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.

Jared Wong, CC BY 2.0,

Few people ever talk about WANTING to move into a senior care facility. 

Most of us would prefer to stay in our own homes, albeit with some amenities that help us deal with the issues of old age. 

Age Friendly Innovators of Jacksonville works with seniors to help them "age in place."  Among the issues: what are the additional needs of seniors who live in rural areas, beyond the walking distance of needed services? 

Australian Paralympic Committee, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The winter Olympics in South Korea proved once and for all that American sports fans are not the only ones who take off their shirts in cold weather. 

Why DO people tempt frostbite and other maladies to cheer on their teams?  Because they may be Superfans, a type of person examined in a book by that name by George Dohrmann. 

His sources range from sports psychologists to the man who gathered a huge cheering section for the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. 

Liana Salanta/Wikimedia

Oregon continues to produce more wine over time, but its production of beer ingredients may be even more impressive. 

Hops are a major agricultural product in Oregon, the number three state behind Washington and Idaho.  And the hop harvest over the past five years has zoomed, up 77 percent. 

People who know hops say this is probably the peak; there are enough hops to meet the demand, and then some. 

Jaki Brophy speaks for hop growers at USA Hops in Yakima, Washington. 

Erich Ferdinand, CC BY 2.0,

You know how people always say you should not run from a dog that appears threatening?  That's because the dog is more likely to run after you if you create a chase situation. 

And it's apparently just as true of wolves as it is of dogs. 

Mark Coats is a rancher in the Tulelake area, just as concerned as any rancher about the rise of wolves in the region.  He offers advice through the web at Rancher Predator Awareness, including ways to train cattle not to run when confronted by predators. 

The world may appear to be a scary place at the moment, but Ian Goldin and Chris Kutarna see opportunity. 

They point to another period of history that featured both great discoveries and advancements AND wrenching social and political change: the Renaissance, which pulled the Western world out of the medieval period. 

Could this time of great knowledge and risk parallel that one? 

Goldin and Kutarna make the case in their book Age of Discovery: Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Humboldt County can be a wet place, but there's plenty more to come as sea levels continue to rise. 

The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, in the works for several years, was completed last month. 

It details the ways and areas in which the North Coast is especially prone to problems from higher sea levels.  Now the next question: how best to act on the information. 


They are not the primary way we get around the country anymore, but Americans still have a love for trains.  The proof is in a modest factory in the small city of Talent.  The factory houses Micro-Trains, the highly regarded maker of model railroad trains, tracks, and accessories. 

"Micro" is not a play on words; the company makes trains in N and Z gauges, smaller than the better-known HO. 

How it got started and why it's still in the Rogue Valley is the story of this month's edition of The Ground Floor.  Eric Smith is the boss now, having succeeded his father-in-law at the helm (throttle?) of the company. 

Columbia University Press

If you're thinking that the key to humans living sustainably lies in the countryside, you're looking in the wrong direction. 

Cities are where most of the people live, and they will have to pave the way (no pun intended) in demonstrating that people can live in harmony with the planet, putting back what we take from it. 

That's the view of Steven Cohen, who runs the Earth Institute at Columbia University.  He fleshes his argument out in The Sustainable City, a glimpse of the urban systems of the future. 

Oregon State University

Barley is an important grain for many different human and animal uses. 

But the grain is just darned hard to remove from its hull.  Unless it's "naked barley." 

This is a variety mutated to allow easier separation of grain and hull. 

Oregon State University is at the center of an effort to study the potential uses of naked barley. 

SOU Percussion Facebook page

Be prepared to stretch your definition of music.  Because a recently released CD features Southern Oregon University's Percussion Ensemble performing a piece by the boundary-stretching composer Mark Applebaum

And the piece includes such exotic instrumentation as bubble wrap.  That's right, the stuff that you use to pack fragile items into boxes.  Popping the bubbles makes a sound, a percussive one at that. 

Terry Longshore directs the Percussion Ensemble. 

ep_jhu / Flickr

The opioid crisis in America brings attention primarily to two groups: patients who take the pain pills, and the doctors who prescribe them. 

Dr. Mark Greenberg of Ashland is a pain management specialist, and he has been both doctor and patient in pain situations. 

He was mentioned in a recent article on opioids in the Wall Street Journal, telling his story of not taking the meds prescribed for him after surgery last year. 

We are not kidding when we say the media landscape changes at lightning speed in today's world. 

Who would have thought major news organizations would quote the purported comments of the president and say "s**thole" on the air?  But it happened, just hours after the last Signals & Noise segment. 

That's our monthly conclave with members of the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University

Ajay Tallam, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Enrollment is at record levels in the California State University system, which includes Humboldt State.  But CSU is considering raising tuition for the next academic year, as is the University of California. 

UC trustees recently put off a decision until May, in the hope that the governor and legislature will deliver more money and make higher tuition unnecessary. 

Meanwhile, the University of Oregon is considering a 3% tuition hike for next school year.

We delve into the cost of higher education and the ability (or not) of students to pay it, with several guests. 

Dr. Lucie Lapovsky is an economist who focuses on higher education; Dr. Richard Fossey is an expert on the student debt crisis.  And Maxwell Lubin represents Rise, a movement to make college tuition free. 


For all the attention we lavish on St. Valentine's day, very little is known about the person for whom it is named.  If he even existed... it's almost like a blind date, we know so little. 

While we're on the subject of dating, let's bring in Skyler Wang, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of California-Berkeley.  He studies and leads classes in the subject areas of love and romance. 

Some of his work focuses on the difficulties and opportunities in dating in rural areas (of which we have plenty). 

U.S. Army/Public Domain

The White House proposal for the next federal budget is out. 

Like the previous one, it proposes to cut all funding for the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system.  But Congress keeps funding in the spending plan that passed recently.

Susan Jacoby scanned the American culture and found a prevalence of what she calls "junk thought." 

So she wrote a book, The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies.  And that was nine years ago. 

Just think of how much more there is to talk about now, in the age of daily lies from public figures and cries of "fake news." 

Susan Jacoby updated her book to include the current political players and the likes of Breitbart News and Twitter, all contained in a new paperback edition. 

Not all of the Democrats sat in silence during President Trump's recent State of the Union address. 

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley stayed busy during the speech, or at least his Twitter account did. 

Merkley tweeted many responses to the president's remarks, and he's had much to say in the days since. 

US Fish and Wildlife Service via Wikimedia Commons

Lots of people are pulling for monarch butterflies to make a comeback.  But the numbers from the Thanksgiving count of last fall show a continued decline in monarch numbers in California. 

And that's despite the counters making it to more locations. 

The Thanksgiving count is now in its third decade, and the overall trend has been consistently downward... even though more and more people are creating monarch-friendly gardens and waystations. 

Emma Pelton leads the monarch program at the Portland-based Xerces Society

Maybe a third of a million people came to California for the gold rush of 1849, and easily thousands more have come to the West since.  Many of them had little to show for their efforts. 

But not Glenn Wadstein.  He mined Jackson County's Sterling Creek for gold for a decade and a half at the end of the last century, and he claims to have pulled POUNDS of gold out of the stream. 

What did he do with his gains, and what kind of shape did he leave the creek in?  These and more questions are answered in Wadstein's video story at the Southern Oregon Digital Archives at Southern Oregon University. 

This is the latest chapter in Stories of Southern Oregon. 

Raya Sharbain, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Are you ready to be a "kindness warrior?"  Tara Cousineau considers herself one; the rest of the world would probably pigeonhole her as a clinical and research psychologist. 

And she focuses her work on the tremendous benefits of people being nice to one another and showing some compassion. 

She lays out the science and the practices in her book The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart & Your World