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.

Lindsey G, CC BY 2.0,

Fracking for oil and gas in the United States has proven highly profitable and productive.  But it's not like everyone involved is getting rich and happy. 

Witness the epicenter of the oil boom in the Dakotas: Williston, North Dakota.  Its population exploded with oil workers, stressing the housing market and schools and many more community elements. 

This is the story Blaire Briody tells in The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown.  The book tracks the people who lived in the area before the boom, and the people who came to make the boom. 


High school graduation rates are discouraging in Oregon.  Roughly one out of every four students will not get out of high school in four years with diploma in hand. 

The numbers show slight improvement from year to year (77% in numbers out last week), but not enough to get the state out of the bottom five. 

The legislature will likely discuss programs to improve the graduation rate in its upcoming session. 

The issue is very much on the radar of Colt Gill, newly named as the permanent Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Families with children and little money for housing can end up sleeping at the homes of friends and relatives, or in their cars, or outdoors. 

Douglas County has an answer for homeless young people, with and without parents: Casa de Belen.  It provides transitional housing for homeless young people and their families to get back on their feet. 

We learn more about it as our series Out in the Cold focuses on Douglas County. 

Santa Rosa Junior College

The debate over immigration, legal and not, is of great interest to the artist Maria De Los Angeles.  There was nothing legal about her arrival in California from Mexico at age 11. 

She worked hard, was the first person in her family to graduate from high school, and worked even harder to get to and through college, finishing up at Yale. 

Her art tells her story, including the installation of "Transcending Myths" at the Schneider Museum of Art at Southern Oregon University (through March 17). 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/public domain

Land, not water, is the focus of a Rogue River Regional Master Plan now in the works at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

The corps' Rogue River Project is primarily about dams: Lost Creek, Applegate, and the now-notched Elk Creek Dam.  And the corps owns large chunks of land around each site, land suitable for recreation and other uses. 

The corps is taking public comments until February 2nd on how people would like to see the land used... or not used, as the case may be. 

Google Street View

It was back in May of last year that Josephine County voters said yes, re-open the long-closed juvenile shelter. 

And it took until this month to get there. 

The shelter opened again recently, one sign of services expanded by the property tax levy passed in May. 

Joi Riley/JPR News

The sign can freeze the heart: "Chains Required." 

But it is a fact of life in winter that mountain passes will occasionally get enough snow to make the roads slippery, requiring a little more than the usual tires to get through. 

The transportation departments in both Oregon and California work hard to keep the mountain passes open, but they present challenges. 

Gary Leaming from ODOT explains how the two states coordinate efforts, and how they deploy crews and equipment in winter storms. 

Public Domain

Not all the people we choose to join in relationships are good at it.  Being in relationships, that is. 

Ashland author Sierra Faith notices in particular that narcissists make poor relationship partners. 

She writes of the initial attraction and the predictable problems in Absolutely Adored: Stop Choosing Narcissistic Men and Finally Be a Well-Loved Woman

It contains plenty of advice for recognizing risky relationship partners, and steering clear. 


Can we talk about poop for a moment?  Specifically, raccoon poop in the wild. 

It can provide... well, nutrition for other animals.  But it can also provide parasites. 

So some scientists set out to find out if animals would avoid raccoon bathrooms the way they avoid places where their predators hang out.  An "ecology of fear" is the theory.

Oregon legislators caught a break this week with the passage of Measure 101 (January 23). 

It ratified an earlier legislative decision on new taxes to fund the Oregon Health Plan, Oregon's form of Medicaid for people living on lower incomes.

If the vote had been No, legislators would have had to come up with roughly $300 Million in funding, or accept program cuts somewhere. 

If there was any doubt, our series of interviews "Out in the Cold" has confirmed that every part of our region includes homeless people among its inhabitants. 

We turn our attention to Klamath County, taking in issues for homeless people both young and old. 

Older people face challenges with age-related health issues, in fact sometimes end up homeless because of those issues. 

Meanwhile, families with children struggle to keep up with school when permanent shelter is an issue.  Klamath and Lake Community Action Services, KLCAS, works to address the issues. 

Underground History: The Modoc War In Photos

Jan 24, 2018
Eadward Muybridge/California Historical Society

The Modoc War of the 1870s gets lots of attention from historians, archaeologists, and just folks.  It was a major episode in the defeat of Native Americans at the hands of the federal government, resulting in their movement to reservations. 

And it is the focus of this month's edition of Underground History, our regular visit with Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA)

Chelsea Rose and Mark Tveskov bring in Eric Gleason, who's been doing research on the Modoc War. 

Anastasiaka, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Even people who would describe themselves as consistently happy can run into issues with a marriage partner. 

We are different people, and some friction and disagreements are inevitable between people who spent a lot of years together. 

It may be even truer now that we're living longer, and many of us are determined not to add to the divorce statistics compiled by our parents' generation. 

Psychologist Daphne de Marneffe used the obvious phrase for her book title: The Rough Patch.  The author tracks the stages of most marriages, and the challenges each presents. 

Introvert, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Maybe you're the kind of person who appreciates winter weather far from the beaten path.  If so, would you mind measuring some snow while you're out there? 

No joke here; Community Snow Observations is a citizen science project enlisting the help of backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and other winter recreationists to measure snowpack. 

Scientists and telemetry sites can't cover all the places where snow fall, so this is where the amateurs come in. 

Mark Lincoln/Wikimedia

Bit by bit, emergency service providers and families in the region prepare for what could be a very big earthquake: a movement along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. 

Other parts of the country do not have the localized risk we face.  But they do have something we don't: a major increase in seismic activity in recent years. 

The more frequent quakes appear to be "induced" quakes, caused by human activities like wastewater injection at petroleum sites.  U.S. Geological Survey spends money and staff time investigating the increase. 

Mstyslav Chernov,, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Put the United States 2016 election aside for a moment and consider the rest of the world. 

Countries that we once thought of as reliable democracies are taking turns for the autocratic and nationalistic.  Even Germany has far-right groups in parliament for the first time since the demise of the Nazis. 

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt track the longstanding erosion of political norms in their book How Democracies Die

Rob Manning/OPB

The Northern spotted owl seems to get it from all sides.  Habitat loss and the encroachment of the barred owl have contributed to a continued decline in spotted owl numbers. 

Now the illegal marijuana trade appears to be having an impact as well. 

Spotted owls that gobble up rodents poisoned at illegal grow sites test positive for rodenticide.  A study from the University of California-Davis tracks the occurrence in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties. webcam

Ski season took a while, but it's finally getting close. 

Shasta Ski Park announced plans to open for the season on Wednesday (later pushed back to Friday, January 26), while Mt. Ashland Ski Area could open the slopes to visitors later this week if the expected storms deliver the expected snow. 

Both ski areas are geared to open between Thanksgiving and mid-December, but the weather did not cooperate... and even with recent storms, snow coverage figures to be less than optimum. 

Hiram Towle is the general manager at Mt. Ashland.

Public Domain

The deserts of the West can be vast and forbidding.  And apparently, worth traveling for some black bears. 

A recent study shows bears returning to their old stomping grounds in Nevada, where they were wiped out decades ago. 

To get there, the bears are leaving Northern California and moving great distances to the east. 

Groups that advocate for establishing travel corridors for wildlife, including The Wildlife Conservation Society of North America, are excited about the findings. 

Chromaphonic Recordings

Tiny Yreka is hard enough to find on a map.  It's unlikely place for a regional comedy tour.  

But audiences get a chance to gather and laugh later this week when the "Joker and Jester Comedy Tour" plays some shows at the Music Hall in the Siskiyou County Seat. 

The performances will be filmed for use in a comedy special to be seen on Netflix, so Yreka could get some national recognition.