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.

Nudists gather in Eugene for a national convention, and an Ashland bookstore feuds with the Shakespeare Festival over banned books. 

Seems like a VENTSday topic to us: whether it's books or bodies, where and when is censorship appropriate? 

VENTSday removes the guests and puts listener comments front and center on The Exchange. Once a week, it's all about you... we plop a pair of topics on the table, post a survey on our Facebook page, and open the phone lines and email box for live comments.

Got an observation or opinion? Share it with the State of Jefferson on VENTSday.

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

11 different acts are booked for the West Coast Country Music Festival this weekend near Ashland.  At least one had to get parental permission to attend.

And Rainy and The Rattlesnakes got that permission... because Dad is one of the Rattlesnakes. 

Rainy Miatke is the title performer; she and sister Lela started playing instruments before they were ten, and formed a band with their dad, Ray, soon after. Lucas Brinkerhoff plays bass for the group. 


The feel of the Old West came through in the novels of Zane Grey. 

Grey came to love the Rogue River Valley, and built himself a cabin near the river.  The cabin recently earned designation on the National Register of Historic Places, giving it a firmer shot at survival. 

The Bureau of Land Management has been owner of the cabin for much of the last decade. 


Animal rights activists and the Bureau of Land Management have clashed for years over the proper management of wild horses in the West. 

Now the clash is potentially headed for court over BLM's proposal to provide surgical birth control to mares currently held in Oregon. 

That prompted Front Range Equine Rescue to file suit in federal court. 


  Tests at two Medford elementary schools (Jackson and Roosevelt) recently found elevated lead levels in the water. 

Which would be a source of concern in any school, but perhaps even more at these two.  Because both had undergone extensive remodeling in the last decade, with replacement of much of the plumbing. 

Bottled water during summer activities provides a short-term solution. 

Southern Oregon University has been dealing with very similar issues. 

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

Oregon State Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford) died suddenly on Friday, August 5th. 

He served Southern Oregon in the legislature for 16 years, first in the House, then in the Senate.  And it's not like he didn't already have a full-time job; Dr. Bates--"Doc" to his legislative colleagues--saw and healed patients out of a practice in Medford. 

He brought his medical knowledge to bear on his legislative work, helping shape Oregon's innovative approach to Medicaid. 

We invited some of the people who worked with Sen. Bates and knew him best to join us. 


It's not every day we read a co-memoir.  Especially when such a book is published after the death of one of the co-authors. 

But Ashland resident Josh Gross got a packet of his father's papers at his father's funeral. 

And that led to the book appropriately titled The Funeral Papers, detailing the often strained and ultimately estranged relationship between Josh and Arnie Gross. 


Raise your child to be an individual.  But not a jerk. 

Compassionate, but not wishy-washy.  Strong, but sensitive. 

See, we get plenty of advice on parenting that doesn't quite add up. 

Ultimately, what we're doing is Raising Human Beings, which happens to be the title of child psychologist Ross Greene's new book.  His approach is all about collaborating with children, while maintaining a solid parent-child relationship. 

Josh Morrell/

Any Friday is something of an event. First Friday is a slightly bigger deal in the arts world, as several communities in our region observe First Friday Art Walks. 

The Exchange goes with the flow, with our monthly First Friday Arts segment. 

We open the phone lines (800-838-3760) and invite arts organizations from throughout the listening area to call in with details of arts events in the coming weeks... from fine art to open mike nights, all arts events are fair game. 


It's been 71 years since an impossibly bright light flashed over Hiroshima, Japan: the first use of a nuclear weapon in war.  Thousands died there and at Nagasaki three days later. 

It scared the world badly enough that nuclear weapons were not used in war again.  But our country and others certainly built more of them. 

Peace House in Ashland spends three days commemorating the Hiroshima-Nagasaki anniversary (August 6-9) with the help of anti-nuclear activist Greg Boertje-Obed.  He was one of three activists arrested for breaking into a nuclear facility in Tennessee. 


A lot of what we know about the world got locked up a long time ago.  What if we're just plain wrong? 

The NPR podcast "Invisibilia" explores the forces that shape our world and influence our behavior.  We give the second hour of the Exchange time slot over to "Invisibilia" for seven straight Fridays, beginning today. 

Enjoy the stories and the science that make the show unique. 


Easter Island is a fascinating place, and not just because of the the moai, the statues with the big heads. 

If you look beyond the statues in photographs, you see a grassy landscape.  As far as scientists can tell, the island was a place with lots of trees when humans arrived. 

There's still some debate about what happened there, and Dr. Candace Gossen of Blackcoyote Archaeology is one of the scientists trying to find answers. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

Art imitates life, but not always without controversy. 

Many people in the Roseburg area objected when Philadelphia playwright Ginger Dayle wrote and staged a play about the mass shooting last year at Umpqua Community College called simply "Roseburg."

The shooting is just part of the story; the other part is a Roseburg appearance by Bobby Kennedy just the day before he lost the Oregon primary in 1968.  Kennedy himself was murdered a few weeks later. 

Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress

This year in America has been compared with 1968, largely because of the sour public mood, coinciding with a presidential election. 

1968 was the year Robert Kennedy, brother of the late president, decided to run for the White House himself.  By the middle of the year, RFK was dead himself from an assassin's bullet. 

In the new book Bobby Kennedy: The Making Of A Liberal Icon, author Larry Tye tracks the formation of Kennedy's political persona through the straightlaced 1950s. 


The words "jail" and "prison" are often used interchangeably, and incorrectly so. 

Prison is supposed to be the place where people go upon conviction; jail is where people awaiting trial are held, if they represent a threat or a flight risk. 

But the lines have blurred, especially as both Oregon and California have taken to using jail for convicts, to keep the state prison populations under control. 

And the Vera Institute of Justice questions how many people in jail are really either threats or flight risks. 

Josh Estey/AusAID

The number of people serving prison time in America--2.2 Million--can be abstract. 

So let's make it more concrete: that's more than the population of 15 states.  Criminal justice reform is becoming attractive to politicians of many stripes, and you can air your thoughts on reform on VENTSday this week. 

VENTSday removes the guests and puts listener comments front and center on The Exchange. Once a week, it's all about you... we plop a topic on the table, post a survey on our Facebook page (and below), and open the phone lines and email box for live comments.

The topics can range from presidential politics to how you spend your days off. Got an observation or opinion? Share it with the State of Jefferson on VENTSday. Join by phone at 800-838-3760, email, or take the survey online.


"I'm sorry if anyone was offended by my statement." 

Have you ever heard that kind of apology and wondered about the sincerity of the apologist?  Notice, as you parse the phrase, that the person speaking is NOT apologizing for the statement, but for the reaction. 

Southern Oregon University Professor Edwin Battistella noticed the spate of half-apologies of recent years; he wrote a book about them: Sorry About That.  It's been released in paperback this year, not necessarily in time to coincide with election year and all the gaffes and apologies that brings.

You'd think two high school students who just placed third NATIONALLY in a debate competition would be in the mood for a little down time.  Not Leo Saenger and Henry Lininger

The two South Eugene High School students returned from their award-winning performance in Salt Lake City, then soon took off for a seven-week debate camp in Michigan. 

They're only 16--how much better can they get? 

Chris Darling/Wikimedia

Taking children away from their parents and placing them in foster homes can be a bumpy process for all the people involved. 

Just ask the young people who were placed in foster care.  We do just that, in a chat with Oregon Foster Youth Connection

OFYC is an advocacy group made up of current and former foster kids, ages 14 to 25. 

Michelle Palmer from Lane County, who does some national work on the issue, joins us. 

Saffron Blaze/Wikimedia

It's not just city people who dream of buying a chunk of land in the country and living closer to nature.  But especially for the ex-urban dwellers, the questions start with: how?

The days when most of the American population lived on farms is long past.  Which is why the Extension Service at Oregon State University offers a Land Steward Program, to teach new and aspiring country dwellers to take better care of their property--and ultimately, themselves. 

The program trains landowners over 11 weeks in subjects like wildfire risk reduction and stream ecology.