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.


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. 

Julien Pellet/Wikimedia

Somehow, even the dry inland parts of our region can be home to many mosquitoes. 

Hang around any grassy area around sunset, and you're likely to get a sense of how prevalent they are. 

Jackson County Vector Control works to keep mosquito populations down through a variety of means.  And some of those means do not pass muster with citizen groups. 

Protect Jackson County, for one, opposes the group of chemicals known as pyrethroids.  We hear both sides of the discussion in turn... Vector Control Manager Jim Lunders checks in first with a sense of the mission of his agency and how it goes about its work. 


Break out the guitars, it's time to brush up on our skills.  But wait, which guitar style? 

Doesn't matter... an upcoming guitar workshop set up by the Britt Festivals in Medford features styles ranging from classical to Hawaiian slack key. 

And we get the benefit of the assemblage of teachers and styles, as Grant Ruiz, Michael "Hawkeye" Herman, and Joe Thompson bring guitars to the studio for a mini-performance across several general genres. 


Every approach to government programs gets tweaked from time to time.  Police work is no different. 

Long before Ferguson and all the police/citizen confrontations that have followed, several departments instituted "community policing." 

To better understand what that means, we assembled a panel consisting of Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp, Eureka Police Captain Brian Stephens, and Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara (there may be others). 

University of California Press

We hop into the time machine for this hour, revisiting an early 2014 interview with Randy Shaw about his book The Activist's Handbook

The more recent version of the book is itself an updating of an earlier edition. 

In an age of ubiquitous smart phones and social media, activism has new tools at its disposal. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Maybe you drive past quickly on your way to the beach, but those wetlands on the coast are important places.

They teem with life, and are important ecosystems for both saltwater and freshwater creatures.  That's why they get considerable attention from people concerned about the environment. 

The Winter Lake Restoration Project in the Coquille River Estuary is about making better habitat for fish and other river dwellers. 


You've probably seen packages in food stores of products containing "ancient grains."  It does NOT mean they've been on the shelf for a while. 

Our ancestors grew different crops from what we grow and eat now, and some of the old ones offered benefits missing from today's food. 

Dr. Jayanath Abeywickrama--he goes by "Dr. Abey"--is a proponent of growing and eating rice varieties from 2,000 years ago. 

Gifford Photographic Collection

Natural history and the arts collide when the Britt Festivals Orchestra plays at Crater Lake later this week (July 29-30). 

A portion of the orchestra, plus student ensemble, plus chorus, perform a new work called "Natural History." 

The piece is commissioned by Britt and composed by Michael Gordon. 


  One down, one to go: the national political party conventions are nearly complete. 

So it's time to open the floor (and phones and email) for your thoughts on what you've seen so far from the Republicans and Democrats?  Encouraged?  Nonplussed?  Hiding under the bed?  Let's hear from you. 

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, set up a survey (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 or email

Public Domain

  Can we truly have a representative democracy if the mix of representatives is not similar to the mix in society?  White men still dominate most elective political positions. 

You can't blame Cathy Allen for that.  In her work for the National Women's Political Caucus and through her own company in Seattle, she's been working for years to get women into positions of power. 


The same people who pointed out how many critters live in our houses are now doing the same thing for our faces.  Yes, faces. 

We learned in a previous interview how many arthropods live in our houses with us; now they're back to tell us about face mites.  Yes, face mites. 

Call them demodex if it makes you feel better, but they live in our pores. 

Michelle Trautwein from the California Academy of Sciences is the messenger with the weird news. 


No federal agency is responsible for managing as much land as the Bureau of Land Management. 

And no BLM district in the country has more people working for it than the Medford District.  So it's a big job; somebody's got to do it. 

That somebody is now Elizabeth Burghard, appointed to the post this year to replace Dayne Barron.