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.

"We've got to stop meeting like this," said NO ONE in the race for California Congressional District 2.  Incumbent Democrat Jared Huffman and Republican Dale Mensing appear headed to a November pairing for the second straight election.

Huffman pulled in nearly 70 percent of the vote in early returns, while Mensing polled under 20 percent in a race that featured one other Democrat and an independent.  In the top-two primary system, that's enough to send Huffman and Mensing on to a November matchup.

Huffman first won election to Congress in 2012.  Mensing works as a grocery cashier in Garberville.

The race for California's First Congressional District in November will be a rematch of the race of four years ago.  Incumbent Republican Doug La Malfa will face Democrat Jim Reed again. 

La Malfa came away with the most primary votes in the heavily rural, heavily Republican district.  No candidate gained a majority in the seven-way primary.  But La Malfa pulled in roughly 41 percent of the vote in early counts.

Reed, a lawyer with offices in three cities, followed La Malfa with roughly 29 percent.  Republican Joe Montes pulled in third with less than 20 percent, but none of the other candidates cleared ten percent support.  The primary featured four Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent.

Reed and La Malfa faced each other once before, in 2012, the election to replace retiring Republican Wally Herger.  La Malfa won reelection in 2014 over Democrat Heidi Hall; Reed ran for State Assembly and lost.

California and five other states close out the presidential primary season with their votes on June 7. 

Now it's on to the presidential nominating conventions, and all eyes on the final two major party candidates. 

Theirs are by no means the only voices heard in campaign season.  An entrepreneur and former prison inmate named Chris Wilson was featured in a long video ad in the closing days of Bernie Sanders' campaign in California. 

It's all over but the conventions.  Oh, and five more months of campaigning. 

California's primary all but concludes primary season; now it's time to hear from you about the choices we've been presented.  That's one of our VENTSday topics. 

The other: how the media affected this year's presidential campaigns. 

Listeners take center stage on our weekly VENTSday segment, a chance to vent on a couple of topics in the news--by phone, by email, or through our online survey. We provide the topics, you provide the opinions.


Civil rights legislation passed in the mid-60s, but attitudes took longer to change. 

And the institutions of racism linger to this day.  Those include the continued presence of the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists, albeit far weaker than in its heyday. 

One contributing factor: a successful lawsuit against the United Klans of America by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Morris Dees.  Laurence Leamer's book The Lynching tells the story of the horrific crime that led to the lawsuit, and the suit's lingering impact. 


The term "police force" becomes ominous to people when the words "use of" appear between them.

No history lesson is necessary to understand that how police use force against fellow citizens is very much in the news, for a couple of years now. 

Oregon Humanities and several other groups are determined to let people discuss the issues; a public forum on Wednesday (June 8) in Eugene addresses police accountability and force, with an eye to possible legislation. 

NAACP Lane County President Eric Richardson moderates and joins us for a preview.  We also bring in  Marianne Dugan, a civil rights attorney; Erious Johnson, Jr. from the Oregon Department of Justice; Oregon State Rep. Lew Frederick, and Daryl Turner from the Portland Police Association.

Cornell University Press

Listen carefully to people in the political system who complain about the uneven distribution of wealth.  They are generally very careful to say that they have no problem with capitalism itself. 

Psychology professor John Ehrenreich takes issue with the KIND of capitalism currently in vogue. 

A system in which some people make piles of money but wages stagnate for the middle and bottom of the wage ladder get their own term: Third Wave Capitalism. 


Even if you've taken a side in the debate over vaccines, you will probably want to hear Dr. Andrea Ferrante out. 

Ferrante is an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and he's just received a grant to study the molecular processes that make vaccines work. 

If your first response is "huh?"... consider this: the creator of vaccines, Edward Jenner, had no idea WHY vaccines worked, and even today's scientists have plenty of questions. 

Jan Jankovic/wikimedia

Recoveries from recessions do not affect all sectors of society equally, we've learned. 

Just ask older workers who lost jobs in the Great Recession.  They've had some bumps and bruises on the way to finding jobs that match their qualifications and salary requirements. 

The Successful Aging Institute at Lane Community College takes note of the trend, and offers an evening workshop on job-hunting resources for workers 50 and up, Tuesday (June 7) at the Eugene Library, downtown. 

Basic Books

You know that thing Americans do, coming together in a time of need?  Not happening at the moment, it can be argued.

And there's plenty of evidence of need... for better-paying jobs, cheaper housing, and general resuscitation of the middle class. 

Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, calls the situation--and his latest book--The Fractured Republic

In Levin's analysis, both left and right are looking back to "good old days" when they should be looking forward.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

June is a big month for the arts, because so much activity shifts out-of-doors: outdoor plays, outdoor concerts, outdoor festivals.  You'll hear a few on June's First Friday Arts 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.

When you have a long history in music, you can reach back for some great tunes from the past. 

That's the basic idea behind "Zepdrix," a show coming to the Rogue Theatre in Grants Pass on June 10.  The name should tell you it's got a song or two from the 60s in it. 

Zepdrix is just one of the projects of Ashland couple Inger Jorgensen and Jeff Pevar.  Pevar is a world-class guitarist with a long resume; Jorgensen is a singer and artist. 

Basic Books

Time for a question: has anyone actually known a welfare queen or a limousine liberal?  Both are terms wielded, or at least once wielded, by the American right wing to impeach the thinking and policies of political opponents. 

Historian Steve Fraser, in a new book called The Limousine Liberal, focuses on that particular term. 

Fraser says understanding its birth and use is central to understanding the opposition to liberal elites, even today. 


Paul Ehrlich scared a lot of people with his book "The Population Bomb" in 1968. 

That same year, the group ZPG--Zero Population Growth--was born.  The dire predictions Ehrlich laid out have largely not come to pass--some people say "yet"--but the concern about the world getting overpopulated remains. 

ZPG is still on the scene, but with a different name: Population Connection

Project Smoke

Steven Raichlen spends so much time around barbecue grills and smokers, we're not sure how he finds time to write books. 

And host a TV show, "Project Smoke," on public TV. 

But he does both, with another book out and a second season of the show on the air. 


Donnell Alexander only gets 90 minutes to speak at the Eugene Library Thursday Night (June 2). 

And that's a shame, because he has a lot to say about a lot of things.  Like what it's like to be an African-American in Portland, which he described as feeling like "a sitting black duck." 

Like his visit with the extremists who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January, or his documentary on the only (known) major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter while tripping on LSD (Dock Ellis). 

Alexander is journalist, writer, film producer, radio producer... that's just the short list. 

Peltier Art Gallery Facebook page

Leonard Peltier went to prison 40 years ago, convicted in the shooting of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

To this day, supporters say Peltier is being held as a political prisoner, punished for his role in the American Indian Movement. 

Now his son Chauncey, an Oregon resident, is ignoring his father's advice to avoid the legal morass surrounding Peltier senior.  Chauncey curates and sells the artwork his father creates in prison. 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

It's entirely possible that this year will end without Garland Merrick heading for the Supreme Court, and without Bernie Sanders heading for the White House. 

Neither prospect excites Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.  Merkley, in his second term, is one of many senators trying to push the Republican leadership to hold hearings and a vote on the Supreme Court vacancy. 

And he's the ONLY senator to publicly endorse Sanders' campaign for president. 

For this week's VENTSday, we invite you to either stand in line or defend your neighborhood.  Or both.

First, airport lines: how would you fix the TSA to keep people from missing flights in security lines?

And while we're on security, let's talk neighborhood watches and other citizens efforts: is law enforcement in short supply where you live, and how do you and your neighbors compensate?

Listeners take center stage on our weekly VENTSday segment, a chance to vent on a couple of topics in the news--by phone, by email, or through our online survey. We provide the topics, you provide the opinions. No expertise necessary; just opinions and the ability to express them in a radio-friendly way.

We post our weekly survey on one or both of the topics in advance.

Basic Books

Tired of the rhetoric in this year's political campaigns?  There's a lot more of it coming, and some of it might be uplifting. 

If you take that optimistic viewpoint, you'll likely have company in British writer and editor Sam Leith.  He views the high and low points of the history of persuasive speech in his book Words Like Loaded Pistols

From Cicero to Simpson (Homer), it's a rich history.