John Baxter

Jefferson Exchange Producer

John Baxter's history at JPR reaches back three decades.  John was the JPR program director who was the architect of the split from a single station into three separate program services.  We're thrilled that John has taken a hiatus from his retirement to join JPR as interim producer of the Jefferson Exchange.

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When you think of a robbery at a museum, you probably picture a valuable painting, or some artifact from antiquity.  But dead birds? 

It happened, at the Tring Museum in Greater London.  A man obsessed with exotic bird feathers stole hundreds of old bird skins from the museum and disappeared. 

Enter the man obsessed with flyfishing, and we get a book: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson, the flyfisher, tracked the story and the players for several years for his book. 

Ansgar Walk, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=757797

It makes sense in principle: icebergs and ice sheets in the polar regions melt, and add water to the oceans. 

So the oceans rise.  But HOW?  That's the question researched in great detail by Dave Sutherland in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oregon. 

His research focuses not just on the melting, but where the water goes, horizontally and vertically.  Sutherland's work takes him to Greenland and Alaska, among other places. 

Giaccai, Italian Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34448012

John Kalb is a chiropractor in Ashland, but his health interests go well beyond bones and joints. 

He focuses on the brain in his second book, Keep Your Marbles

It's addressed to fellow baby boomers who notice changes in how their brains work (and occasionally do not seem to work).  Think of it as a tuneup and maintenance guide for the aging brain. 

The booming cannabis business may be good for many people, but there are other impacts to consider.  Like what happens to the people who want to keep growing food when the farms around them begin growing cannabis? 

The Rogue Valley Food System Network wanted an answer to that question, so it teamed up with Southern Oregon University to explore the issues. 

Environmental scientist Vincent Smith led the work; he presented it in a recent public lecture

socompasshouse.org

If you break a leg or come down with a disease that confines you to bed, people generally know what to do.  But that's physical illness. 

Mental illness presents a different set of challenges in diagnosis and treatment. 

All of the members of Southern Oregon Compass House in Medford learned this firsthand. 

Once a month, we visit with clubhouse members and staffers to explore issues in mental illness, issues we're often hearing about for the first time. 

The lands around us are crisscrossed with trails used by the serious long-distance hikers and the just-an-hour plodders as well. 

Legislation passed in 2016 requires the U.S. Forest Service to move toward a sustainable trail system... sustainable environmentally and economically. 

And the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is getting started on its compliance, holding public meetings and making other moves to assess public needs and interest. 

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. 

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. 

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