Talk of Iowa

Weekdays at 10 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 9 p.m. on IPR News

Talk of Iowa brings a mix of regular guests and a range of experts to the microphone to discuss what’s happening in Iowa and what makes this a special place to live. Guests include wildlife expert Jim Pease and the Hort Gang on Fridays.

Talk of Iowa is hosted by Charity Nebbe @CharityNebbe.  It’s produced by Dennis Reese, Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Interest in local food in Iowa is high and now Iowa State University and the state legislature are trying to put some muscle behind that interest. On this Talk of Iowa "Hort Day" we'll talk about Iowa’s "Local Food and Farm Initiative" and how it’s impacting growers, sellers, consumers and the economy in the state. Guests are Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture and Linda Naeve of the Value Added Agriculture Program of ISU Extension.

January is not the ideal month for home improvement projects, but it is a great time to plan. On today's Talk of Iowa, our home improvement expert Bill McAnally of Ft. Dodge is back on the airwaves. We’ll talk about planning and designing your next project. Whether you’re building a new house or remodeling an old room we’ll talk about the things you should know before you get started.

Why are you an Iowan? How did your family wind up here? What is the explanation in your family lore? If you wanted to verify the tales, how would you do it? Wednesday on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe will speak with Theresa Liewer of the Iowa Genealogical Society and Steve Williams of about genealogical research, the things you can learn from it and what resources are available in the state.

Karen Weir-Jimerson

Jan 17, 2012

In her new collection of essay's, So Much Sky, author Karen Weir-Jimerson offers up bite-sized gems that view modern life through a rural lens. Many of the pieces were originally published in her popular "Slow Lane" column for Country Home magazine. Charity talks with Weir-Jimerson about her stories featuring a sometimes-forgotten world of chirping crickets, rogue tornados and country characters.

In a program originally broadcast in August of last year, Charity talks with 2011 inductees into the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame. She's joined by Lionel Foster of the Mason City Human Rights Commission, Robert V. Morris of the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park and Richard S. White, retired General Manager of John Deere Des Moines Works.   

Mike and his dad are on their own, but when dad leaves to teach a seminar overseas, 13-year old Mike is shipped off to live with relatives he's never met before in rural Pennsylvania. That's the premise of the new young adult novel "The Absolute Value of Mike," by National Book Award Winner Kathryn Erskine. Charity speaks with Erskine, who is attending Iowa City's "One Book, Two Book" children's book festival. Also, we hear about Iowa's involvement in the Reach Out and Read program with Molly Olinger Topf, Program Director of "Reach Out and Read Iowa."

Silos and Smokestacks

Jan 11, 2012

The Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area covers 37 counties mostly in northern and eastern Iowa and includes sites that can help visitors understand the story of American agriculture. Today, we'll explore Silos and Smokestacks and find out about four new sites being incorporated into the heritage area: The Johnson County Historical Society, Coralville; Miss Effie's Country Flowers & Garden Stuff, Donahue; Tyden Farm, Dougherty; and the Dysart Historical Center, Dysart.

Many of the tools found in a state of the art operating room are 21st century, but in her new book University of Iowa surgeon Dr. Carol Scott-Conner refers to cutting people open as a “primitive and brutal” way to make a living. On today's Talk of Iowa, Charity speaks with Scott-Conner about her collection of fictional short stories, “A Few Small Moments” and her life as a surgeon.

Governor Terry Branstad's 17th Condition of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at the State Capital is followed by analysis with Iowa Public Radio’s Statehouse Reporter Joyce Russell and Chris Larimer, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa. To hear full audio of the address, click here.

All of Iowa’s creatures need ways to survive the winter. Some winters are more challenging than others. On today's Talk of Iowa, wildlife biologist Jim Pease of Ames will be here. We’ll talk about how wild animals cope with winter and the changes and confusion unseasonably warm weather can cause.

It hasn't felt like January so far this year. Unseasonably warm weather can change people's routines, and it can also be confusing for plants and insects. On this Horticulture Friday, Charity speaks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture and Dr. Donald Lewis, Iowa State University Extension Entomology about how the warm weather is causing behaviors to change in the plant and insect worlds.

Henry James once said, “Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the most beautiful words in the English language.” On today's Talk of Iowa we’ll talk about the words you think are the most beautiful...for what they mean or for how they sound. Language expert and Iowa native Patricia O’Conner is the guest. She is the author of the popular "Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English" and several other language books.

Rapid advances in science and technology have created a need for bright young scientists in the U.S., scientists who often come from other countries. On today's Talk of Iowa, we'll find out about efforts to ignite a passion for science in Iowa’s kids. Charity speaks with Dr. Charles Miller about his efforts to start the Iowa Space Science Center and Brent Studer, who teaches astronomy at Kirkwood Community College.

Caucus 2012 Special

Jan 2, 2012

On caucus day, we listen to a special event recorded Monday night at the Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines co-hosted by Iowa Public Radio's Jonathan Ahl and Minnesota Public Radio's Kerri Miller. The discussion will feature complete caucus analysis from political scientists Tim Hagle from the University of Iowa and Donna Hoffman from the University of Northern Iowa.

Oh My Gods

Jan 1, 2012

The Greek and Roman myths have never died out; in fact they are as relevant today as ever. In his new book Oh My Gods, Phillip Freeman retells some of the most popular myths that have inspired plays, operas, paintings, movies and television programs. From the astonishing tales of the Argonauts to the immortal narrative of the Battle of Troy, these ancient myths have inspired many across the globe. Freeman is Qualley Professor of Classics at Luther College.

The Mississippi River has been dredged, shaped and changed. We’ll travel back in time to when the river ran wild. Guests are Lee Sandlin author of "Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild" (Pantheon Books) and Jerry Enzler, Director of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque.

Women in Agriculture

Mar 1, 2011

Women have always been an important part of life on the farm but have traditionally performed a supporting role. On a special edition of Talk of Iowa produced in conjunction with Harvest Public Media, host Charity Nebbe examines the changing role of women in agriculture. Among the guests- Corry Bregendahl, Assistant Scientist at Iowa State University, Leigh Adcock, Executive Director of the Food and Agriculture Network and Laura Krouse of Abbe Hills Farm in eastern Iowa.

Zakery's Bridge

Feb 28, 2011

The new book, "Zakery's Bridge: Children's Journeys from Around the World to Iowa," features nine young storytellers describing their lives in their home countries, explaining how and why they came to American and what it has been like to settle in Iowa. On its release date in January, the book was the backdrop for the naturalization ceremony for 100 children at the State Historical Museum of Iowa. We'll talk to authors Carol Spaulding-Kruse, professor of English at Drake University and Kay Smith, a Des Moines-based children's author.

To carry on our discussion that was cut short recently because of live coverage of events in Egypt, we return to the topic of the Underground Railroad. We'll hear about what archeologists have discovered in recent years about Railroad locations and what historians know about the Iowans who helped freedom seekers make their way north. Charity Nebbe speaks with Lynn Koos, curator at the African American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids; and Doug Jones, an archaeologist and the The Iowa Freedom Trail Project Manager with the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Meredith Corporation's "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine has released its latest Food Factor Survey, working with 3,600 women across the United States. The report notes that compared to two years ago, women are still focused on healthy eating, with a rising tendency for home-served meals in order to cut back on spending and concentrate on health. The guest is Nancy Hopkins of Des Moines, Senior Deputy Editor of Food & Entertaining at Better Homes and Gardens.

The late poet James Hearst lived and wrote in Cedar Falls. He was known to many as the Robert Frost of the Midwest. On this Talk of Iowa we speak with musician Scott Cawelti, who has given us a new way to experience the poetry of Hearst. Cawelti is also a writer and adjunct instructor in UNI's English Department. Also on the program, Charity Nebbe talks to Nancy Thompson, an Iowa landscape painter and Foundation Drawing Instructor at Iowa State.

Smart phone applications can be useful, fun or even addictive and they are, undeniably, big business. This hour, IPR's Charity Nebbe talks to some of Iowa's leading app developers and we'll take a walk through the City of Literature with an iPhone app as our guide. Guests are: Karen Pease, CEO of Celadon Applications, Iowa City; Steve Mitchell, CEO of Componica, LLC, Iowa City; Karl Becker, founder of "Car Care," Coralville; Prof. John Winet, New Media artist at the University of Iowa; and Ben Holland, a graduate student at Iowa State University ("Zombie Strategies").

Wapsipinicon Almanac

Feb 21, 2011

The Wapsipinicon Almanac comes out just about every year. It's a publication that doesn't shoot for a large audience, or to have universal appeal. It's a homegrown, homemade journal of great writing by and for Iowans. Host Charity Nebbe talks with publisher Tim Fey and contributors Michael Lewis-Beck, Shirley McDermott and Steve Maravetz.

It's too early to get to work in the garden, but it is time to think about your trees and shrubs. We'll discuss spring pruning on this horticulture day, with guests Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturalist and Mark Vitosh, forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Johnson County district).

The movie Cedar Rapids opens Friday, February 18 across the state of Iowa. This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks with the film's star, Ed Helms, about his role in the film as small-town insurance agent Tim Lippe who has his world turned upside down in Iowa. She also talks with the film's screenwriter, Phil Johnston and producer, Jim Burke. Diana Nollen, arts and culture reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette joins the final segment of the show to talk about the portrayal of the city and other films made in and about Iowa.

He was only thirty-two years old when he died, but in his short life Alexander the Great reshaped the world. Today, IPR's Charity Nebbe talks with author Philip Freeman of Decorah about the life and legend of the King of Macedon. Freeman's new book is titled, appropriately enough, "Alexander the Great" (Simon & Schuster). Freeman is a Professor of Classics at Luther College.

Hope Deferred

Feb 15, 2011

The situation in Zimbabwe represents one of the worst humanitarian emergencies today. A new book asks the question: How did a country with so much promise go so wrong? We talk to University of Iowa visiting professor Peter Orner, editor of "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." (McSweeney's Books)

Humans like all other animals are driven by their need to pass their genes along, but in our culture romantic love is much bigger than procreation. This hour, the anthropology of love. We'll talk about love, marriage, dating and sex in Iowa and around the world. Guests are Teresa Downing-Maitbag of Iowa State University and Sonia Ryang of the University of Iowa, both sociology professors.

Iowa was a little known hotbed of abolitionist and Underground Railroad activity. Much of what we know about the subject is the result of recent discoveries. Cedar County, especially the Quaker homes in Springdale and West Branch, was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. We'll hear about a new exhibit at the Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch, "Cedar County, Iowa: A Door to Freedom" with Bonnie Blaford of the National Park Service.

Volunteering in Iowa

Feb 10, 2011

Iowa ranks second in the nation among people who volunteer their time to charitable causes. Join host Charity Nebbe as she explores why more people in Iowa are volunteering than in other states. We'll talk about how more than 1,300 people give their time at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics each year. That's helped Iowa City garner a 2nd place ranking in volunteering among mid-size cities. Later in the show, we'll talk with Adam Lounsbury of the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and Lauren Finke of the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley.