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

Ruud named to lead UNI

Feb 7, 2013
IPR's Dean Borg

The State Board of Regents today announced the selection of William N. Ruud (ROOD), as the 10th president of the University of Northern Iowa. Ruud currently serves as president of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Ruud will assume the duties of UNI president on June 1 and will be paid an annual salary of $340,000. The date for an official welcoming on the UNI campus will be announced later.  Ruud was one of two finalists for the job. The other was Indiana University-Purdue University Chancellor Emeritus Michael Wartell.

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A  federal judge has sentenced 64- year- old Russell  Wasendorf, Sr. to 50 years in prison.  Last July, following an attempted suicide, Wasendorf  admitted to stealing more than 215 million dollars in customer funds from his Cedar Falls brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group.

In a plea agreement in September, he pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud, embezzlement and making false statements. 50 years is the maximum punishment for those offenses. There is no parole in the federal court system. He was sentenced by Chief Judge Linda Reade.

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Asian-American civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs has traveled from her home in Detroit to

speak at Grinnell College as part of the campus celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. She tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, she wasn't a fan of the idea when it was first proposed.  At 97, Boggs continues to be active with a program known as Detroit Summer.  It's a project that's been underway for several years involving the city's young people with activities such as gardening and renovating inner city buildings.

Flu shot scramble

Jan 10, 2013

Reports of widespread flu on the East Coast and news anchors getting vaccinated on morning television has sent some Iowans scrambling to get a last minute flu shot. Iowa Department of Public Health medical director, Patricia Quinlisk says the state is reporting about a 4% increase in cases compared to last year.

IPR's Pat Blank

Mitas in Charles City started making radial farm tires last year and is now running two 12 hour shifts seven days a week.  The Czech-based company purchased a former Winnebago Industries building in 2009 and after 50 million dollars in renovations, opened for business in January of 2012.  Mitas makes tires for tractors, combines, and other farm implements. The Iowa Department of Economic Development awarded the company more than 900 thousand dollars to support 154 of the nearly 200 jobs that have been created.

IPR's Pat Blank

A Northeast Iowa dairy is the latest to invest in a mechanical employee to help with the milking chores. The farmers are hoping the device will enable them to stay competitive in an industry that’s losing producers at an alarming rate. Kevin and Cherish Kueker installed a robot in June. They’ve joined with a neighbor to milk 95 cows and raise calves. Each animal is fitted with an ankle bracelet with a computer chip. In the seven minutes it takes to milk the cow, the chip reveals a detailed history.

Deer numbers down

Nov 29, 2012

Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley was in a car that hit a deer last month and that was the beginning of a series of tweets to see if other Iowans have had similar experiences this fall. Senator Grassley says in addition to the vehicle crash, he began noticing a significant amount of dead deer along the highway.

Department of Natural Resources deer biologist Tom Litchfield admits there are certain pockets in the state where there are high concentrations of deer, but for the most part

Oh Christmas Tree

Nov 21, 2012
Pat Blank

Danny Moulds owns Kris Kringle’s Trees just north of Cedar Falls. He says the hot dry summer took a harsh toll on newly planted seedlings. He says he lost around 15 thousand Christmas  trees on his 46 acre farm.

Had those young trees survived they would have been ready for harvest in 2019. Because the drought was so widespread, Iowa Department of Natural Resources District Forester Mark Vitosh says it may be harder to find the more popular varieties in the future.

Pat Blank

A blue and white “Now Hiring” sign hangs on the front of the Wonder Bread bakery in downtown Waterloo.  It’s an outdated sign because not only is the company not adding workers, last Friday it laid off everyone who worked there.  Parent company Hostess has filed for bankruptcy idling nearly 19 thousand workers across the country. A federal judge is considering the case and has agreed to mediation.

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The highly acclaimed movie “Argo” is finishing its run through Iowa theaters this week. Directed by Ben Affleck “Argo” depicts the rescue of six U.S. Embassy workers from Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis.

A Waverly woman, Kathryn Koob has a unique prospective of those events because she was one of two women who did not escape and was held by the Revolutionary Guard for 444 days.

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Hundreds of Iowa utility workers are on the East Coast helping restore power to the thousands knocked offline by Super Storm Sandy. Just as progress is being made, another storm threatens to undo much of the work already accomplished. Lead Safety Consultant for Alliant Energy in Cedar Rapids, Kent Sodawasser says crew members are struggling with downed trees.  Sodawasser says he was humbled today when a man wearing a red, white and blue tie shook his hand and said, "Thanks for putting my power back on, now I don't have to watch over my generator and I can go and vote."

A crowd of nearly one thousand packed a gymnasium at the University of Northern Iowa Friday afternoon  to hear Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan tell them why he and Mitt Romney should lead the country.

First District Rematch

Oct 30, 2012
IPR's Pat Blank

The race for Iowa’s First Congressional District is a re-match of two years ago with Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley facing Republican challenger Ben Lange.  In 2010, Lange lost to Braley by just two percentage points. 

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Utility crews from throughout the country including several from Iowa are on their way to the East Coast to be on the scene for anticipated power outages from the Hurricane Sandy.   More than 100 Alliant Energy employees left Cedar Rapids for the journey yesterday including Kent Sodawasser who joins Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank by phone from Pennsylvania. Kent Sodawasser is Lead Safety Consultant for Alliant Energy. We hope to check in with the crew again as the storm progresses this week.

Pat Blank IPR

The trial for a former Bosnian Serb leader began today in The Hague with him defending against allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war in 1992-1995.  At the same time an American,  Tamir Waser who serves at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, is traveling in Iowa stopping in Waterloo and Des Moines. Both cities have large Bosnian populations.   He talks with Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank

Pat Blank IPR

The candidates in the race for Iowa’s first congressional district met for their first debate of the campaign Wednesday afternoon. Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank reports the two are far apart on most issues..

Cows eating candy?

Sep 26, 2012

Gummy bears, chocolate, ice cream, and chewing gum:  sounds like a junk food binge, but those products are actually helping some Iowa cattle producers stretch their dollars. Prices for corn-based livestock feed have jumped nearly 20 percent. So some farmers are using leftover or off grade items like partially melted candy bars, from local food processors, to supplement.

Pat Blank

Farm equipment maker Unverferth Manufacturing Incorporated is taking a leap of faith by adding jobs with the help of a 600 thousand dollar boost from the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

The Shell Rock plant is Butler County’s largest employer with 425 current jobs. The state money will be used to build a  6 million dollar expansion and create 75 jobs over three years.

Dean Borg

      With the wind energy tax credit about to expire at the end of this year….power companies are using favorable fall weather to install more towers across Iowa’s landscape.

      Cranes are working in an Eastern Iowa cornfield near Mechanicsville to build what will be the tallest wind generator in North America.                  

 Two towers….one concrete and the other steel…..and the generators are being built by Acciona (AX-SEE-OH-NA) which has a plant in West Branch, Iowa.

Dean Borg

Governor Terry Branstad has named veteran Cedar Rapids educator Tania Johnson  the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year.

Johnson spent most of her 22-year teaching career in Cedar Rapids kindergarten classrooms before she accepted a teacher leadership position with her school district this fall.

Twice Blessed

Sep 6, 2012
Christina DeShaw

This past Monday, a central Iowa couple was able to bring their twin babies home for the first time. One baby, the boy, was born healthy, but his sister has a serious heart defect that kept her hospitalized for nearly four months. In January, at 18 weeks of pregnancy Brad Weitl and Christina DeShaw discovered that one of their twins had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. This was Ava, her brother Aidan’s heart was fine. After the diagnosis, Christina got on the internet to gather information about what to do next.

In May of 2008, an EF5 tornado hit Parkersburg and New Hartford in Northeast Iowa. Two weeks later. the entire town of New Hartford was evacuated because of flooding. In both cases, property owned by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley and his family was spared. This summer’s natural disaster however is different.  Although the Grassleys' farmland in Butler County will still produce a crop, the yields are greatly reduced. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank walked with Senator Grassley through his corn and soybean fields on Wednesday afternoon.

Pat Blank

A northeast Iowa woman is part of a study that’s helping unravel a rare heart condition that strikes young, otherwise healthy people. 42- year- old Tracy Hjelle (YELL-ee)  is the picture of health, she’s athletic and is in great shape, that’s because she’s the pitching coach for the Luther College softball team, but her world turned upside down on a Sunday morning in April as she and the team were preparing to leave Decorah for a game in Wisconsin.

University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen has announced plans to retire "no later than July 1, 2013."  Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank reports.

Wasendorf Waits

Jul 26, 2012
Waterloo Courier

Russell Wasendorf had hoped tomorrow would be the day he’d be released on bail...

But the hearing's been postponed, so the former head of Peregrine Financial Group remains in jail…

and the business empire he built,  first in Chicago and then later in Iowa,  continues to crumble. 

His once fairy tale like existence came to an abrupt end earlier this month.

Financial Fallout

Jul 11, 2012

Economic development officials have begun to assess the fallout from the abrupt closure of the Cedar Falls-based international brokerage firm, Peregrine Financial Group doing business as PFGBest.  The company is being investigated by both governmental and regulatory officials for fraud and misuse of customer money.  220 million dollars is reportedly missing, Company founder, 64 year old Russell Wasendorf Sr. attempted suicide on Monday. CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber, Steve Dust says they're reacting to what they know and discounting what they can't verify.

New Skills=New Life

Jul 2, 2012
Pat Blank

The job market can be a challenge for anyone these days, but imagine what it’s like for someone who’s spent time in prison or who has a less than stellar work history for other reasons.  Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank reports on an innovative program in Northeast Iowa that’s slowly making a difference.

Adapting Well

Jun 17, 2012
Pat Blank

As athletes around the world fine tune their skills in order to compete in the London Olympics, another much smaller, specialized group has just completed a four day camp in Cedar Falls.  Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank takes us to the Adapted Sports Camp at UNI.

Depot Spared

Jun 8, 2012

A 100 year old railroad depot set for demolition this summer, will instead be the site of a birthday party. The Gilbertville Depot now belongs to a non-profit organization which is hoping to re-open it as a stop along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank talks with the group’s Dick DeWater.  The birthday event is set for the afternoon of July 7th.



To learn more about the Gilbertville Depot: