Geoffrey Riley

News Director | Jefferson Exchange Host

Geoffrey Riley began practicing journalism in the State of Jefferson more than 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.

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The old jokes about spending our latter days in a rocking chair on a porch somewhere really don't apply anymore. 

Because the idea of retirement is so different; older Americans expect to be active in retirement, IF they even retire. 

Robin Ryan, career counselor and frequent media guest, assumes some kind of life after work in her book Retirement Reinvention

She packed the book with ideas for staying happy and healthy after the full-time working days are over. 

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The fire sweeps through and blackens everything in its path.  Then, a few weeks or months later, green shoots. 

And morel mushrooms, lots and LOTS of morels in some places. 

Recent fire seasons have laid waste to large patches of forest, but also encouraged the growth of the tasty mushrooms. 

Johnny Anderson, one of the owners of Foods In Season, is a big fan of morels. 

RVWithTito, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8771491

It's not that hotter and drier summers kill trees by themselves.  But when winters are mild, creatures that kill the trees don't die, and continue to feast upon them. 

That appears to be at least part of what is happening to Douglas firs, particularly in Oregon.  Flatheaded fir borers have killed trees by the tens or thousands, by BLM counts. 

Bill Schaupp is an entomologist at the Forest Health Protection office of the U.S. Forest Service, and well-versed in tree-killing bugs. 

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When you think of a robbery at a museum, you probably picture a valuable painting, or some artifact from antiquity.  But dead birds? 

It happened, at the Tring Museum in Greater London.  A man obsessed with exotic bird feathers stole hundreds of old bird skins from the museum and disappeared. 

Enter the man obsessed with flyfishing, and we get a book: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson, the flyfisher, tracked the story and the players for several years for his book. 

Ansgar Walk, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=757797

It makes sense in principle: icebergs and ice sheets in the polar regions melt, and add water to the oceans. 

So the oceans rise.  But HOW?  That's the question researched in great detail by Dave Sutherland in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon. 

His research focuses not just on the melting, but where the water goes, horizontally and vertically.  Sutherland's work takes him to Greenland and Alaska, among other places. 

Giaccai, Italian Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34448012

John Kalb is a chiropractor in Ashland, but his health interests go well beyond bones and joints. 

He focuses on the brain in his second book, Keep Your Marbles

It's addressed to fellow baby boomers who notice changes in how their brains work (and occasionally do not seem to work).  Think of it as a tuneup and maintenance guide for the aging brain. 

Jennifer Pahlka, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10973297

James Sexton knows plenty about how relationships end. 

As a divorce lawyer--tabbed by one client as "the sociopath you want on your side"--Sexton assists in getting people un-married. 

So he turns the process completely around and offers advice in how to address the issues in a marriage, in If You're in My Office, It's Already Too Late: A Divorce Lawyer's Guide to Staying Together

After all those divorces, he still believes in love and romance. 

The booming cannabis business may be good for many people, but there are other impacts to consider.  Like what happens to the people who want to keep growing food when the farms around them begin growing cannabis? 

The Rogue Valley Food System Network wanted an answer to that question, so it teamed up with Southern Oregon University to explore the issues. 

Environmental scientist Vincent Smith led the work; he presented it in a recent public lecture

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If you break a leg or come down with a disease that confines you to bed, people generally know what to do.  But that's physical illness. 

Mental illness presents a different set of challenges in diagnosis and treatment. 

All of the members of Southern Oregon Compass House in Medford learned this firsthand. 

Once a month, we visit with clubhouse members and staffers to explore issues in mental illness, issues we're often hearing about for the first time. 

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Drought is a regular companion to life in the west.  Even when there's no drought, there's not much rain... Klamath Falls gets 14 inches in a "normal" year. 

Water worries visit other parts of the country as well. 

Julene Bair wrote something like a love story to a landscape and an aquifer in The Ogallala Road: A Story of Love, Family, and the Fight to Keep the Great Plains from Running Dry

The lands around us are crisscrossed with trails used by the serious long-distance hikers and the just-an-hour plodders as well. 

Legislation passed in 2016 requires the U.S. Forest Service to move toward a sustainable trail system... sustainable environmentally and economically. 

And the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is getting started on its compliance, holding public meetings and making other moves to assess public needs and interest. 

Comedy fans may have known who Michelle Wolf is, but the rest of the country learned her name after the recent White House Correspondents Dinner. 

Wolf's razzing of reporters and administration mouthpieces is just one of many developments in the media in the last month. 

And it will come up for discussion when we reconvene with Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay of the Southern Oregon University Communication faculty.  They visit once a month for an omnivorous media segment we call Signals & Noise. 

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We invited the Grim Reaper as a guest, but she's booked pretty solid, so we welcome The Green Reaper (yes, that's her nickname).

Funeral customs in the U.S. are generally not very kind to the planet. Conventional funerals use tons of wood, concrete, and metals for caskets and tombs, as well as millions of gallons of embalming fluid, which can be carcinogenic.

Elizabeth Fournier, the owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon, thinks there's a better way. In her new book The Green Burial Guidebook, she gives a comprehensive look at alternatives.

Brian Turner via Flickr

Charles Longjaw had already admitted to a killing in Oregon and a rape in Washington.  Yet he was released from custody in 2015, and charged with committing another murder the next year. 

The situation comes back to the law under which he was found "guilty except for insanity."  GEI verdicts, as they are known, can lead to offenders being released despite predictions of danger. 

The non-profit news organization ProPublica uncovered issues with the law in a joint project with the Malheur Enterprise. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1243835

Drought and wet years tend to alternate in our part of the world.  We get used to a winter with little snow followed by one with above-average snowpack. 

But computer climate models show the situation getting worse as the planet warms, with something like a "precipitation whiplash" effect: deep and prolonged droughts followed by deluges. 

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We stopped the "warehousing" of people with mental illness years ago.  Or did we? 

The huge state hospitals with thousands of residents are generally gone, but our jail and prison population has boomed. 

And there's plenty of evidence that the two trends are related... like the fact that up to half of the people in lockup have psychiatric disorders. 

Journalist Alisa Roth researched the trends and the people they represent for her book  Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness

Google Street View via ashlandfood.coop

There is a pressing need for affordable housing all around the region, especially in pricey Ashland.  And now there's a possibility that a grocery store could provide some help. 

The Ashland Food Co-op recently announced a deal to buy a parcel of land across the railroad tracks from its current location. 

The parcel is big enough for a bigger store and more parking, but could also have space left over for "workforce housing." 

Tales of people fighting fires go way back in the region.  And there's a special aura of mystery and romance around smokejumpers, people who actually jump out of planes (yes, with parachutes) to fight wildfires. 

Mystery and romance?  More like grunts and groans, from the tales of the smokejumpers themselves. 

The physical conditioning they undergo to be ready for action is challenging, to say the least. 

This month's Stories of Southern Oregon features a return visit from Gary Buck of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum near Cave Junction. 

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Silent since her death in 1959, the voice of Billie Holiday still echoes for generations of Americans. 

The story of "Lady Day" has been told many times, but author Tracy Fessenden tells the story of Holiday's music with a religious focus.  Fessenden's book is Religion Around Billie Holiday, and it explores religious influences ranging from Holiday's time in a convent as a child to the Jewish predominance in the Tin Pan Alley pop music culture. 

Each helped shape the work of the singer who flamed out too early at age 44. 

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Paint your skin green, stagger around like your joints hurt, and make sounds like "arrrrr!" and people will generally get it: you're Frankenstein's monster.  Dr. Frankenstein's creation is actually 200 years old this year; Mary Shelley's little book came out in early 1818. 

And yet we still make new movies and plays and even musicals about the mad scientist and his creation of life from death. 

Ashland author Tod Davies has some ideas about the durability of the characters and story.  She talks about the "Monster Hit" in a lecture coming up at Southern Oregon University's library (May 10). 

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