Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 27 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award-winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa, where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station, KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board. Most recently, Pat was honored by receiving the Jack Shelley Award for Broadcast Excellence, in 2014.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

Ways to Connect

Pat Blank/IPR

As more people look to have control over how their food is grown, many are planting gardens for the first time. And some are even turning their backyards into chicken coops. It’s the time of year when hardware stores and agricultural supply companies share space among the lawnmowers and grass seed with live baby chickens.

Some venues offer informational seminars to help customers get started.  On a recent Thursday night at a Cedar Falls farm store, Cargill animal nutrition specialist Jodi Holmes said people came with a lot of questions.

Pat Blank/IPR file photo

April’s winds might have created a bad hair month for many Iowans, but they’ve been beneficial to the state’s farmers who need the soil to be dry enough to plant their crops.

State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says only a handful of producers have had a chance to plant corn, however, because the soil is still too cold for seeds to germinate.   He says if the weekend is as warm as the weather forecast suggests, everything will kick into high gear.

Not everyone is pleased with the idea of a proposed $240 million pork processing plant near Mason City. North Carolina-based Prestage Farms said last month it expects to employ up to 2,000 people at its hog slaughtering facility, after it opens sometime in 2017.

But environmental watchdog group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says the need for thousands of hogs will mean more factory farms in North Central Iowa.

Group spokesperson Jess Mazour says the project will have long-term, irreversible consequences.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network

The National Weather Service and the Iowa Agriculture Department say the human touch often beats automation when it comes to measuring precipitation.

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says volunteers are needed across the state. He says all that’s required is an interest in the weather and a special rain gauge.

“The opening of the gauge is four inches in diameter,  much different than what you’d find at the hardware store, it offers a better catch, therefore more representative of what’s going in. “ he says.

Flickr

With Spring Break just two weeks away, officials at Iowa’s three public universities are encouraging students to be cautious if they are traveling to areas where the Zika virus may be present.

Iowa State University Student Health Director Erin Baldwin says they aren’t trying to spoil anyone’s fun but they want students to be informed.

The first month-and-a-half of 2016 has been particularly deadly in terms of fire deaths in Iowa.

The State Fire Marshall’s office confirms 13 people have perished in their homes with a 14th death from a weekend blaze likely to be added this week.

Spokesperson Ron Humphrey says the numbers are double of those of last year at this time.  Humphrey says half of the fatalities occurred in just two fires in January. Three people died in a home in Montrose in southeast Iowa, and a mother and her three children perished in a blaze in Boxholm just south of Fort Dodge.

TravelIowa.com

While ice fishing has been in full swing for several months, anglers heading out are encouraged to bring a friend and check the ice often as they make their way to their favorite fishing spot.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Iowa Caucuses are a week away, and candidates for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations are out in force, rallying their supporters and trying to make sure they caucus next Monday. Democratic front runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders held a combined 13 campaign events this weekend, mostly in eastern Iowa. 

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was the surprise winner of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses after a recount showed a 42 vote swing in his favor. Two weeks earlier, Mitt Romney had been declared the winner by just 8 votes.

Santorum’s back on the campaign trail in 2016 but not faring nearly as well as he did four years ago.  IPR’s Pat Blank recently spoke with him prior to a town hall meeting in Waterloo.

Pat Blank: Joining me today is former Pennsylvania Senator and 2016 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Welcome.

Sarah Boden/IPR file photo

The winner of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses, Rick Santorum is making a final push through the state this week.

The former Pennsylvania Senator was a surprise winner four years ago after initial results showed Mitt Romney winning by just 8 votes.  Two weeks later, after a recount, Santorum was declared the winner. Many believed the snafu would be the end of the Iowa caucuses.   Santorum says he still believes in the procedure that puts Iowa at the top of the political process.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Meskwaki Tribe near Tama has been awarded a one-point-six million dollar grant from the U.S Department of Human Services.

The money will be used over the course of five years to expand the tribe’s forty acre produce farm known as Red Earth Gardens.

Economic Development Director Larry Lasley says part of the project’s mission is to revitalize the Meskwaki customs of seasonal growing and gathering.

He says the purpose is, “to continue those traditions and help promote and teach younger family members to carry on that heritage."

Pat Blank/IPR

Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews is ending his 15th term in office. He decided to retire instead of facing a run-off election with Cedar Falls School board member Jim Brown.

Crews says, " I consider myself lucky because I've had far more good days on the job than bad ones."

Crews made headlines in 1971 when he was elected mayor at the age of 25. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank  talks with Crews about his career and his future plans.

  

A national veterans’ advocacy group is visiting with presidential candidates as they crisscross the country in effort to hold them accountable.

Members of Concerned Veterans of America will be in Iowa tomorrow and next week for a series of town hall meetings.  CVA Executive Director Pete Hegseth says it’s part of an effort get both Republicans and Democrats on the record.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

A Quinnipiac poll last week shows Republican Presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz of Texas surging in Iowa and closing in on front-runner Donald Trump. Iowa Public Radio's All Things Considered Host Pat Blank caught a ride with him to Amana Sunday night after a campaign stop in Van Horne, and asked about some of the issues that are top of mind for Iowans two months out from the caucuses.

Pat Blank/IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is in Iowa trying to gain some momentum in his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination.

He told a gathering at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo Tuesday that he disagrees with President Obama’s statement this year that climate change is a major issue affecting nearly every American sector.

“The idea that 99-percent of scientists believe that this is all decided is just not true,” he said. “It’s true that the climate changing, but that’s not a Captain Brilliant comment, it’s a Captain Obvious comment.”

Getting Homes Winter Ready

Nov 28, 2015
Pat Blank/IPR

People who need help with the cost of getting their home ready for winter can get it from Green Iowa AmeriCorps. Its programs help low income, elderly, disabled, and veteran households with such things as caulking, minor insulation, and eliminating drafts. Outreach coordinator, Brad James, says the program is about both education and assistance.

Pat Blank/IPR

The Iowa Turkey Federation wants consumers to know that it’s safe to eat their product.

This summer’s avian influenza outbreak wiped out about 25 percent of the state’s turkey production facilities. The USDA has declared the emergency over and producers have begun re-populating their barns.

Turkey Federation Executive Director Gretta Irwin says people were never in danger because sick birds never entered the food chain.

National Weather Service

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Zogg in Johnston describes the criteria for determining if weather events will be storms or if winter weather advisories are more appropriate. He gives advice about driving in the first snow and offers a look ahead to what travelers may expect for Thanksgiving.  

Mobile Health/flickr

The University of Northern Iowa is the latest of the state’s three public universities to report cases of the mumps.

Iowa Department of Public Health officials are warning students to take seriously the outbreak of mumps that’s been affecting the college communities since the beginning of the school year.

Pat Blank/IPR

Longtime Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews is calling it quits. He announced Thursday he’s decided to retire instead of facing a run-off election next month.

Crews is currently serving his 15th term, having held the office three separate times over the past 40 years. This week’s election showed him finishing second in a three-candidate field, about 700 votes behind Cedar Falls school board member Jim Brown.

Crews says Brown will still have to run, but now the focus will be different. 

Four North Iowa school districts are being recognized by the State of Iowa today for leading the way in providing students with innovative opportunities to partner with local businesses and gain skills that will help them land careers in high-demand fields.  The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is awarding $25,000 to Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts.

Iowa DNR

Beautiful fall weather has extended park visits and camping opportunities around the state for many outdoor enthusiasts. However, increasingly dry conditions have prompted the State Fire Marshall to issue burn bans in nearly a quarter of the state.   The bans include many of the state parks.

Iowa Northern Railroad

State railroad officials are urging pedestrians, hunters, and others to resist the urge to take a shortcut along the tracks in an effort to save time. Assistant General Manager for the Iowa Northern Railroad, Mark Vaughn says walking on or near the tracks is illegal and it’s dangerous because it can take a mile or more for a train to stop.

Pat Blank/IPR

Once the weather turns cold, the first utility bill following the temperature dip usually prompts homeowners to look for ways to rein in costs. Most Iowa utility companies and rural electric cooperatives offer ways to save energy free of charge.  Some offer to bring in a home energy specialist like Jason Jefferson.

Pat Blank/IPR

Rand Paul has become the first presidential candidate to live stream an entire day on the campaign trail. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filled an iconic Waterloo ballroom with more than 12 hundred supporters. The crowd at the Electric Park Ballroom repeatedly chanted "USA" and "Trump, Trump, Trump".  The GOP front runner got some of the loudest applause when he talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is on a two-day swing through eastern Iowa. Thursday night in Cedar Falls he told a crowd of more than 300 that the federal government is failing in its obligation to keep Americans safe.

The junior Senator from Florida says there’s plenty of blame for what he calls the loss of prestige by the U.S. He says the recent air strikes by Russian planes in Syria are proof that the situation is out of control.

John Pemple/IPR file photo

Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is among those sponsoring legislation aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders.  Grassley appeared at a Washington news conference today with Senators from both parties.  He called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 a significant change in how the courts treat lower-level drug crimes.

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is in Iowa today (Tuesday) unveiling a plan to scale back federal regulations. The former Governor of Florida told a crowd of 100 at a Waterloo diner that it’s time to shift the power back to the states. He says his idea would kick start economic growth. 

IPR's Pat Blank

As the fall harvest hits full speed, state public safety officials are asking motorists to check their speed as they approach over-sized farm equipment on the road.

Iowa Highway Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says traditional cars and trucks are no match for the agricultural machinery, which often weighs several tons.

“This time of year you need to watch for those large trucks, tractors and implements," he says.  "It can be anything from a small tractor to a large 20 row bean head combine,” he said.

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