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.

Does life at 50 match up to what we thought it would be at age 20?  For that matter, does any 20-year-old even imagine life at 50? 

Former NPR reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty took serious stock of her life when she went through what she now calls a "faux midlife crisis."  It led to a book called Life Reimagined

The numbers come flying at us daily: unemployment reports, Dow Jones averages, top-grossing movies, you name it. 

But just once every year, the Oregon Community Foundation releases its TOP report, TOP standing for Tracking Oregon's Progress.  Last year's TOP tracked several measures of success for children in the state, and found some issues. 

The new report is arriving now, accompanied by OCF's Sonia Worcel.   Its title is "Oregonians Mobilizing for Change."


You've probably heard about people who try to avoid using plastic for a month, or who spend a year not buying products from China.  But a month not using any products from Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, or Microsoft? 

It's harder than it sounds.  Daniel Oberhaus even wanted to run his phone on something other than Android or iPhone platforms.  He wrote about his experience for an article on Motherboard, focusing on not sharing his information with the tech giants. 

Public Domain

The deep rifts in American society are evident. But how did they develop?

Historian Kevin M. Kruse and CNN political analyst Julian E. Zelizer have traced the divide back to 1974, a year in which the country was rocked by political, economic and cultural events (think Watergate). Their new book, Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974, is based on a popular history course they teach at Princeton. 

California State Parks

The last time Shasta State Historic Park was open was a scary time.  The Carr Fire was bearing down on the park and workers loaded all the portable valuables onto trucks for a trip to Sacramento. 

Only now is the park ready to reopen (on January 25th), minus the Old Schoolhouse, which burned in the fire. 

Park Superintendent Lori Martin and crew spent the last several months making the park habitable again.  


We like to think we're long past the days when people were forced into slavery or prostitution.  But the stories of people who have been victims of human trafficking reveal how contemporary a problem it is. 

Shine A Light plans to raise awareness and money in its annual yoga fundraiser, January 27th in Ashland.  Celina Reppond runs the program, while Staysha Hackmann spoke last year and coordinates the Jackson County Sex Trafficking Task Force at Community Works.  


We're generally heavier than we used to be across society, we get more kinds of allergies and other health issues, and nobody seems to be making much money. 

Pediatrician/professor/researcher Leonardo Trasande points the finger in his book Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future . . . and What We Can Do About It.   The author asserts that endocrine-disrupting chemicals in common household products are causing a whole range of serious health problems, especially in children.  

Khagani Hasanov, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It will be a while (we hope) before anyone says "sure is a hot one today."  July, maybe?  We don't really know anymore, now that our summers seem to come earlier and hotter (and smokier, in our region). 

Health workers have to deal with more cases of heat-related illness and even death each year.  Science journalist Dave Levitan says that's something health departments should be prepared to handle. / Oliver Cory

They show up in the news all the time: events in which police and/or sanitation workers come to a homeless camp and clear the place out, people and all. 

There's compassion for the people who don't have permanent homes, but what about the people who do, and not far away?  It's a tricky situation, one we explore in this discussion. 

Rogue Retreat helps homeless people find homes; Julie Akins covers homeless issues as a journalist, works to create spaces for homeless people, and recently joined the Ashland City Council. 


The party bosses and the people they got elected used to wield all the power in America.  But we've democratized many processes, through initiative and referendum laws, and party primaries and caucuses. 

Which raises the question: how's that working out for us?  Putting more of the machinery of the politics in the hands of the people produces things like ballot measures legalizing marijuana... but also results like Brexit, in the United Kingdom. 

The idea that the problems of democracy are solved by more democracy gets a critique from Yale University political scientists Frances Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro, in Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy From Itself


When money gets tight, what do you do?  Payday and car-title loans are among the options that low-income Oregonians resort to, according to a recent report from the Center for Responsible Lending

Student loans, car loans, and credit card debt exert a crushing burden on people who make between $20,000 and $30,000 a year. 

The report includes input from several Oregon nonprofits, including Innovative Changes, which makes small loans itself. 

Midnightblueowl, CC BY-SA 3.0,

We give credit to the British for a wicked sense of satire.  But maybe the credit really should go to their Anglo-Saxon forebears. 

We'll be sure to ask Martha Bayless, a professor of English at the University of Oregon.  Her research focuses on Anglo-Saxon England and many aspects of its culture... including its entertainments and diversions. 

Derek Bridges, CC BY 2.0,

The heart of Mardi Gras season is still a few weeks away.  But why wait? 

New Orleans is unique and exotic among American cities, and worth a look anytime.  Jason Berry observes the recent anniversary of the city's founding in City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at 300

From the swampy beginnings to its modern-day near-death and rebirth, it's a long and complicated story.

Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

The unemployment rates for the nation and our states continue to look pretty good. 

Oregon and California are both right around four percent unemployment.  But not uniformly; Klamath and Lake Counties in Oregon, for example, tend to run about two points higher than the statewide average. 

Damon Runberg is a regional economist with the Oregon Employment Department

Society is not so great at sympathy for unseen maladies.  People complaining of back pain will often find at least one person who thinks they're faking. 

And so people with diseases of the mind--mental illness--don't often get fully understood or diagnosed.


Maybe you've wondered a bit about the American psyche.  We do get ourselves into some pickles, like wars without clear winners, and political deadlocks, and people spreading information that isn't true and calling it news. 

Psychologist Bryant Welch wants to put the country on the couch, and does, in a sense, in State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind

If you're familiar with the term "gaslighting," you'll recognize right away what the book is about.  It was first published ten years ago, and has been updated.


Journalists make people mad even when they do their jobs well.  We've reached a moment in history when criticism of journalism is widespread, and income sources for the work of journalists have been reduced. 

A study out of Louisiana State University suggests that journalists can take two pathways to improve public trust in what they do: 1) check their facts; 2) speak up in defense of journalism. 

Journalists tend to groan when they talk about the 24-hour news cycle.  Events move so fast, there's seldom time to bask in the glow of a job well done... because new events knock the big stories out of the headlines almost immediately. 

Our monthly survey of the media landscape, Signals & Noise, attempts to take in events in news and non-news media.  And just a day after our last session, we had five new items to discuss. 

Our regular partners from the Communication faculty at Southern Oregon University, Precious Yamaguchi (subbed this month by Chris Lucas) and Andrew Gay, work hard to keep up. 


The people most concerned about climate change are serious about finding ways to power our lives without burning fossil fuels. 

And there is an option that seldom gets discussed: nuclear power.  This is the centerpiece of a book by Joshua Goldstein and Staffan Qvist, A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.  

The authors make the case for a strong commitment to nuclear power as a way to solve climate change. 

Government Alliance on Race and Equity

People do make judgments about other people, like about how healthy their personalities are. 

But stop and think: what are the components of a healthy personality?  This is not just a food-for-thought question, but a real research topic, at the likes of the Personality Change Lab at the University of California-Davis. 

And after a lot of work, lab members think they have the five key variables: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.