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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Side-by-side comparisons show Oregon's pesticide rules on forestry spraying are weaker than in other states. 

Those rules played a part in the spraying of dozens of homes and people and animals by a helicopter near Gold Beach two years ago. 

The incident led to fines and a suspension, but no change in rules.  Oregon house member Ann Lininger wants to see the rules change, and she's made several efforts to change them through the legislature. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

Just about every criminal case involves physical evidence, and that physical evidence is often processed by a crime lab. 

There are more than 400 crime labs across the United States for researching crimes against people and property. 

And there is exactly ONE in the world for investigating crimes against wildlife. 

That is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Forensics Lab in Ashland. 

Women in agriculture and raw milk get a day together.

We learn about the difficulties of chasing poachers--successfully--in a big state like Oregon.

And even Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition gives us ten minutes (yes, REALLY).

Another big week is shaping up May 25-29 on the Exchange... take a look at the still-forming lineup:


Jackson County's ban on GMO crops is set to take effect on June 6th, unless the federal judge hearing a suit against it blocks it.

Another vote on a GMO ban, in Benton County (Corvallis), failed this week, by a wide margin.  Benton County is home to Oregon State University, which performs research on GMO crops.

And OSU's agriculture dean, Dr. Dan Arp, sat on a task force reporting on GMO agriculture just last year.

The only ski area in Southwestern Oregon could have more weddings than ski days this year. 

Mount Ashland Ski Area only opened for 38 skiing days last winter... which is still 38 more than the winter before. 

Weddings and other warm-season events could become a more important part of the area's income down the road, if details can be worked out with the landlord, the U.S. Forest Service. 

Public comments are now being taken on summer recreation activities (see below). 

Basic Books

Do you stop to think about the importance of seeds in your life? 

Your morning cup of coffee starts with them, and much of what you eat, wear, and use comes from seeds. 

Conservation biologist Thor Hanson wants us to think about seeds and what they give us. 

And he gives us plenty to work with in his book The Triumph of Seeds.


The potential impact of the Oregon Supreme Court's decision to stop the state from reforming the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) benefits paid to retirees runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Oregon State Representative Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) will play a significant role in addressing this issue moving ahead. 

Buckley is the House Co-Chair for the Joint Ways and Means Committee, which helps shape state budgets.

Even Congress is fighting over the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone call "metadata."  On our VENTSday segment, tell us what you think.

While you're at it, give the world a piece of your mind on Oregon's tax "kicker" law, that'll give money to taxpayers next year.

Our weekly VENTSday segment puts the listeners front and center.   We throw a pair of topics on the table, and let callers and emailers vent--politely--on those topics.

Topics range from the global to the hyper-local, and all responsible opinions are welcome.

Charlotte Duren/JPR News

Genetically modified crops--universally called GMO--are not going away, and neither is the controversy over them. 

Industry and many regulatory bodies insist they are safe, but many consumers and activists want them tightly controlled, if used at all. 

Jackson County passed a ban on growing GMO crops in May of 2014, the only binding local measure in Oregon.  That measure is set to take effect on June 6th, but first it has to clear a court challenge. 

Our Family Farms Coalition pushed for the measure. 


Voters rejected another public safety levy in Josephine County in Tuesday's election, adding to a string of levy failures dating back several years.

Vote returns showed the No side winning the night, 54 percent to 46 percent.  Measure 17-66 was crafted as a five-year serial levy to pay for more patrol deputies, more jail officers, and the reopening of the Josephine County juvenile shelter.

But the measure would have raised property taxes by $1.40 per thousand dollars assessed valuation.  Josephine County's tax rate for county services is the lowest in Oregon at 58 cents per thousand.


Oregon and California are both brimming with natural wonders.  And kids do learn about the many natural features in school, but often in classrooms. 

Outdoor School For All wants to fling open the classroom doors in Oregon, so students get education ABOUT the outdoors IN the outdoors. 

The movement got bills introduced in both houses of the Oregon legislature to provide a week of outdoor education or its equivalent for all fifth and sixth graders. 


You can be forgiven if you forget that marijuana is still illegal in California, except for medical uses. 

And part of the confusion comes from various state and local government agencies setting up rules and guidelines for marijuana cultivation. 

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is among them, working toward a set of water quality regulations for marijuana growers. 

Unregulated use of water causes issues both coming and going; involving water taken from streams and wastes put into them. 

Henry Holt and Company

Much of World War II took place half a world away from where we live. 

But then... the recent anniversary of the people killed by a balloon bombing in Bly, Oregon provided one reminder that the war came closer. 

Then there's the issue of the internment camps for Japanese-Americans near the state line, covered in Richard Reeves's book Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese-American Internment in World War II

M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia

One decision from the Oregon Supreme Court will have a tremendous impact on state and local governments for years to come.  

The decision turned back a move by the legislature and governor to save money on public pensions, by reducing cost-of-living allowances for retirees.  

The court ruling nixed that, so the state, counties, cities, and school districts are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars of additional benefit payments.  

The Oregon School Employees Association is relieved by the decision.  

Deviant Art/Wikimedia

This interview explores the flip side of the coin on the Oregon Supreme Court decision on PERS, the Public Employee Retirement System.  

The court decision will cost state and local governments millions of dollars more than expected in benefit payments to retirees.  

The Oregon School Boards Association is assessing the impact on school districts. 

Perigee Press

  It can be really fun to surprise people and be surprised in turn.  But can you make a career out of it?  

Already done: Tania Luna calls herself a "surprisologist," and she runs a business arranging novel experiences for individuals and groups.  

She and LeeAnn Renninger wrote a book called Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected.  

We dive into the vaults for today's edition of the Jefferson Exchange. 

At 8:00: Sara Gottfried, MD and yoga instructor, gets into the nitty-gritty of women and hormone issues--and their remedies--in The Hormone Cure.

At 9:00: Francine Prose, author of Goldengrove and many other books, joined us during a 2013 visit to the region.

California Department of Water Resources

Snow surveys are supposed to find snow.  But in the mild winter we had, little precipitation fell as snow. 

Most of the later-in-the-season surveys turned up dirt. 

California's snow surveys came out even worse than Oregon's. 

W.W. Norton

Even people who do not know much of the Bible know the story of Noah's flood... the gigantic flood that supposedly wiped out all land creatures except the ones Noah took aboard his ark.

The search for evidence of that flood led to the beginning of the science of geology, and ultimated contributed to an ongoing tension between science and religion.

So says David Montgomery, geologist at the University of Washington. 

He's written a book on the flood called The Rocks Don't Lie, and he brings a lecture by that name to Southwestern Oregon Community College this week (May 16th).

War reenactments are a big deal in our country.  Especially for Civil War battles, remote in time and yet still endlessly fascinating. 

It's a whole different thing to reenact battles from a war that went badly for our country, and that many people remember from their own lives. 

But Vietnam war reenactors do gather for simulated battles in Oregon, a process detailed in the documentary film "In Country."