Ben Stanton

Talk Show Producer

Ben Stanton started in radio doing public affairs programs in Phoenix.  He has worked as a reporter at commercial and public radio stations in Iowa and Alaska.  He first came to IPR in 2013 and he has been a talk show producer and substitute host. He lives in Washington, Iowa with his family.

Andy G. /

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services including using new technologies like video streaming. This method has been growing in use in recent years, and the topic was the subject of a panel discussion earlier this month at the Iowa Ideas Conference in Cedar Rapids. It was moderated by River to River host Ben Kieffer.

Keith Allison /

When President Trump feuds with superstar athletes, what does the reaction reveal about our country’s deep political divisions? On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political analysts Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa.

In light of NFL players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, Goldford says that there is a complicated relationship with free speech.

Image submitted by Barbara Taylor

The vaquita porpoise is the rarest marine mammal on Earth, and it is disappearing fast.

In this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with NOAA conservation biologist Barbara Taylor.  They discuss the unique qualities of this animal, its habitat in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, and they talk through the plan next month to try to retrieve the last of of the vaquitas and save them from extinction.  

"When I started doing this work over 20 years ago, we had about 600 in the population, and now there are less than 30 left on planet Earth."

photolibrarian /

Fort Atkinson in Northeast Iowa was built and operated in the 1840s.  After it was no longer used by the military, it deteriorated over many years.  In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Bill Whittaker, Research Director in the Office of the State Archeologist of Iowa.  

Whittaker says that his office did research at the site and was aided through a common archeological exploration of the bathroom.

Sam Lee /

In this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores why learning a foreign language is important.  

Guests include Pam Wesely, Associate Professor of Foreign Language and ESL Education.  Wesely is also President-elect of the Iowa World Language Association.  She says that learning a foreign language is important. 

"It's important for people—not just to get into college, but also for life, and for jobs, and for being a global citizen."

Since 1981, Bob Dorr and the Blue Band have played about 100 gigs per year all around Iowa and the Midwest. Over their 30-plus year run, they have become one of Iowa's most celebrated bands, playing their beloved, self-described brand of blues/soul/rockabilly/reggae/Creole/rhythm music at festivals and venues across eastern Iowa, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Omaha, and Chicago. They have shared the stage with such icons as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Bobby Rush.


Heated conversations—especially political ones can be unsatisfying and emotionally draining.  In this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with the co-facilitators of a "difficult conversations" workshop organized by the University of Iowa School of Social Work.  Guests are Alison Oliver and Jefri Pallermo from the University of Iowa, and North Liberty based consultant, coach, and speaker Heather Woody joins in for advice for workplace conversations.

John Pemble

Bruce Campbell has been producing and starring in films since the 1970s, and through work largely with low-budget horror films, he has carved out a niche for himself as an iconic B movie actor. His most recognized role is that of Ash in the Evil Dead film franchise, which has produced three films, six video games, numerous comic books, and a critically-acclaimed TV show on Starz entitled Ash vs. Evil Dead, which was renewed for a third season in 2016. He mentions how his horror movie The Evil Dead received some added credibility from a fellow horror icon.

John DC Anderson /

In under three years, Mike Glenn went from needing glasses to complete vision loss. In this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe talks with guests about conditions that can lead to adult vision loss or severe impairment. Glenn lost his vision to diabetic retinopathy. Nebbe also talks with Archie Rodin who has gradually been losing his sight to macular degeneration.

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More people than ever are enjoying Iowa's trails and waterways, but because of state funding cuts, there are Iowans concerned about the future of those waterways. In this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Brian Morelli, Gazette Reporter who recently examined this issue in "An Unclear Path for Outdoor Recreation."

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The 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Shelley Vroegh, often cites an article written for new teachers that compares teachers to marigolds. She says that if you plant marigolds near vegetables, they are going to make those vegetables thrive. She adds that it's important for teachers to ask themselves what qualities are going to help other teachers thrive.

The article also talks about how walnut trees are poisonous and you don't want to plant near them.  

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David Cwiertny of the University of Iowa is an expert in water quality and water resources. He's also one of 35 science and technology experts who've spent the past year working in the U.S. Congress as part of a fellowship program through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the experience in this edition of River to River.

Michael Saechang

For groups trying to affect firearms policy, what are their priorities, challenges, strategies for the future? Where is money and lobbying efforts going? What do Americans think about access to guns, and what do those view say about their own politics? In this River to River program as part of our continuing Guns in Iowa series, host Ben Kieffer gets two looks at the national gun debate.  

courtesy of Amy Mayer/IPR

Some astronomers and enthusiasts have been waiting years for today’s solar eclipse.  Almost all of Iowa experienced a partial eclipse, and the path of the total eclipse was further south and west. There is a small portion, a few hundred acres, of extreme southeast Iowa in that path.  

Iowa State University Professor of Astrophysics Steve Kawaler joins the conversation to talk about the eclipse. He describes the experience of a total eclipse.

Steve Dinsmore

The bar-tailed godwit has an impressive flight pattern; the bird can fly from Alaska to New Zealand in eight days.

The bird normally breeds in Alaska and then flies an often non-stop migration route to New Zealand and Australia, but incredibly, one bar-tailed godwit landed south of Des Moines last week. It's the first time it has been documented in Iowa; it's only ever been documented in inland North America in Utah.

Vietnam Mobiography

In response to new UN sanctions over its banned nuclear weapons program, North Korea has vowed to retaliate against the U.S.  

In this politics day edition of River to River, guest host Emily Woodbury talks with political scientists, Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Scott Peters of the University of Northern Iowa, about President Trump's reaction to the developments in North Korea.  

Sandy Dyas Photography

Susan Becker was having a tough time.  Her mother had recently died.  She started feeling like she had made wrong decisions. She wasn't motivated.  She decided there needed to be a change.

She got a job as a lunch lady in Bellevue in northeast Iowa, and she was managing a staff that was many years older than her.  It was challenging, and ultimately it was enjoyable, meaningful, and sparked a renewed outlook on her life.  

"These ladies, what they considered their was service with love."

Steve Gibbons

December of this year marks the 60th anniversary of the premiere of The Music Man on Broadway; it was written and composed by Mason City native Meredith Willson.  In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what the musical says about Iowa and why the music and story have remained popular.

First, we visit the Des Moines Community Playhouse, which has one last weekend of performances of their production of The Music Man.  We hear from actors Brad Church and Katy Merriman who play Harold Hill and Marian Peroo.  

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U.S. veterans coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq can face major challenges re-entering civilian life. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer updates the latest research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We also hear from an Iowa veteran drawing attention to PTSD and the problem of veteran suicide by running across Iowa. Joshua Jorgensen will run the whole distance across the state wearing a military-style gas mask. Jorgensen says veterans might not know where to turn as they return to communities. 

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In 2004, Mandy Martinson was addicted to methamphetamine. She helped her drug dealer boyfriend as a way to feed her habit, but when her home was raided and drugs were found she received a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison. She received clemency last year and is now home rebuilding her life. During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Martinson about her long road to freedom and recovery.
Chiot's Run

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to check for ripeness, but other garden fare can be tough, especially with underground vegetables.  

For new potatoes, Steil says that you need to wait until the tops dieback.

Matt Murphy

Due to the Iowa Legislature’s statewide budget cuts, the state’s fifteen community colleges will see a $3 million decrease in funding. In this River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with three Iowa community college presidents: Des Moines Area Community College President Robert Denson, Kirkwood Community College President Mick Starcevich, and Northeast Iowa Community College President Liang Chee Wee.

NASA Public Domain

Iowa has a connection to the Apollo moon landing, which happened 48 years ago.  The communications equipment in the command module was designed by Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids.  In this portion of River to River, Mike Wilson joins the conversation. He is former VP of operations at Collins Radio and also worked for Rockwell-Collins once that company was formed.  Wilson says they had two sets of equipment in the case.


Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says he is “disappointed” with comments made by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly earlier this week. Kelly says states that are not asking the federal government for help with protecting their elections from hackers are “nuts.”

Secretary Pate says that in recent years, the Department of Homeland Security has not given state election officials enough information.

University of Northern Iowa

University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook is relatively new to the job, and he joins River to River host Ben Kieffer to talk about higher education and priorities at UNI.  He says his school will continue to have a high percentage of Iowa residents attending.  Nook says about 85%-90% of UNI’s students are from Iowa, though he's open to admitting more out-of-state students.  

Gage Skidmore

The Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is running into roadblocks, so what are the implications for the rest of the GOP agenda?  

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by University of Northern Iowa political science professor Donna Hoffman, as well as University of Iowa associate professor of politics, Tim Hagle.

Although there has been a lot blame passed around for the bill's failure, Hoffman says, "It's a whole congruence of  issues that came together to defeat this."

CLIC Sargent / Flickr

No one wants to wind up in the hospital, but it's not just the threat of a health crisis that makes us dread a visit. The environment - the stark, sterile, cold, and clinical atmosphere isn't the most pleasant. Hospitals everywhere are trying to change that. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Rodney Dieser, a professor of leisure, youth and human services at the University of Northern Iowa about his research into how the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has approached making their space more welcoming for families and less stressful for staff. 

Ann Sullivan-Larson

In 2011, after 73 years in business, the Electrolux factory in Webster City closed its doors. The closing was a major blow for the small town, but the people Webster City didn’t take the loss sitting down.

A new short documentary, "Made in Iowa," focuses on the growth of small businesses in Webster City following the factory closure.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the man behind the documentary, the Webster City mayor, and a life long resident of Webster City.

Recrea HQ

An Iowa woman has been sentenced to sixteen months in federal prison for assisting with an email scam.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa says that 67-year-old Victoria Lovan pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud.

Gage Skidmore

President Donald Trump comes to Iowa today for the first time since his inauguration. He will be visiting Kirkwood Community College followed by a campaign-style rally tonight in Cedar Rapids.

In this politics day on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University, and Bruce Nesmith, Joan and Abbot Lipsky professor of political science at Coe College.