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.

© Tomas/Wikimedia

The human experience continues, and so do passenger trains, so Paul Theroux continues to write.  The prolific author who made his first big splash with The Great Railway Bazaar nearly half a century ago focuses his most recent book on one of the world's hot spots: The U.S.-Mexican border. 

Theroux traveled the length of that border, with and without barriers, to research On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

He also spent time in the parts of Mexico that send people northward in search of a better life. 


The ecological processes in a healthy, living forest are different from those in a forest where a fire has burned.  But how?  Some of the answers turn out to be surprising, especially when it comes to how water moves across and into the landscape. 

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory ("Berkeley Lab") used computers to model how water--in both snow and liquid form--is absorbed and evaporated in a key California watershed.  Where the researchers expected less evaporation, the model shows more. 


The American Lung Association was already warning people about the dangers of using electronic smoking devices, or vaping.  Then came the reports of people being hospitalized and even dying after vaping, and the concern ratcheted up considerably. 

Oregon and California both report two deaths each from a national toll of a dozen or more, with more than 800 people injured by alive. 


"Grow up and get married" became a very common phrase in the American language.  The implication was clear: that part of growing up was to pair up with another person. 

Plenty of people question whether marriage is right for them, and if it is, what form it should take.  Melissa Matthewson, writer and Southern Oregon University instructor, writes of her own questioning of marriage and how it works for its participants, in Tracing the Desire Line: A Memoir in Essays.

Everything went on the table in her marriage; roles, freedom, monogamy, and more. 

The federal government plans to make changes.  That phrase gets used a lot in our time, so we'll focus on a proposal to tighten eligibility requirements for SNAP or "food stamps." 

The numbers-crunching organization Mathematica says the proposal would take SNAP benefits away from more than ten percent of the people who get them in California, more than 15 percent in Oregon. 

Sarah Lauffer performed much of the analysis at Mathematica. 

Jackson County Sheriff

Sheriffs across the state of Oregon have a question for the legislature: where's the rest of the money? 

The budget for the state Department of Corrections includes funding for the counties to hold and/or supervise criminal offenders within their borders.  This year the DOC budget closed with less money than the sheriffs expected, and less than they say it takes to properly supervise all those people. 

The Oregon Sheriffs Association and its members are raising a ruckus, disputing the state's position that fewer people are now supervised, so less money is needed. 


This looks like progress at first glance: 56 women serving in the U.S. Senate.  Oh wait, that's since the country STARTED.  Right now?  Females are more than half the population, and exactly one quarter of the Senate. 

The percentage is slightly lower in the house.  So it's not unexpected that someone would write a how-to book for women thinking of running for office. 

Represent: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World is the work of actor June Diane Raphael and political operative Kate Black. 


Take a world tour, and never leave a comfy seat in a movie theater.  Varsity World Film Week is back at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland, starting October 4th (preview September 30th). 

The film subjects and treatments are as varied as the people on the planet... from bluegrass musicians ("Fiddlin'") to elephant poachers and their wildlife-ranger cousins ("When Lambs Become Lions").

Roughly a quarter of the population around the world will experience some form of mental illness at some point.  Yet society still struggles to comprehend diseases that affect the mind and not the body. 

Southern Oregon Compass House in Medford provides a safe space for people with persistent mental illness.  Our monthly visits in Compass Radio provide us with a first-person story of coping with mental illness and its associated challenges. 


We may love our motor-powered vehicles, but we still get some help from horses.  Not so much in transportation as in therapeutic settings... horses help people with PTSD and other challenges to calm down and heal. 

Horses and how they work with us also provide some guidance for how humans relate to each other.  That's what Linda Kohanov focuses on, in her book Five Roles of a Master Herder: A Revolutionary Model for Socially Intelligent Leadership

Are you a leader, a nurturer, a sentinel?

We can agree that wildfire is natural in western forests, and at the same time not want fires to burn down our houses.  Some hard lessons have been learned about fire behavior in recent years. 

It would certainly help if fires were more predictable, and they just might be.  Researchers at the University of California-Irvine used machine learning, a kind of artificial intelligence, to predict how big a wildfire might get, based on the ignition point and the conditions where the fire started. 

lindsayfox via pixabay

The vaping industry caught a lot of people by surprise, it seems.  All of a sudden, a society that had reduced cigarette smoking noticed a lot of people inhaling vapors from electronic devices. 

Now vaping is very much in the news, with a series of mysterious respiratory deaths across the country, including in Oregon.  Oregon Health Authority is taking notice and issuing warnings about vaping practices. 

We know a few things about the birth of the universe.  Do we know enough to recreate the process? 

The question alone provokes thought.  But scientists have been pondering it for a while now, convinced that they could create small universes in laboratories. 

A Big Bang in a Little Room by Zeeya Merali considers both physical and ethical obstacles to lab-created "baby universes." 


People living on the streets sometimes have constant companions: dogs and even cats.  Pets living on the streets face issues their indoors counterparts do not, just as people without houses do. 

The Street Dog Project in the Rogue Valley started up to pay some attention to the dogs of homeless people.  The project has a number of goals, including encouraging the spaying and neutering of street dogs. 


Shoot an American bison--a buffalo--in Yellowstone National Park, you'll be in big trouble.  Outside the park boundaries, it's a completely different story. 

Not only are the buffalo not protected, they are routinely slaughtered to keep the herd numbers down outside the park.  The Buffalo Field Campaign opposes the treatment of the animals, and the annual BFC Road Show will make the case in coming weeks in Arcata, Cave Junction, and Eugene, among other stops. 

Jenny Graham/OSF

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has taught audiences about U.S. history, and entertained them at the same time, with plays it commissioned in recent years.  Now OSF announces six new commissions as part of its American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle

The commissioned playwrights are Zakiyyah Alexander, Jaclyn Backhaus, E. M. Lewis, Mary Katheryn Nagle, Sara Novic, and Sanaz Toossi.  They will add to a body of work that has produced critical and audience acclaim, and even a Tony Award (for "All the Way"), and a Pulitzer Prize (for "Sweat"). 

Michael Richardson/Wikimedia

The world took notice of the summer's fires in the Amazon region of Brazil.  The tropical rainforests are often called "the Earth's lungs" for the oxygen they supply. 

Far less notice is taken of the fate of rainforests in temperate zones, including in the Pacific Northwest.  Logging continues on both sides of the US/Canada border, and that concerns a pair of scientists well-versed in the workings of those forests. 

Jens Wieting is with Sierra Club BC and Dominick DellaSala is with GEOS Institute based in Ashland. 

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

Many people around the region have had to confront the possibility of losing their homes to wildfire.  The progression may seem simple, load-evacuate-survive, but it's not simple for everyone. 

Challenges from lack of a car to physical disabilities could hinder evacuation.  JPR's April Ehrlich gauged the effects of wildfire on diverse populations in Northern California in a series called "Oppressed By Wildfire."

The series will run the rest of this week (September 24-27) on The Exchange. 


We speak of wanting diversity in education, but it's taking a while to get there.  Teachers of color can make a big difference in the education of a child of color. 

So non-white teachers are in high demand... but also in short supply.  Monique Morris, author and social justice scholar, wants to see the educational system shift its focus to girls of color, a case she lays out in the book Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls

Book and author are featured in this month's edition of The Keenest Observers, with host Rob Goodwin. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife

It's been more than 30 years since the federal government put some of the Klamath Basin's legendary sucker fish on the endangered species list.  Both the Lost River and shortnose suckers are on the list, and they'll be there for a while; the numbers don't show much sign of improvement. 

So the Oregon Institute of Technology is proposing a boost.  OIT's Oregon Renewable Energy Center wants to build solar-powered platforms that will float on Upper Klamath Lake and inject needed oxygen into the deeper water.