless to affect drug prices.  Or did, until California passed a state law to require drugmakers to provide more information and time when they raise prices. 

We discuss drug prices and how they are set with Mariana Socal of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

We also touch on the affordability of drug prices for cancer patients with hematologist-oncologist Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Ashland New Plays Festival

"Let's go watch people read scripts out loud," may not be everyone's idea of a good time, but it packs in the crowds in Ashland. 

Especially for the Ashland New Plays Festival, which returns with four new plays this week (October 18-22). 

Audiences get to hear new works, and their authors get to hear the works out loud, with audience reactions. 

Beth Kander is this year's host playwright. 

Thegreenj, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Nobody likes to be called a big chicken, and there's a good chance the poultry industry won't appreciate the term, either. 

But journalist Maryn McKenna says the power and practices of the business lend themselves to the name.  She uses it for the title of her book, too: Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats

Note the focus on antibiotics, still used in chickens at a time when doctors are warning against the casual use of the drugs. 

Daniel Mayer, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Maybe the big infrastructure bill President Trump promised has not emerged.  But specific projects are getting approved, including in our region. 

The city of Weed has some money coming from the federal government, $2.4 Million for improvements in and around the South Weed Interchange. 

How much of an effect can working on one interchange have on the local economy?  The city says up to 80 jobs.

Our society came to the conclusion that keeping people locked up in mental hospitals was unfair.  But the system that followed can hardly be called a system. 

People with mental illness don't often go to the hospital, but they can end up on the streets or in jail. 

Compass House in Medford offers an alternative... a "clubhouse" model in which people help themselves and each other back from mental illness. 

Clayton Cochran/Instagram via CalFire

By Friday morning, the wine country fires collectively had become the deadliest outbreak of fires in California history, to no one's surprise.

Eight of the deaths occurred in Mendocino County, in the Mendocino Lake Complex Fires.  The number is expected to go up, and more days of fire lie ahead, unless the weather forecast is very wrong.

Residents who had to flee the fires took shelter in Ukiah and Willits. 

Ashley Tressel has been covering the story for the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Everyone from our parents to our doctors often counsel us to be positive. 

And just look at the tone on social media sites: be happy!  Those negative emotions do have their uses, though. 

Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener point out how, in their book The Upside of Your Dark Side

Robert Biswas-Diener joined us a few years back to demonstrate how those "negative" emotions can produce positive results. 

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It's not quite a trade war; not yet, anyway.  But there are bad feelings between the United States and Canada over softwood lumber. 

The stuff used to build our houses comes across the border with Canadian subsidies, says the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

And the United States is ready to slap tariffs up to 27% on the Canadian lumber as a result.  Oregon mill towns might see some relief, welcome news to Swanson Lumber in Glendale. 

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden supports action on the Canadian lumber. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting

There's almost as much buzz about the movie on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover as there was about the takeover itself. 

Armed protestors took control of the refuge in January 2016 and held it for more than a month. 

David Byars made a documentary about the takeover, "No Man's Land."

It already played film festivals in Klamath Falls and elsewhere, and has picked up some awards. 

The film will be the closing event at Varsity World Film Week, Friday (October 13th) at 7:30 in Ashland. 

Sludge G, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Think of it as the "gig economy" on wheels: older people supplementing meager retirement income by traveling the country in vans and campers, taking odd jobs here and there.  Sound like retirement to you? 

Journalist Jessica Bruder hit the road with the weekday warriors to document their patchwork employment. 

The result is the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

It's a lifestyle that may become familiar to more people, with the skads of baby boomers retiring every day. 


It's a reality of life in our time that few parents get to stay home full-time with the kids.  So that makes child care very important to many families. 

The recent case of 43 children sickened by insecticide spraying at a Coos Bay daycare reminds us that things can and do go wrong in places where children receive care. 

Plenty of agencies are available to support and train providers, including the Oregon Early Learning Division and the Child Care Resource Network of Southern Oregon


The supporters of the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal put their application in front of a federal agency.  The federal agency said no. 

Then the 2016 election changed the direction of the federal government.  Now the Jordan Cove project is alive again, at least on paper... papers submitted once again to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

We examine the arguments for and against Jordan Cove and its 200 mile pipeline in separate segments. 

In this one, you hear from opponents of the project about why they are dead-set against pipeline and terminal. 

Almonroth/Wikimedia Commons

We learn more and more over time about the ways in which we group things and people in our minds, often unfairly.  It's hard to know you've got a bias, if everyone around you has a similar mindset. 

Now stop and think about all the computer and phone apps and algorithms, and the ever-larger roles they play in our lives.  They do not make assumptions... but the people who create them DO. 

This is what Sara Wachter-Boettcher explores in her book Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

Douglas County government looks like a lot of other county governments in Western Oregon, but a change is in the offing. 

A "home rule" charter group proposes a shakeup.  If voters approve the change, the three-person board of paid commissioners would be replaced by a five-person board of volunteer county commissioners elected from specific electoral districts. 

It would potentially save the county money (in salaries), and bring the commissioners closer (physically, anyway) to the voters. 

Steven Babuljak/

You don't have to tell any journalist that the world is changing. 

The days when they worked just for the next newscast or press run are long gone, thanks to the Internet. 

And this is the zone in which the Online News Association works. 

Southern Oregon University professor Erik Palmer just returned from the conference of the ONA, where he was identified as a "disruptive journalism fellow." 

Bernd Schwabe, Hannover, CC BY-SA 3.0,

How far are YOU willing to go to get what you want... from a boss, from a mate, from a friend? 

When you're trying to get something from a superior, by definition, you're working UP the chain of command.  Or, to be blunt, you're sucking up. 

And guess what title Deborah Parker and Matt Parker chose for their book on the practice?  Yep, Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy

As you might guess from the title, there's plenty of humor in this perusal of yes-man, flatterers, boot-lickers, and more. 

Robert & Mihaela Vicol, Public Domain,

We depend on language a lot, often taking for granted how speech works. 

It only takes one slight hiccup--in either speaking or hearing--for "excuse me while I kiss the sky" to become "excuse me while I kiss this guy." 

This is the research zone in which the University of Oregon's Melissa Baese-Berk works.  She's an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics, studying speech production and perception. 

An example of her work: trying to figure out if Neil Armstrong said "small step for A man."