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.

Susan Jacoby scanned the American culture and found a prevalence of what she calls "junk thought." 

So she wrote a book, The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies.  And that was nine years ago. 

Just think of how much more there is to talk about now, in the age of daily lies from public figures and cries of "fake news." 

Susan Jacoby updated her book to include the current political players and the likes of Breitbart News and Twitter, all contained in a new paperback edition. 

Not all of the Democrats sat in silence during President Trump's recent State of the Union address. 

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley stayed busy during the speech, or at least his Twitter account did. 

Merkley tweeted many responses to the president's remarks, and he's had much to say in the days since. 

US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons

Lots of people are pulling for monarch butterflies to make a comeback.  But the numbers from the Thanksgiving count of last fall show a continued decline in monarch numbers in California. 

And that's despite the counters making it to more locations. 

The Thanksgiving count is now in its third decade, and the overall trend has been consistently downward... even though more and more people are creating monarch-friendly gardens and waystations. 

Emma Pelton leads the monarch program at the Portland-based Xerces Society

Maybe a third of a million people came to California for the gold rush of 1849, and easily thousands more have come to the West since.  Many of them had little to show for their efforts. 

But not Glenn Wadstein.  He mined Jackson County's Sterling Creek for gold for a decade and a half at the end of the last century, and he claims to have pulled POUNDS of gold out of the stream. 

What did he do with his gains, and what kind of shape did he leave the creek in?  These and more questions are answered in Wadstein's video story at the Southern Oregon Digital Archives at Southern Oregon University. 

This is the latest chapter in Stories of Southern Oregon. 

Raya Sharbain, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Are you ready to be a "kindness warrior?"  Tara Cousineau considers herself one; the rest of the world would probably pigeonhole her as a clinical and research psychologist. 

And she focuses her work on the tremendous benefits of people being nice to one another and showing some compassion. 

She lays out the science and the practices in her book The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart & Your World

Tomkeene, Public Domain,

For most of us, the pathway is relatively simple: get hungry, eat.  Repeat as necessary. 

But the reality is that many MANY events have to take place for us to have food to eat. 

The University of Oregon is one of a short list of schools that include a Food Studies program; it started just five years ago. 

Associate Professor Stephen Wooten, an anthropologist, is the program's director.  He explains all the different disciplines connected through the program, and all the parts of life that food studies can reach. 

Leonard Bernstein, take a bow.  He would if he were here... but the rest of us can celebrate the composer/conductor's life in this, the 100th year since his birth. 

Bernstein pieces will be among the offerings heard in Jacksonville next summer during the Britt Orchestra season. 

July is a long way off, but Britt Music Director Teddy Abrams is in town this week to boost the summer shows. 

Public Domain

Even the happiest life can end in a hospital bed, lit by fluorescent lights.  Which is not how most people say they would like to go. 

So speak up now, says Dr. Samuel Harrington. 

His work focuses on end-of-life care, and helping people make choices long before they are no longer able to participate in decision-making. 

Dr. Harrington's latest book is At Peace: Choosing a Good Death After a Long Life


Pressures from drought to irrigation to marijuana cultivation affect the streams in our region. 

The film "A River's Last Chance" focuses on the Eel River in Humboldt County.  It holds promise as a place for fish populations to recover, but it also faces many pressures on its use. 

The film is one of the headliners at the February 10 Siskiyou Film Fest at the Grants Pass Performing Arts Center.

It can be tough enough to figure out what's wrong with us when something goes wrong physically.  Some ailments just stump doctors. 

It can be far worse with mental health, and people truly suffer when their mental illnesses go undiagnosed or mis-diagnosed. 

In this month's edition of Compass Radio, we hear the story of a man who spent many years not knowing what was wrong with his mind.  The eventual correct diagnosis changed his life. 


Wars in other places can capture great interest abroad.  Just look at how we view events in the Middle East. 

150 years ago, the world watched our Civil War with great interest, waiting to see if freedom and democracy would triumph. 

Historian Don Doyle views the foreign interest in the war in his book The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War

Public Domain

As a biologist, Pepper Trail can appreciate the work of other biologists. 

But he REALLY appreciates the work of Charles Darwin, who did so much to teach the world about how biology works. 

And it's not an arms-length appreciation; Pepper Trail BECOMES Charles Darwin in a lecture called "Voyage to the Origin of Species" coming to the Southern Oregon University Library today (Feb. 8). 

We visit with the biologist--Trail, not Darwin--before the presentation. 


Not all of us are quick learners.  We all  learn in different ways, through different senses. 

And when there's a real obstacle, we speak in terms of "learning disability." 

Redding occupational therapist and physical therapist Suzanne Cresswell prefers to focus on the presence of the word "ability" in the term.  She's spend three decades working with people with learning challenges, or as she prefers, "unique learners." domain

Is it possible the phrase "cry me a river" became common because of Julie London? 

She's the one who made the song by that title famous in the mid-1950s.  And Julie London's sultry style gets a tribute from vocalist Tiffany Cooper, in a new album called "Satin Mood." 

The Siskiyou Project hosts a CD release party on Sunday (February 11) at Paschal Winery near Talent. 

As one of the more-populated counties in the region, Jackson County also has a higher population of homeless people. 

A Homeless Task Force formed years ago, with the goal of getting street people off the streets.  They remain, and have been the target of new laws, like exclusion zones in Medford and Ashland. 

Our survey of homeless people and services, Out in the Cold, surveys Jackson County issues and offerings in this joint interview. 


If you had to choose either brains or money, which would you take? 

A recent study shows there may be a distinction to be made between intelligence and wisdom. 

And it's possible that the poorer you are, the wiser you are

Igor Grossman is a social psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. 


Maybe you enjoy gardening.  But is your garden CERTIFIED? 

Certification is offered for gardens friendly to bees and other pollinators. 

And the City of Talent is putting out some money to challenge local residents to create certified pollinator gardens. 

The Talent Garden Club is taking on much of the work.

The Journey song "Don't Stop Believin'" is a rock anthem, one of the most famous songs of recent history. 

A guitar-driven song, sure, but the drums matter, too.  And the guy who played them lives in Ashland, where he'll play this weekend at the Ashland Jazz Festival

Steve Smith still tours with Journey, but his jazz-fusion group, Vital Information, still records and tours. 

AND Smith creates visual art, too, using his drumsticks to paint a picture of motion. 


Everyone understands that there's a federal budget deficit.  But federal agencies can still create an uproar by raising or instituting fees. 

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest just got an earful about plans to raise many fees at recreation sites in the forest. 

Some would as much as triple under the proposal; others, like charges to stop at the Rogue Gorge site, would be new charges for sites that have been free until now. 


The recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland was not just for national leaders and rich people. 

Plenty of scientists got to hang out there as well, seeking solutions to issues countries can address together.  Those include the new Universities Partnerships for Water Cooperation & Diplomacy, which includes Oregon State University

The basic issue: the world is making new people all the time... but not more water.