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.

Kim Wing, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55316196

The scary face-off between the United States and North Korea has a long history, with a lot of personalities involved.  American presidents and the Kim family, sure.  But have you ever heard of Donald Nichols?  You will now. 

Nichols was a 7th-grade dropout recruited to spy for the Americans on the Korean peninsula after World War II. 

He quickly grew into a master spy and master of black ops, a story told in Blaine Harden's book King of Spies:The Dark Reign of America’s Spymaster in Korea. 

Wikimedia

If you're still driving in Oregon with your hands on a phone, watch out.  A new law takes effect Sunday, October 1st, laying out stiffer restrictions on use of electronic devices behind the wheel. 

A loophole in the old law allowed people to use their devices as long as they were NOT talking on the phone or texting. 

The loophole is gone, to the relief of people like Ray Thomas, a lawyer who watches out for the rights of bicyclists; he's one of our guests. 

And it means a different approach for law enforcement.  Jackson County Sheriff Sgt. Julie Denney visits with Sgt. Jeff Proulx of the Oregon State Police. 

Oscar13SMU, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31065179

It's been a fear in Medford for a long time... that gangs would gain a foothold and drive up the crime rate.  Some of that has come true. 

But Medford Police have a few tools in the toolbox for monitoring and curtailing youth gang activity. 

And Matt Sweeney at Rogue Valley Youth For Christ has a plan to turn an old firehouse into a community center, in the heart of the area with the most gang activity. 

OSF Photo Illustration

The plays of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival show clearly the festival's commitment to diversity.  Characters of all colors and genders appear. 

And the work of OSF extends well beyond the boundaries of its stages.  The education department at the Festival reaches out to the community in a number of ways, including an upcoming project called "Take Them Into the Dirt."

It's an immersive experience--meaning audience involvement--that explores indigenous stories. 

Rob Goodwin, our host for "The Keenest Observers," is part of the project at OSF. 

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

You don't have to sell people in the state of Jefferson on the region's charms.  And tourism certainly helps pay the bills around here. 

But are we getting a rep as a place that's on fire or smoky or both?  It's been a rough fire season, with a number of events canceled by smoke concerns. 

Travel Oregon and Discover Siskiyou are in the business of convincing people they want to come here.  We check in with them to see if that job has become more difficult. 

Centers for Disease Control

Only two students in Ashland schools were confirmed to have pertussis (whooping cough) when Jackson County Health officials declared an outbreak. 

But as they have pointed out in the past, pertussis is not something to take lightly.  It's one of those diseases that had become rare until parents concerned about vaccines stopped having children vaccinated against it. 

Now under-vaccinated students are required to stay out of school for three full weeks, and that includes students who came in contact with the children with confirmed cases.  27 were excluded at first, down to 18 as of September 25th.

Well, this was predictable... after all the experiments with people in real time or "functional" MRI scanners (fMRI), somebody got a dog in there.  And a few other animals as well. 

Snicker if you must, but we now know more about what goes on in the brains of animals. 

And it's pretty fascinating stuff, giving us clues to the mind functions of individual animals. 

Gregory Berns lays out the findings in the book  What It's Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

Eric Mindling, ericmindling.com

Eric Mindling is not a just-scratch-the-surface kind of guy.  When he takes photographs, they convey a deep sense of the people portrayed. 

And when he takes tour groups to Mexico, he skips the tourist spots in favor of an authentic flavor of Oaxaca. 

Mindling keeps an apartment in Ashland, but he's lived in Mexico since 1992, so he's quite knowledgeable about the culture, traditions, and challenges of life off the beaten path. 

lunacyfest.com

The biggest circus in the country may have shut down, but there's plenty of circus left to enjoy. 

In fact, the Rogue Valley is home to a circus academy, Le Cirque Center. 

The center and Ashland's Flying Actor Studio are putting on the first-ever Lunacy Festival, this weekend and next in Ashland.  Circus acts, physical comedy, and music are among the attractions. 

Chad Miller, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10609590

Franklin Foer DOES have a Facebook page, but he hasn't updated it in nearly a year.  Which should come as no surprise once you hear his issues with Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google. 

Foer, the former editor of the New Republic, bashes all four as "Big Tech," and accuses them of damaging our culture and economy, in his book World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech

Whether or not you agree that Big Tech forces conformity and turns our privacy into a commodity, the book will make you think hard about some modern digital conveniences that we quickly took for granted. 

Larry Lamb, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50842347

At its most basic level, fishing is trying to grab an animal out of water with a hook. 

But for the people who do it regularly, it's so much more.  Peace, quiet, accomplishment, fulfillment... it can be all that and more. 

For the organization Healing Waters, it's a way for disabled veterans to feel whole again.  A chapter set up at the VA facility in White City takes vets out for fishing and fly-tying. 

University of Washington Field Methods in Indigenous Archaeology

When we talk about "unearthing history," it's quite literal for archaeologists. 

And while the professionals supervise the work, there's room for amateurs to dig in the ground for clues to the lives of the people who preceded us. 

In this month's installment of "Underground History," our partners at the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology introduce us to the Oregon Archaeological Society

OAS provides volunteers for digs around the state, and provides those volunteers with training. 

sharmanaptrussell.com

"Leave the science to the scientists," you may have heard.  But did you stop and think how many people are scientists? 

Not enough to research all of the interesting things about the world and the universe around us.  So to fill in the gaps, we need some amateurs in the field. 

Amateurs like Sharman Apt Russell, who knows more about tiger beetles than many scientists. 

She wrote Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World and joined us on the Exchange last year. 

nationalservice.gov

Oregon consistently shows up high on the list of states where people go hungry from time to time. 

And a new food insecurity report shows it remains above the national average.  But there is a glimmer of something positive in the news: some of the numbers show a decline in food insecurity. 

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon work to curb food insecurity, as does the food program at Access, Inc. in Jackson County. 

Wikimedia Commons

If it seems like just a few more birds are flying around of late, your powers of observation are acute. 

Plenty of birds are on the move this time of year, heading south for winter breeding and feeding grounds before frost settles in here. 

Klamath Bird Observatory will honor the semi-annual migration with a set of events on Saturday, September 23rd. 

They include a visit from Noah Strycker, world-class birder and record holder.  Noah, from Oregon, saw more than 6,000 bird species in a single year. 

www.inciweb.nwcg.gov

The heavy fire season of this summer is just the latest in what appears to be a growing trend. 

Even fires that are not terribly large or intense can have drastic consequences, large loss of life and property. 

Michael Kodas examines the trend in his book Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame

Crater Lake webcam

A night and a day of rain on much of the region cleared the air in two senses: removing the smoke and lessening the fire danger.

inciweb.gov

Rain.  The word itself sounds pretty after a long stretch of hot weather and fires and smoke. 

And it began falling in the region over the weekend (September 17th), giving hope that the worst of the fires and smoky conditions might be behind us. 

That's not necessarily true, as fire managers remind us.  October can be a big fire month, too, and has been in several fire seasons. 

"Earth Seasoned" Facebook page

We can all stand to learn a few things from nature.  For a young woman named Tori, nature was her primary teacher for most of a year. 

Tori has been diagnosed with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and short-term memory problems. 

She and four other young women spent a year in the Oregon Cascades, living very close to the land. 

The story is told in the documentary film "Earth Seasoned," one of the films in this year's Jefferson State FlixxFest in the Scott Valley. 

Mary Anne Andrei

Running a farm is like running a factory, except you're not quite sure how much you'll produce until the season is over. 

That's just one of many challenges in agriculture, and there are many more, especially for smaller family farmers.  Agri-giant businesses have economies of scale that the small farms lack. 

But plenty of people are still dedicated to growing crops and a livelihood with them, just on a smaller scale. 

Ted Genoways follows a farm family in Nebraska in his took This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm

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