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.


The Affordable Care Act--Obamacare--put mental health care on par with physical health, as far as health insurance goes.  But insurance does not automatically mean a lot of providers are available. 

And a recent report shows a shortage of mental health (behavioral health, in their lexicon) workers in California. 

Janet Coffman at the University of California-San Francisco led the reporting team; she joins us. 

Yoichi Okamoto, Public Domain,

For a "post-racial" society, we sure talk about race a lot.  And not for the first time. 

50 years ago, a commission appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to investigate the 1967 race riots issued a report that shocked just about everyone and produced little to no action. 

Historian Steven Gillon pulls off that scab in his book  Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism

USAID/Bryce Smedley

Education is not easy in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR).  BBC News calls it "the country where teachers have disappeared." 

Southern Oregon University professor Bryce Smedley recently returned from a trip to CAR to assess educational needs and help train teachers. 

And the work doesn't end now that he's home... Smedley gets his education students at SOU involved with the teachers-in-training back in Africa. 


The Oregon Legislature is not quite as party-divided as Congress, but there's still not a great deal of cooperation between parties. 

So it's notable that legislators of both parties sponsored HB 4005, an effort to keep drug prices from rising too quickly.  The bill requires drug companies to report the costs of research, so at least pricing decisions will be transparent. 

Republican Senator Dennis Linthicum from Klamath County sponsored the bill in the Senate with Democrat Lee Beyer. 


Even the use of the very word "empathy" can produce some interesting gut-level reactions.  Some people feel the need to delve deeper; others just snicker. 

Empathy--the ability to sense what other people feel emotionally--is a handy skill, and helpful in many situations.  But it is often misunderstood as well. 

Cris Beam puts a journalists on fact and myth, theory and practice in the book I Feel You: The Surprising Power of Extreme Empathy

Beatrice Murch, CC 2.0 Generic license.

The United States is a graying country; the median age is near 40. 

In many African countries, the median age is under 20, so it might behoove the world to invest some time and money into understanding teens. 

That is an approach advocated by Nick Allen, University of Oregon professor and director of UO's Center for Digital Mental Health.  He and colleagues at the University of California-Berkeley recently made the case for expanded study of development and other issues for teenagers. 

eyeliam, CC BY 2.0,

In other parts of the developed world, midwives deliver a lot of babies... like in England, where half the births involve midwives. 

Here, not so much.  About ten percent of American births include midwives.  And recent research shows how making greater use of midwives can make for healthier babies and mothers. 

Oregon is one state that does better than many in integrating midwives into the birthing process.  Melissa Cheyney at Oregon State University was one of the authors of the study. 


The tech industry is so dominated by males that some people have taken to calling its workers "brogrammers."  But a closer look reveals women who made key contributions to both computers and the Internet. 

And Claire Evans, herself versed in computers (and singing in a band, but that's another story), writes of these pioneering women in the provocatively named Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

The stories date back to 1842, surprisingly. 

Italo-Europeo, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It seems only appropriate that a town that reveres and is supported by Shakespeare should have an affinity for London.  The British capital and its arts scene are highlighted in a series of plays and operas projected at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland. 

Nothing too tricky about the name for the series, it is called "London Live in Ashland."

The preliminary schedule for the season features events into the month of June, on Sundays and Mondays.

Mental illness is a problem, period.  But the problems are compounded by not knowing what KIND of mental illness a person is dealing with. 

The wrong diagnosis can send a person down a long trail of difficulties, incorrect treatments, and wrong medications. 

We hear a firsthand account of NOT getting a correct diagnosis from a member of Compass House in Medford, in this month's edition of Compass Radio. 

Julius Schorzman, CC BY-SA 2.0,

What's in your mug?  Most of us can't seem to start the day without SOME kind of beverage containing caffeine. 

Journalist Murray Carpenter freely admits he's often under the influence.  So he turned his curiosity on his drug of choice and wrote Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

Murray Carpenter visited the Exchange in 2015, and we return to the interview here. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5,

We used to flush all kinds of things into the gutters of the street, headed for the storm drains. 

And even though a few lessons have been learned (and a few fish stencils have been painted on storm drains), lots of unhealthy substances end up in the drains.  They're not sewers; there's no treatment of the water between drain and street. 

And a recent study shows that the dirty water not only makes life unpleasant for fish, it changes them.  Fish can grow up differently--and not better--when exposed to storm drain runoff. 

The aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida was an upheaval in political and media realms. 

The surviving students made their displeasure with gun laws and other factors plain immediately, demonstrating once again the power of new media--social media--in today's world.  That's just one topic we'll take up in this month's Signals & Noise segment. 

That's our monthly conclave with Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay, members of the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University. 


Audiences have drawn sharp breaths upon seeing some of the plays and operas directed by Peter Sellars, a professor at UCLA.  And upon occasion, the sharp breaths are followed by people walking out. 

Sellars pushes the boundaries, staging plays in swimming pools and in complete darkness, among other settings. 

He visits Southern Oregon University to talk about Shakespeare and the interpretation of his and other plays. 


The federal fisheries service is considering the Klamath River spring run of Chinook salmon for the endangered species list. 

The Karuk Tribe proposed the listing along with an environmental group. They emphasized genetic differences between spring and fall Chinook in the Klamath. 

Biologist Peter Moyle at the University of California-Davis says 14 of California's 32 salmonid species are already listed. If no actions are taken, that number can increase   

Billy Wilson / Flickr

If we want to reduce carbon in the atmosphere to slow or even reverse climate change, we need to cut way down on emissions.  And many scientists say even that will not be enough; we'll actually have to suck some of the carbon dioxide that already exists out of the air. 

So what does that mean, planting jillions of trees?  Giant vacuums? 

Christopher Field at Stanford University is well-versed in atmospheric carbon and the ideas about reducing it. 

California Department Of Water Resources

As the first full week of March began, mountain snowpack in the Rogue Basin was running about 53%.  Meaning about HALF the snowpack we get in a typical year. 

Meaning drought could be in our future, unless we get pounded by winter storms the rest of the month (not likely).  In the Klamath Basin, the numbers are even worse. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service of the federal government keeps track of the numbers. 

John Duffy/Wikimedia

The use of the term "counterinsurgency" conjures up images of the American fight to get Iraq and Afghanistan under control after the United States invaded. 

Law and political science professor Bernard Harcourt says techniques learned in those counterinsurgencies are being used against the American people.  Here at home.  That is the thesis of his provocative book The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens. 

The author writes of tactics from militarized police forces to bulk collection of electronic communications and beyond, and makes the case that they are used to rule ordinary Americans. 

Riccardo Rossi,

It surprised nearly no one when the federal Marine Fisheries service announced (on Feb. 27) a 12-month review to consider listing Klamath River Spring Chinook Salmon for endangered species protection. 

Several salmonid species are struggling, as demonstrated in the report by Cal Trout called "Fish in Hot Water" released last year. 

Peter Moyle from Cal Trout recently spoke to the state water board for the North Coast about fish issues.  Craig Tucker is Natural Resources Policy Advocate for the Karuk Tribe.

Christopher Michel/Wikimedia

Having people pop up from behind the furniture and shout SURPRISE can change your day. 

But it's also possible that getting other kinds of surprises can change your mind, and permanently. 

Southern Oregon University Professor Michael Rousell has been exploring the effects of surprises. 

And he's found evidence that the right kind of surprise can lead people to change their beliefs.