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.

Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0,

In Western Oregon, it's the story in place after place: too many people for too few houses. 

Low vacancy rates drive up both housing costs and homelessness. 

Josh Lehner in the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis knows the numbers well. 

Public domain

Maybe you're the kind of person who needs coffee and/or orange juice before the creative juices start flowing.  You can change, you know. 

Danny Gregory, who comes across like walking caffeine, shares his energy and enthusiasm about creativity in a book called Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are

He joined us in 2015, and we happily revisit our interview, filled with ideas for squeezing some time out of our schedules to express our creative sides. 

Himalayan Cataract Project

When you live up where the air is thin and the sun is closer, cataracts can be much more common. 

So the people who live in Nepal are prone to blindness from cataracts, a condition that can be corrected by relatively inexpensive surgery--still too expensive for most of the people in that poor country. 

So the Himalayan Cataract Project was born to bring the surgery to the people, and Dr. Matt Oliva from Medford's Medical Eye Center is part of the team. 


We knew Peter Sage was an institution, but that only scratched the surface.  The longtime friend and contributor to JPR can trace family on his farm along the Rogue River back to the 1880s. 

And several ancestors were highly influential in the valley; his aunt Mae Richardson got a school named after her, for one example. 

Stories of Southern Oregon, produced by Maureen Battistella, this month focuses on Peter Sage, his century farm near the Table Rocks, and the family that inhabited that farm over the years. 

City of Ashland

A recall election against three members of the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission failed at the polls Tuesday.  A long and bitter campaign failed to turn out commissioners Jim Lewis, Mike Gardiner, and Rick Landt.

SonoranDesertNPS, CC BY 2.0,

Winter just hasn't measured up in precipitation so far, raising drought concerns in both states. 

California, which grows so much of the country's food, continues to look for new strategies to hedge against drought.  Among them: groundwater recharge, putting surface water into underground aquifers when there's a storm or other surface-water surplus. 


The Affordable Care Act--Obamacare--put mental health care on par with physical health, as far as health insurance goes.  But insurance does not automatically mean a lot of providers are available. 

And a recent report shows a shortage of mental health (behavioral health, in their lexicon) workers in California. 

Janet Coffman at the University of California-San Francisco led the reporting team; she joins us. 

Yoichi Okamoto, Public Domain,

For a "post-racial" society, we sure talk about race a lot.  And not for the first time. 

50 years ago, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the 1967 race riots issued a report that shocked just about everyone and produced little to no action. 

Historian Steven Gillon pulls off that scab in his book  Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism

USAID/Bryce Smedley

Education is not easy in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR).  BBC News calls it "the country where teachers have disappeared." 

Southern Oregon University professor Bryce Smedley recently returned from a trip to CAR to assess educational needs and help train teachers. 

And the work doesn't end now that he's home... Smedley gets his education students at SOU involved with the teachers-in-training back in Africa. 


The Oregon Legislature is not quite as party-divided as Congress, but there's still not a great deal of cooperation between parties. 

So it's notable that legislators of both parties sponsored HB 4005, an effort to keep drug prices from rising too quickly.  The bill requires drug companies to report the costs of research, so at least pricing decisions will be transparent. 

Republican Senator Dennis Linthicum from Klamath County sponsored the bill in the Senate with Democrat Lee Beyer. 


Even the use of the very word "empathy" can produce some interesting gut-level reactions.  Some people feel the need to delve deeper; others just snicker. 

Empathy--the ability to sense what other people feel emotionally--is a handy skill, and helpful in many situations.  But it is often misunderstood as well. 

Cris Beam puts a journalists on fact and myth, theory and practice in the book I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy

Beatrice Murch, CC 2.0 Generic license.

The United States is a graying country; the median age is near 40. 

In many African countries, the median age is under 20, so it might behoove the world to invest some time and money into understanding teens. 

That is an approach advocated by Nick Allen, University of Oregon professor and director of UO's Center for Digital Mental Health.  He and colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley recently made the case for expanded study of development and other issues for teenagers. 

eyeliam, CC BY 2.0,

In other parts of the developed world, midwives deliver a lot of babies... like in England, where half the births involve midwives. 

Here, not so much.  About ten percent of American births include midwives.  And recent research shows how making greater use of midwives can make for healthier babies and mothers. 

Oregon is one state that does better than many in integrating midwives into the birthing process.  Melissa Cheyney at Oregon State University was one of the authors of the study. 


The tech industry is so dominated by males that some people have taken to calling its workers "brogrammers."  But a closer look reveals women who made key contributions to both computers and the Internet. 

And Claire Evans, herself versed in computers (and singing in a band, but that's another story), writes of these pioneering women in the provocatively named Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

The stories date back to 1842, surprisingly. 

Italo-Europeo, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It seems only appropriate that a town that reveres and is supported by Shakespeare should have an affinity for London.  The British capital and its arts scene are highlighted in a series of plays and operas projected at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland. 

Nothing too tricky about the name for the series, it is called "London Live in Ashland."

The preliminary schedule for the season features events into the month of June, on Sundays and Mondays.

Mental illness is a problem, period.  But the problems are compounded by not knowing what KIND of mental illness a person is dealing with. 

The wrong diagnosis can send a person down a long trail of difficulties, incorrect treatments, and wrong medications. 

We hear a firsthand account of NOT getting a correct diagnosis from a member of Compass House in Medford, in this month's edition of Compass Radio. 

Julius Schorzman, CC BY-SA 2.0,

What's in your mug?  Most of us can't seem to start the day without SOME kind of beverage containing caffeine. 

Journalist Murray Carpenter freely admits he's often under the influence.  So he turned his curiosity on his drug of choice and wrote Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

Murray Carpenter visited the Exchange in 2015, and we return to the interview here. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5,

We used to flush all kinds of things into the gutters of the street, headed for the storm drains. 

And even though a few lessons have been learned (and a few fish stencils have been painted on storm drains), lots of unhealthy substances end up in the drains.  They're not sewers; there's no treatment of the water between drain and street. 

And a recent study shows that the dirty water not only makes life unpleasant for fish, it changes them.  Fish can grow up differently--and not better--when exposed to storm drain runoff. 

The aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida was an upheaval in political and media realms. 

The surviving students made their displeasure with gun laws and other factors plain immediately, demonstrating once again the power of new media--social media--in today's world.  That's just one topic we'll take up in this month's Signals & Noise segment. 

That's our monthly conclave with Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay, members of the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University. 


Audiences have drawn sharp breaths upon seeing some of the plays and operas directed by Peter Sellars, a professor at UCLA.  And upon occasion, the sharp breaths are followed by people walking out. 

Sellars pushes the boundaries, staging plays in swimming pools and in complete darkness, among other settings. 

He visits Southern Oregon University to talk about Shakespeare and the interpretation of his and other plays.