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.

Tiia Monto, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Housing is tight in much of Oregon, and the state legislature is aware of the problem. 

While the current session considers measures like rent control, some state agencies are making moves authorized by previous sessions. 

Case in point: a pilot project to allow two Oregon cities to speed up the process of building affordable housing by fast-tracking expansions of urban growth boundaries. 

The project is administered by the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). 

WiLPrZ, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Many women find it tough to go back to work after delivering a child. 

But economic realities limit most American women to around ten weeks off with the new baby. 

It's a critical time for the child's development, as Erica Komisar points out in her book Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters

Komisar, a psychotherapist, points out the many ways in which children develop more fully with mom's attention. 


Most of us will not meet a funeral director until someone we know and love has already died.

It does not have to be that way, and organizations like the Living/Dying Alliance of Southern Oregon put on events to encourage people to learn more about death and dying, and their rights as they die. 

They also provide chances to get to know funeral directors, including Kate Swenson, a 30-something apprentice.  She dispels the myth of funeral directors as older men in gray suits. 


Happy Tax Day!  Is that an appropriate greeting?  We got extra time past the usual April 15th deadline, but tonight is the night our tax returns must be filed.

T.R. Reid is a journalist and author well-known to NPR audiences. 

He compares the American tax system to those of other countries in his newest book, A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System

In general, he finds we PAY less than people in other countries, but our system is much more complicated. 

Wisconsin Blue Book, 1885

We've certainly changed a few things about our approach to mental illness. 

The days of gigantic state hospitals "warehousing" mental patients are generally behind us.  But what's replaced that system has issues of its own. 

Those are issues Ron Powers explores in his book Nobody Cares About Crazy People

It is history and current affairs, but also biography and memoir, because Powers had two sons who struggled with schizophrenia. 

Mary Landberg

For 20 years now, Oregon law has allowed people with terminal illnesses to get prescriptions for drugs to end their own lives. 

Other states have followed, but there's been little research into the use and effectiveness of assisted suicide/physician-aided dying. 

That changes with a recently published report that went through the records of people ending their own lives legally in Oregon.  It's not a big number, with 218 people requesting prescriptions in the most recent year counted (2015).  But the number is increasing by the year. 

Dr. Charles Blanke of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University is the lead author of the report. 

Frank Miller for Oregon Arts Commission

The term "ecology" tends to spur thoughts of environmental sensitivity and conservation. 

But people in the visual arts world use the term, too.  And the Oregon Visual Arts Ecology Project provides a web page to let people explore the visual arts in the state, without having to travel to every museum or gallery. 

Meagan Atiyeh is the visual arts coordinator at the Oregon Arts Commission. 

dozenist, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Status starts with your mouth.  Seriously, people who have unattractive or missing teeth often make concerted efforts not to smile. 

And society judges people with missing or discolored teeth harshly.  Journalist Mary Otto demonstrates, with many examples, in her book Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

Inequality is a big part of the story, because the benefits of good dental health are not evenly distributed.  And teeth don't get the same insurance as the rest of the body. 

颐园新居, CC BY-SA 4.0,

They're pretty and they provide shade, but trees mean more than that to non-human species. 

The trees are homes for many animals, and arborists like Brian French encourage people to maintain trees for habitat. 

They don't even have to be living trees to qualify as habitat trees.

Few of us are equipped to understand the challenges of mental illness. 

And that's why we hear the voices of people struggling with mental health in our monthly segment "Compass Radio." 

It is co-produced by Compass House in Medford, a center that functions on the clubhouse model of mental health care. 

Two Compass House residents talk about the biggest accomplishments in their lives, in recordings at the house.

Three Exchange guests from the last couple of years turned up on the list of Pulitzer Prize winners recently announced. 

They include Heather Ann Thompson, who won the Pulitzer for history for her book  Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

It's a powerful story of one of the country's best-known, and as it turns out, least understood prison uprisings. 

Tuxyso, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It's easy to stand near California's giant sequoia trees with your jaw hanging open. 

It's less easy to understand how they could possibly get enough nutrition to grow so big.  One recent study shows that dust blowing from far away adds to the nutrition. 

The dust blows all the way from China's Gobi Desert, says Emma Aronson at the University of California-Riverside. 

All you need is a phone that reaches the Internet.  And with that in your hand, your media options are limitless.  In this media age, it can be hard to separate the signals from the noise. 

Which is why we take time each month for a media perusal, called "Signals & Noise," with members of the communications faculty at Southern Oregon University. 

This month we visit with Andrew Gay and Christopher Lucas about Pulitzer Prize winners, crowdfunding for documentary films, and other issues on the media horizon. 

Siskiyou Music Project

Multiple guitars visit the studio when the Britt Guitar Trio returns for tunes and talk. 

The trio consists of Page Hamilton, Grant Ruiz, and Ed Dunsavage, who play guitar in several styles.  They will be central to the Britt Guitar Weekend in June at the Britt Festival grounds in Jacksonville. 

And they'll raise money for scholarships to that mini-camp with a concert in the Rogue Valley this weekend (Friday, April 14). 


It was just in the last couple of years we had a chat with a California snowpack observer, who reminded us that it's not just the Siskiyous and the Sierra and the San Gabriels that provide water to California... it's also the Rockies. 

Many states lay claim to the waters of the Colorado River. 

And that is just one of many issues facing the stream.  When it IS a stream.  Most of the time, it just dies in the desert. 

New Yorker staff writer David Owen follows the stream and the people who depend upon it, in his book Where the Water Goes

Carl Fredrickson, CC BY 2.0,

Travel is supposed to help us grow as people. 

And we often do, finding things inside of us that we did not know about. 

That was Susan Conrad's experience as she paddled a sea kayak along the 1800-mile Inside Passage. 

She describes the trip in her book Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage

Alex from Ithaca, NY, CC BY 2.0,

If you are concerned about environmental degradation and your government is not, can you sue it?  Count on a firm YES from Mary Christina Wood. 

She is a professor at the University of Oregon's law school, and director of its Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center

Issues like climate change, where governments in our country have been slow to respond, have gotten particular attention at the center. 

Nevit Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0,

One of the major lessons we've learned about the world around us is the lesson of inter-connectivity. 

The parts of nature depend upon one another--and that includes humans--and severing connections can throw nature out of balance. 

How important are trees to connecting the parts of nature?  Very, say several people. 

They include David George Haskell, who follows the fate of single trees in several parts of the world in The Songs of Trees


The area around Clovis, New Mexico yielded many archaeological treasures over the years. 

That's why the earliest human inhabitants of North America are generally referred to as The Clovis People.  But digs in Southeastern Oregon continue to turn up finds that pre-date Clovis sites. 

The University of Oregon has devoted faculty and students to digs in the region, including at the Rimrock Draw site. 


Stories about drug addiction tend to have some common themes. 

One of them is that people often think that they will NOT get addicted.  And they're usually wrong. 

Kyle Simpson was a happy college student, by his own description.  But he got addicted to drugs and had to fight his way back to the life he'd known. 

He made a documentary about his experience, called simply "Junk."  It screens on Tuesday (April 11) at Southern Oregon University.