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.

Forest Service/Public Domain

Jumping out of a plane to fight a fire sounds like a military response. 

Funny you should mention it: the practice of smokejumping did, in fact, begin in the shadow of World War II. 

The war ended long ago, but the practice did not. 

Sometimes the best way to fight a fire in a remote area is by dropping people and equipment from a plane (with parachutes).  The Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum near Cave Junction lays out the history of smokejumpers. 

The pointer recently moved another click to the right: fire danger is now High in much of the region. 

It is now a question of when, not if, firefighters get busy keeping wildfires from growing out of control. 

The strategy involves heavy use of aircraft these days. 

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry are among the agencies and jurisdictions that keep firefighters on standby for the ground and the air. 

W.W. Norton Books

Practically overnight, Zika virus has gone from "what's that?" to "oh no, Zika?" 

From the justified concerns about birth defects, to athletes declining to participate in the Olympics out of Zika fears, the virus is now a major health issue worldwide. 

New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil, Jr. cuts through the hype and examines the very real concerns with the disease in his book Zika


Basic Rights Oregon works hard to ensure the rights of members of the LGBTQ community. 

And for nearly a decade, it has been counting gains in those rights, under the direction of Executive Director Jeana Frazzini. 

During Frazzini's tenure, LGBTQ people racked up victories in a number of policy areas, all the way up to marriage equality. 

Frazzini steps down from her role at BRO in a matter of days. 

Victor M. Vicente Selvas/Wikimedia

Irrigation is not a new idea, but farmers in our region once got through the growing season without it. 

Dryland farming, it's called; and it requires careful choices in crops and careful conservation of water. 

Dryland farming is still practiced at the Hanley Farm of the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  It involves a LOT of mulch. 

Hanley Farm Agricultural Manager Rion Glynn visits with details of the work... and the results.  

Viking Press

Lessons we learn in childhood tend to stick with us. Stove tops burn. Dogs bite. Some lessons, though, can keep us stuck in unfulfilling pursuits in adulthood.

Author Rosamund Stone Zander says the stories we write may keep us from enjoying each other and ourselves.

Her latest book is Pathways to Possibility


Independence Day marks a day of freedom from live broadcasting for the Exchange crew. 

While we're out enjoying parades and fireworks (or just catching up on sleep), you can catch up on a couple of programs from the past. 

At 8: Marcus Rediker tells the story of the slaves who mutinied against their captors, in The Amistad Rebellion

At 9: Stephanie Coontz recalls the early days of the feminist movement of the 1960s in her book A Strange Stirring

Benjamin Esham/Wikimedia

July is here, and independence celebrations abound!  We add fireworks shows to the entertainment list with this month's First Friday segment. 

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 helps that the word "mural" is the same in Spanish. 

Because Ashland unveiled a new one this week, on the pedestrian walkway known as Calle Guanajuato. 

The  name comes from Ashland's sister city in Mexico, which also provided the mural painter. 

Laura Rangel Villaseñor--she prefers Loreta--came north to work on the project and see its unveiling.

Our tongues may trip over the term "anthropocene," so let's make this statement: people have changed Earth, in profound ways.  If we truly wanted to restore nature as we found it, how would we go about it? 

That's one of the questions raised by Jordan Fisher Smith in his book Engineering Eden

It begins with a man killed by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park, and continues to a court case that set two brilliant biologists against each other. 


Firefighters probably wish the Continental Congress had declared independence in November. 

Then, at least, the chances of fireworks starting a grass fire would be limited. 

But the fireworks-heavy holiday is in dry July, and comes with frequent warnings about the safe use of legal fireworks, where they are permitted. 

The Oregon Fire Marshal's office puts out many of those warnings. 


Blueberries taste good, especially between layers of sweet, flaky pastry. 

Pardon the pie reverie; now down to the science. 

Karen Avinelis is a blueberry grower, and has learned a few things about coaxing the fruit to deliver taste and nutrition. 

luminare press

Eugene is now home to about five times as many people as it held in 1950. 

"Leaps and bounds" might be an understatement when it comes to growth. 

Sara Jeanne Duncan Widness remembers the quiet days, and shares her memories in her book The Dusky Afternoon


There's no place like home, but home is looking different over time. 

Oregon and California are both home to unique flora and fauna, and the flora is displaying notable changes. 

Susan Harrison from the University of California-Davis studies plant diversity, and she notices less of that diversity as drought and climate change take root in the region. 


We've been learning of late what happens when there's an even number of Supreme Court justices. 

When there's a tie, a lower court ruling stands.  And stand it did, in the case brought by Texas against President Obama's executive action to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. 

Which means deportation is now a stronger possibility for people who hoped to be able to stay in the country. 

Immigration lawyer John Almaguer is well-versed in the nuances of the laws now on the books. 

We continue our discussion of immigration into VENTSday, through the lens of the Supreme Court decision and the UK's departure from the EU.

Give us your thoughts on how, if at all, immigration should be handled differently. 

Topic two: Legal marijuana in Oregon reaches its first birthday; we want your impressions of success, failure, or meh?   

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 online (see 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.

William Morrow Books

Mel and Annalee Jacoby were journalists who shared a love for Asia and for each other.  They got married in Manila--in November 1941. 

With the attack on Pearl Harbor and their knowledge of China, they quickly realized their lives were in danger as the Japanese military approached. 

The story of their attempt to stay out of enemy hands is told in Bill Lascher's book Eve Of A Hundred Midnights

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Electric car owners can zip up Interstate Five from fast charger to fast charger in Oregon and Washington, thanks to the creation of the West Coast Electric Highway

California is getting ready to join the party, with funding identified for charging stations along I-5 and highway 99.  Work on the California end could be approved in July by the California Energy Commission

This gives us a chance to check in with the people in charge of the chargers (sorry), to hear how much use the system is getting. 

Workman Publishing

Generations of boys brought spice racks, memo bins, and similar objects home from school. 

They were the products of shop class.  Likewise, girls came home with cakes and dresses and other items they baked or cooked or sewed in home economics ("home ec") class. 

Those courses are less common now, but the need for the skills still exists. 

Sharon and David Bowers compiled many of those skills into a book called The Useful Book

Viking Press

In theory, America is the land of opportunity: anyone can do anything, and we are not a country of strong class lines.  That's the theory. 

The recent debates about inequality remind us that people who don't make much money have a hard time getting to a position to make more. 

Historian and author Nancy Isenberg says it's not a new situation.  She is the author of the newly released White Trash

The book tracks the accomplishments and abuses of (and on) poor white people since colonial days.