The Jefferson Exchange Team

Jefferson Exchange Team

The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily talk show focused on news and interests across our region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. John Baxter is the senior producer, April Ehrlich is the producer and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.

To contact the producers to pitch a segment idea or make a comment about the show, email them at or call 541-552-7075.


If you live with pets, you probably wonder what they're thinking, and marvel to the things they appear to figure out with their brains.  But how high is your confidence in knowing what they're thinking? 

This is a question the famed biologist and primatologist Frans de Waal forces us to consider, in his book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

He brings in examples from his own extensive work, and that of other scientists, to demonstrate how often we underestimate the intelligence of animals. 


Shasta Big Springs Ranch in Siskiyou County is one of the few places in the country where salmon spawned in a stream right next to cows.  So there was great optimism when the Nature Conservancy bought the ranch. 

Then the organization turned around and sold some of the water rights to recoup its investment, and the grumbling from neighbors of the ranch began. 

Journalist Margiana Petersen-Rockney tells the story online at Grist


The idea that people in poverty are just lazy people shirking work is severely undercut by research. 

That includes a new report from the Oregon Center for Public Policy showing that most Oregonians below the poverty line have jobs. 

Janet Bauer is a policy analyst at OCPP. 


Are you completely free of any preconceived notions of the characteristics of groups of people, even groups you belong to?  Few of us are. 

Maybe we all want a better country, but our ideas for building one differ greatly.  And our ability to work as one people is hindered by our notions of who the "other people" are. 

Max Klau, a developmental psychologist, explores these concepts in his book Race and Social Change: A Quest, A Study, A Call to Action.  The book centers on a "separation" exercise used at leadership conferences for young people. 

The first decade of this century was a big one for Oregon prisons.  The state's incarceration rate increased by 50 percent over the decade. 

That is clearly not sustainable, and is a major reason why Oregon's Criminal Justice Commission runs a Justice Reinvestment program.  It hands out grants to programs all over the state designed to reduce incarceration and recidivism, or both. 


China threw a curveball, and now we're throwing a lot of "recyclables" into landfills. 

We used to ship many recycled materials to China, but the country complained about too many contaminated loads, and stopped taking them.  That produced changes in how curbside recycling is handled in many American communities. 

The City of Eureka just got involved, with a new glass recycling program that does not charge residents for the service. 


Bones do so much for us.  Fossilized, they provide records of creatures from the past.  On labels and flags (think pirates), they provide effective warnings. 

Oh, and they keep our bodies from collapsing in a gelatinous heap on the ground.  Science writer Brian Switek celebrates these and many more uses in his book Skeleton Keys: The Secret Life of Bone

Army Corps of Engineers

The smoke-filled summers are a recent addition to the region, for most of us.  But disasters like fires and floods are common through the years of recorded history here. 

Ron Brown, former TV newscaster and history buff, has lived through and covered quite a few of them.  He brings together a number of key events for a public talk through the Southern Oregon Historical Society, "Fire and Flood: Disasters in the Rogue Valley."

The event is Wednesday (March 6th) at Noon at the Medford Library. 


The land designation is Exclusive Farm Use, but there's still some room for argument about what KINDS of farm uses are appropriate.  That's at the center of a debate over Uproot Meats, south of Ashland. 

The owners run a hog and chicken farm on EFU land, but recently were denied a permit for a slaughterhouse on their property.  The denial was prompted by an appeal from Don't Uproot Ashland


Ever hear of "cab wit?"  That's the snappy comeback that arrives in your head long after a conversation has ended... like in the cab going home. 

We appreciate wit in our society, even though it may be a little difficult to define.  James Geary takes a stab at definition, explanation, and more in his boo Wit's End: What Wit Is, How It Works, and Why We Need It

Hint: it's more than a sense of humor. 

When life is rough, and potentially short, you look for someplace else to live.  That's what motivates the people of the "caravans" from Central America. 

Laz Ayala, now a Rogue Valley resident, escaped from El Salvador in the trunk of a car many years ago.  He's turning his attention back to his journey for "Illegal, The Project," an effort to push for understanding and immigration reform. 

One of Ayala's goals is to turn the focus from the people who come across the border to the people who hire them, often outside the law. 


The reliability of modern cars is impressive.  When was the last time your car wouldn't start, and someone told you "you flooded it?"  Onboard computers and fuel injection and other improvements have added much to the driving experience. 

But cars and trucks still break down, or act like they're about to.  That's where Zach Edwards' relationship with a vehicle begins.  He's fixed cars for many years, now runs Ashland Automotive, and joins us once a month for a segment we call The Squeaky Wheel. 

Got a car issue bedeviling you?  Call and ask Zach about it, at 800-838-3760, or email


When Sunita Puri was in medical school, she realized that very little attention was paid to situations in which modern medicine has run out of answers. This lead her into the relatively new field of palliative care.

How new? Her book, That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, may be the first book on palliative care written by an MD.  It enters the zone between cures which are impossible or nearly so, and providing comfort to a human in need of it. 

Steve Sutfin/Camelot Theatre

Here comes March... in like a lion, out like a lamb.  We hope, anyway. 

And while we wait for the official arrival of spring, we can pass the time by taking in some of the arts events of this waning winter.  Events on stages and in galleries are the core of our monthly First Friday Arts segment. 

It's all content from the audience... we invite arts organizations to call in with news of their events. 


Reshma Saujani is all about empowering females to do great work in the world, unencumbered by traditional barriers.  She founded Girls Who Code to attract more girls to tech, wrote a companion book, and joined us on The Exchange a while back.

Now she's written Brave, Not Perfect, a new book expanding her philosophy to women.  The central message: do not be afraid to fail. 


Debra Gwartney knows a few tough women in her own family.  And that's probably why she's been drawn to the story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman known to cross the Rocky Mountains. 

Whitman died in a battle with Native Americans in 1845; her story and Debra Gwartney's story are intertwined in Gwartney's book I Am a Stranger Here Myself

Dennis Richardson is the first Republican to win statewide office in Oregon in a generation.  He is also now the first statewide office-holder in many years to die in office. 

Brain cancer led to the death of Oregon's Secretary of State on Tuesday night, February 26.


The advances in technology mean practices in archaeology are evolving.  It also means the methods to communicate the results of archaeology are broader than they used to be. 

In this month's edition of Underground History, we meet Chris Matthews, who edits Historical Archaeology, the journal of the Society for Historical Archaeology.  He and Lynn Hunter Gamble talk about the changing world of archaeological journals. 

Library of Congress/Wikimedia

"Separate but equal" was the doctrine underpinning segregation of the races in America until the civil rights rulings and laws of the mid-1900s.  Accomodations for black and white people may have been separate, but they were not even close to equal. 

That's no surprise, but the story of the Supreme Court case that allowed segregation is full of twists and turns.  Steve Luxenberg follows them in his book Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation

An example of some of the surprises: people who were anti-slavery but pro-segregation. 

David Brendan Hall/

We'd call Josh Gross a music aficionado, but it's hard to say that on the radio.  What he has is great love for, and knowledge of, music. 

And we ask him to share it with us once a month on a segment we call Rogue Sounds.  Josh scans the lists of musical acts coming to the region, and gives us a list of five to consider. 

This month: Reptalians, Rebirth Brass Band, Intuitive Compass, the Mutineers, and Go Fever.