RDECOM / flickr

For most of us middle school is the most awkward time of life. Kevin Brockmeier has plunged back into this difficult years with his new memoir, A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip: A Memoir of Seventh Grade. Today on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe revisits middle school with Brockmeier.

Later in the program, Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project, Dora Malech, talks about the importance of getting kids writing, along with some tips and best practices.

Photo Courtesy of the artist


John Darnielle is the songwriter and leader of the band The Mountain Goats. He headlined this weekend’s Maximum Ames Music Festival. He performed an expansive set including songs from The Mountain Goats's newest record, "Beat the Champ," a concept album about professional wrestling.


Darnielle, who lived in Ames, Colo and Grinnell, is also an author. His first novel Wolf in White Van was nominated for the National Book Award last year. It's a fascinating tale of an outcast gamer whose face had been mutilated.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Four Republican candidates for President braved the raucous tailgating crowd yesterday in Ames ahead of the annual Cyclone Hawkeye football game.   Each candidate drew curious onlookers as they made their way across the tailgating scene.    Joyce Russell brings us some of the sounds of the day from the candidates who attended the tailgate, to football fans who were more interested in pigskin that politics.

Wikimedia Commons / Quadell

New research from the University of Iowa may one day lead to new therapies for those afflicted with Type-2 diabetes. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent reports the disease is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.  High blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes cause series health problems like heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, and blindness.

Perry Drops Out

Sep 11, 2015
Joyce Russell/IPR

Texas Governor Rick Perry has become the first among the Republican presidential candidates to drop out of the race.  NPR is reporting that Perry is suspending his campaign.  

"We have a tremendous field – the best in a generation – so I step aside knowing our party is in good hands, and as long as we listen to the grassroots, the cause of conservatism will be too," he told a gathering in St. Louis Friday.

Doug McGr / Flickr

When the automobile became available to the larger population, it made major waves in how people spent their weekends. Iowa was no different, as both rural and urban areas saw the advent of drive-in movie theaters.

“We had over 80 drive-ins across the state at one time. You could be in a larger town, but towns like Pocahontas had drive-ins, Perry, Emmetsburg, and they would stay open late into the fall,” says Iowa State Historical Society state curator Leo Landis.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Despite the fact that the legislature has increased state funding for water quality initiatives by millions of dollars since the 1980s, we haven't seen substantial improvements since then.

That’s according to Keith Schilling, who researches water for the Iowa Geological Survey.

“I recently looked at 50 rivers’ nitrate levels. Only six had changed since 1980, and those increased in nitrate concentration,” he says.

City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation

Iowans looking to remember the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks can take a walk around Gray’s Lake in Des Moines. In the fourth year of the collaboration, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, iHeartMedia and the United States Air Force have created a “Tribute Trail” of approximately 2,977 American flags.

"Each [flag] honors one victim lost at the 9/11 attacks," says Jen Fletcher of Des Moines’s Parks and Recreation. "It's a very stunning visual...It's a place that people can go and just have a moment to honor those people that were lost that day."

Photo by Amy Mayer

Throughout the cropland of the Midwest, farmers use chemicals on their fields to nourish the plants and the soil. But excess nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients can wash off the fields and into streams, rivers and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

New tools can help farmers monitor their soil and water so they can become part of the solution to this widespread problem.

John Pemble/IPR file

Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders leads rival Hillary Clinton by one point among Iowa caucus-goers, in a poll released this morning by Quinnipiac University.  It found 41-percent of likely Democratic participants back Sanders, while 40-percent chose former Secretary of State Clinton. 

The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.4 percentage points.  

Photo Courtesy Daniel Moon

Twenty years ago in Iowa, the influx of latino workers and their families was a large topic of conversation. Today, refugee programs are working with more than 180 different languages and are helping migrants from all over the world navigate culture in Iowa, and starting to include ideas of sexual identity and socio-economic status in the conversation.

During this hour of River to River, we hear from Henny Ohr, Executive Director of the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center, about the influx of refugees from Burma who have been relocating to Iowa.

John Pemple/IPR file photo

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley was one of the Republicans who spoke out against the Iran Nuclear Agreement on the Senate floor Thursday. Iowa’s senior senator says the agreement threatens the security of the U.S., Israel and other western European allies, as it doesn’t go far enough to limit Iran’s access to nuclear capability.

One of Grassley’s complaints is that the deal makes international inspectors wait up to 24 days before having access to certain sites. Grassley says Iran will use this time to “hide prohibited activities.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Soon across Iowa, the Midwest, and parts of the west and south, it will be more convenient for drivers to fill their tanks with ethanol-blended gasoline. The USDA is providing $100 million in matching grants to 21 states, to expand the number of pumps that can dispense gasoline with higher blends of the bio fuel.

No Child Left Behind

The Iowa Department of Education issued its required annual report card on the federal No Child Left Behind law Thursday.

It shows more than 65 percent of the state’s schools are in need of assistance. 

Education Director Ryan Wise says the law’s requirement that all students meet annual yearly progress in reading and math is unrealistic.

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

Farmers in the Midwest are facing a situation they haven't seen in years. Grain prices are down. After some of the most lucrative growing seasons they've ever seen, some producers could lose money on this year's crop. That could slow down the rural economy.

Iowa Digital Library / Flickr

From one room country schools to high tech multi-million dollar facilities, schools in Iowa have changed a lot. What goes on inside the schools has changed a lot too.

“Every decade or two we see these large transformations in what the school is asked to do."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe kicks off "Iowa Week: Then and Now" with a look at education in Iowa over the years.

Flickr / SD Dirk

Both Iowa State University and the University of Iowa report record-breaking enrollment for their freshmen classes. 6,231 first-year Cyclones and 5,241 Hawkeyes are registered for the 2015 fall semester.

Tuition is going up next semester at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, but remains frozen at the University of Iowa.

The state Board of Regents has voted to hike tuition by three percent on the Ames and Cedar Falls campuses. 

The vote came after Iowa State and UNI student leaders from those campuses supported the tuition increase.  But, UI student body president Liz Mills said the mid-year tuition increase would shock some student budgets.

That resonated with Regent Patricia Cownie of Des Moines.

Mark Kortum / Flickr

Parenting in Iowa has changed a lot over the decades.

“We have the luxury of giving lots and lots of time and energy to kids that our great-grandparents didn’t,” says Pamela Riney-Kehrberg of Iowa State University.

Casey's General Stores, Inc.

Executives at the Ankeny-based convenience store chain Casey’s are calling the company’s first quarter results a good start to fiscal 2016. 

Casey’s is reporting record first quarter earnings of $1.57 per share, compared with $1.28 during the same period a year ago.

Company officials say sales were helped by low fuel prices and a higher demand for cigarettes.

Chief Financial Officer Bill Walljasper says Casey’s is continuing to expand.

The University of Iowa’s Faculty Senate has approved a motion expressing ‘no confidence’ in the Iowa Board of Regents.

Tuesday afternoon’s action that followed a two-hour frustration-laced debate is the latest expression from the Iowa City campus, following the Regents’ hiring of business executive Bruce Harreld as the University’s new president.

Senate President and Law Professor, Christina Bohannan, told the faculty she’s heartbroken.

kc7fys / Flickr

When the closure of two of Iowa's four mental health institutes was announced earlier this year, there was huge backlash from the mental health community. But Dr. Michael Flaum, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, says he's not overly concerned. 


The way we think about food has changed a lot over the last 30 years. Today, we see yogurt and brown rice on mainstream grocery store shelves, but that wasn't always the case. Theresa Carbery, one of the founders of New Pioneer Food Coop in Iowa City, says in the early 1970s, she was a part of a buyers' club to get foods that weren't available in grocery stores. 

The Iowa State medical examiner is planning an autopsy Wednesday morning to determine the cause of death of former University of Iowa standout football player Tyler Sash.

The 27-year old was found dead at his home in Oskaloosa by a family member who stopped by to walk his dog.

Sash was a safety for the Hawkeyes, who became a first-team All Big Ten selection his junior year. He had 13 interceptions during his Iowa career, fifth best in school history.

He went on to play two years for the New York Giants, winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2011.

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

Iowa’s auditor of state says revenues for Iowa are strong and growing, but that there is also room for improvement. After completing her assessment of the state budget for fiscal year 2016, Mary Mosiman says it’s not wise to use carryover surplus money to create a balanced budget, as lawmakers have done this year.

Photo by John Pemble

The U.S. Congress is back at work with a lengthy agenda for a short month and the federal budget squarely in its sights. Iowa's senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, says the Waters of the U.S rule (WOTUS) is in the cross-hairs.

That rule, which extends Clean Water Act regulations to more bodies of water, went into effect in August, but only in states where courts hadn’t ruled to block it.

Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation has been purchased for $2.4 billion from another media company. 

Meredith was bought by Virginia-based Media General which will form a new holding company. It will change its name to Meredith Media General and will maintain corporate and executive offices in both Des Moines and Richmond, Virginia. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The Iowa National Guard has based helicopters in Boone since 1954. Today, that city is home for the state's only assault helicopter unit. But now, Boone faces the possibility of losing its decorated aviation wing. As Iowa Public Radio's Rick Fredericksen reports, residents are fighting to keep their Black Hawk helicopters.

Boone is foremost a railroad town and known as the birthplace of Mamie Eisenhower. It also has a key role in national security, with some 500 soldiers and aviation personnel based at the Boone Armory.

Ben Kieffer

This edition of River to River kicks off Iowa Public Radio’s Iowa Week with the theme “then and now.”

GovernmentZA / Flickr

China’s economic slowdown appears to be having bigger repercussions for other countries than expected.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Jonathan Hassid, an Iowa State University professor who studies Chinese news media and symbolic political messaging. He says politics will prevent real economic reform in China. He also discusses China's new display of military power and what this could mean for the future.