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.

Comedy fans may have known who Michelle Wolf is, but the rest of the country learned her name after the recent White House Correspondents Dinner. 

Wolf's razzing of reporters and administration mouthpieces is just one of many developments in the media in the last month. 

And it will come up for discussion when we reconvene with Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay of the Southern Oregon University Communication faculty.  They visit once a month for an omnivorous media segment we call Signals & Noise. 

carolynabooth/Pixabay

We invited the Grim Reaper as a guest, but she's booked pretty solid, so we welcome The Green Reaper (yes, that's her nickname).

Funeral customs in the U.S. are generally not very kind to the planet. Conventional funerals use tons of wood, concrete, and metals for caskets and tombs, as well as millions of gallons of embalming fluid, which can be carcinogenic.

Elizabeth Fournier, the owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon, thinks there's a better way. In her new book The Green Burial Guidebook, she gives a comprehensive look at alternatives.

Brian Turner via Flickr

Charles Longjaw had already admitted to a killing in Oregon and a rape in Washington.  Yet he was released from custody in 2015, and charged with committing another murder the next year. 

The situation comes back to the law under which he was found "guilty except for insanity."  GEI verdicts, as they are known, can lead to offenders being released despite predictions of danger. 

The non-profit news organization ProPublica uncovered issues with the law in a joint project with the Malheur Enterprise. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1243835

Drought and wet years tend to alternate in our part of the world.  We get used to a winter with little snow followed by one with above-average snowpack. 

But computer climate models show the situation getting worse as the planet warms, with something like a "precipitation whiplash" effect: deep and prolonged droughts followed by deluges. 

AlexVan/Pixabay

We stopped the "warehousing" of people with mental illness years ago.  Or did we? 

The huge state hospitals with thousands of residents are generally gone, but our jail and prison population has boomed. 

And there's plenty of evidence that the two trends are related... like the fact that up to half of the people in lockup have psychiatric disorders. 

Journalist Alisa Roth researched the trends and the people they represent for her book  Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness

Google Street View via ashlandfood.coop

There is a pressing need for affordable housing all around the region, especially in pricey Ashland.  And now there's a possibility that a grocery store could provide some help. 

The Ashland Food Co-op recently announced a deal to buy a parcel of land across the railroad tracks from its current location. 

The parcel is big enough for a bigger store and more parking, but could also have space left over for "workforce housing." 

Tales of people fighting fires go way back in the region.  And there's a special aura of mystery and romance around smokejumpers, people who actually jump out of planes (yes, with parachutes) to fight wildfires. 

Mystery and romance?  More like grunts and groans, from the tales of the smokejumpers themselves. 

The physical conditioning they undergo to be ready for action is challenging, to say the least. 

This month's Stories of Southern Oregon features a return visit from Gary Buck of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum near Cave Junction. 

Wikimedia

Silent since her death in 1959, the voice of Billie Holiday still echoes for generations of Americans. 

The story of "Lady Day" has been told many times, but author Tracy Fessenden tells the story of Holiday's music with a religious focus.  Fessenden's book is Religion Around Billie Holiday, and it explores religious influences ranging from Holiday's time in a convent as a child to the Jewish predominance in the Tin Pan Alley pop music culture. 

Each helped shape the work of the singer who flamed out too early at age 44. 

Pixabay

Paint your skin green, stagger around like your joints hurt, and make sounds like "arrrrr!" and people will generally get it: you're Frankenstein's monster.  Dr. Frankenstein's creation is actually 200 years old this year; Mary Shelley's little book came out in early 1818. 

And yet we still make new movies and plays and even musicals about the mad scientist and his creation of life from death. 

Ashland author Tod Davies has some ideas about the durability of the characters and story.  She talks about the "Monster Hit" in a lecture coming up at Southern Oregon University's library (May 10). 

Irvin calicut, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16024219

It's one of the worst sounds you can hear coming from under your vehicle... that grinding sound when you step on the brakes, indicating something has worn out and needs to be replaced.  But which something? 

That's among the questions we have for Zach Edwards, the owner of Ashland Automotive, as he returns for another edition of The Squeaky Wheel, our monthly visit on car care and feeding. 

But we won't limit the discussion to how the car stops. 

For four straight elections, Oregon U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) has faced Republican Art Robinson in the general election for the 4th Congressional District. 

That could change this November, because Robinson faces several opponents in the primary election next week (May 15th; ballots went out in late April). 

Curry County Commissioner Court Boice also is making a bid for a move to Washington, along with Jo Rae Perkins of Albany, Michael Polen of Grants Pass, and Stefan Strek of Pleasant Hill. 

The fourth district is big, running from the California state line up to the Mid-Willamette Valley, and including the whole South Coast. 

oliviamillerschin.com

The days are longer, the weather is (mostly) warmer, and the outdoor concert season is not far away.  About a month away, it seems. 

But there are plenty of arts events to see, hear, and celebrate in May.  And we provide airtime to talk about them in our First Friday Arts segment. 

It's what the Web calls "user-generated content"... we open the phone lines at 800-838-3760 and invite people to call with details on events large and small, on stage or in galleries, in the month of May. 

Maybe you're not quite ready to duplicate the trip Cheryl Strayed took in "Wild": hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington. 

So you could be a "section hiker," taking trips on shorter sections of the PCT.  Philip Kramer has a book for you, his newly-released Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Northern California
Section Hiking from Tuolumne Meadows to Donomore Pass

It's part of a series that lays out the whole PCT in sections. 

Wikimedia

It is true that Plato and Socrates did not create works with titles like "Maximizing Happiness in Your Life." 

But they did address the subject of happiness in their philosophy.  So did many other philosophers through the years, a fact capitalized upon by modern philosopher Frederic Lenoir. 

He culls the ranks of philosophers past and present for the material in his book, Happiness: A Philosopher's Guide

Jacoplane, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1276885

It is possible that additional doses of vitamin D could reduce the risk of babies being born prematurely. 

But nobody who makes or sells vitamin D can make that claim; the federal government has not approved it. 

With mounting evidence, the Organic & Natural Health Association recently petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow vitamin D products to claim reduced risk for pre-term birth. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

The "silver tsunami" is well underway.  Children born during the American baby boom are all in their mid-50s and older now, many looking for places to spend their time after retirement. 

Does a "senior center" even appeal to them?  The country has plenty of them, and they provide a variety of services. 

Oregon's State Unit on Aging keeps tabs on many programs available to seniors. 

Wikimedia

Maybe the details become murky over time, but just the name of America's most complicated war says volumes: Vietnam. 

58,000 people died fighting for the United States, and the country itself divided sharply over the war, leaving a permanent scar. 

Elizabeth Partridge protested the war as a teenager in Berkeley; she offers an overview of the war to a new generation in the lavishly-illustrated book Boots On The Ground: America's War In Vietnam

boblog111.com

Josh Gross is a musician, but we dare not ask who his influences are.  We might be listening all day. 

Safe to say that Josh loves music in many forms, and he gets to demonstrate it by making his own AND by covering the music of others in his work for the Rogue Valley Messenger

We plug Josh into the Exchange once a month in a segment we call Rogue Sounds. 

Brian Turner via Flickr

Our society oscillates in our approach to criminal justice, between punishment and rehabilitation. 

The concept of "restorative justice" takes rehabilitation a step further.  It involves healing the harm done by crime, when possible, and re-integrating offenders into society, sometimes with face-to-face meetings between people on both ends of a criminal act. 

The Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice in Medford (formerly Mediation Works) organized the upcoming Northwest Justice Forum.  Restorative justice is central to the mission of the forum. 

U of California

Latinos are California's largest single minority group.  But Latinos can be hard to find among the faculty and administration of California's public colleges, both two- and four-year. 

And that's not the only group under-represented.  69% of students are diverse, but 60% of college faculty and senior leadership are white. 

The Campaign for College Opportunity documents the trends in a recent report

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