Charity Nebbe

Talk of Iowa Host

Charity Nebbe grew up in rural Iowa just outside of Cedar Falls.  She began her career in public radio at WOI Radio in Ames, Iowa when she was a student at Iowa State University and has been working in public radio ever since.  Early in her career she created Chinwag Theater a nationally syndicated public radio show that she produced and co-hosted with well known author Daniel Pinkwater.  She spent ten years at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and in 2010 returned to Iowa. 

Charity is now the host of Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa, heard weekday mornings at 10.  She is also the host of Iowa Ingredient, soon to debut on Iowa Public Television and the author of the children's book “Our Walk in the Woods,” published in 2008. 

Charity's favorite public radio program is On The Media.

Ways to Connect

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

‘Tis the season for sitting inside, which means it’s a perfect time to pick up a new book. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Kate Rattenborg from Dragonfly Books in Decorah and Barb Stein of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City about the best new books for young readers.

Barb’s List:

Board books:

Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks

“The illustrations are irresistible. They are just wonderful. “

The Napping House Board Book by Audrey Wood

Courtesy of the Museum of Danish America

When Danish immigrants settled in Western Iowa in the 19th century, they created two very different towns three miles apart: Kimballton and Elk Horn. Kimballton was composed of 'Happy Danes' and Elk Horn of 'Holy Danes.'

"One camp are the followers of a Danish theologian, N.F.S. Grundtvig" says Tova Brandt, curator of the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn. "He embraced a holistic approach to Danish faith and culture and community and he argued that those things couldn't be and shouldn't be separated." 

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Nancy Simpson-Brice,  associated with Book Vault in Oskaloosa about their favorite books of the year and recommendations for gifts this holiday season.

Paul’s Picks

Finials: A View of Downtown IC by Marybeth Slonneger

Taysaev / Wikimedia Commons

The terrorist attacks on Paris sparked an outpouring of support for people affected. The attacks in Beirut that day before did not. Why?

Daryl Cameron, assistant professor of social psychology and director at the Iowa Morality Lab at the University of Iowa, says it’s because we don’t respond to the people living in those places in the same way.

“We can imagine what its like to be someone in Paris going through this. It’s harder to think about what it’s like to be someone in Beirut,” he explains.

Kelly Cookson / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University about caring for plants indoors during the winter months.  They discuss holiday plants, traditional house plants and outdoor plants that can be over wintered in the home.  Bringing plants in from outdoors can pose some challenges.  

Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, many have been quick to condemn the group calling itself ISIS, and many have also been quick to condemn Islam.

Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with more than one billion believers worldwide. Imam Hassan Selim of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids  says it’s unfair to characterize all Muslims as terrorists.  

Steve Snodgrass / Flickr

Daniel Finney has struggled with depression for nearly two decades. In that time, his doctors prescribed the two stalwarts in the depression treatment stable: talk therapy and prescription drugs. When he went through a major depressive episode earlier this year, however, his doctor suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

Wikimedia Commons

Time changes everything, and in Iowa, that’s glaringly apparent in many of the state’s communities with populations of less than 5,000 people. So the story goes, small towns are dying. But according to Iowa State Professor Terry Besser, that’s not exactly true. She has been monitoring Iowa’s rural communities  for more than two decades, trying to put her finger on what it is that keeps towns alive… and what contributes to the rural blight.

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Tuesday night during the GOP debate, Marco Rubio was quoted saying that our country doesn’t need more philosophers, we need more welders. Kirkwood Community College Professor Scott Samuelson says that while that’s true, those welders can benefit from studying philosophy.

“Our country was built by farmers reading Cicero,” he laughs.

During this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Samuelson, author of the book “The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction to Philosophy for Everyone.

Courtesy of Rapid Creek Ranch

There are more than 600 certified organic farms in Iowa, and many others using organic and sustainable practices. Doug Darrow produces beef and chicken near Oxford at Rapid Creek Ranch. He started to make the transition from conventional farming to more sustainable practices after a woman approached him at a farmer’s market.

I had a lady come up to me at a market and asked if we sold grass-fed beef, and I said no. She said that if we did, she’d buy all her beef from us. That really struck a chord,” he explains.

Len Matthews / Flickr

In high school, Nick Seymour never saw himself doing stand-up, but once when he got the opportunity to take a class in comedy at Iowa State, he figured it'd be a fun way to spend a semester.

"At the beginning, I didn’t know there’d be a performance associated with it. The teacher shocked us all the first day with that information. Everyone freaked out for awhile."

Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer

For 65 years Charlie Brown has been getting kites stuck in trees, missing footballs, and getting hit by baseballs.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Johnson, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, about why Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang still resonate with audiences, as well as the enduring legacy of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, 15 years after his death.

"He was always authentic," says Johnson about Schulz. "He said to many people, 'To know me is to read the strip; everything I am goes into that strip.'"

If you could pick just one food to represent Iowa, what would it be?  In his new book, "The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food," Mathew Frank has selected a dish for every state in the union.  We talk with Frank about his culinary map of the United States and the food he feels represents Iowa, the Loosemeat Sandwich.

There was a time when it was a rare treat to spot a white-tailed deer in Iowa.  That treat is no longer rare.  Today, it's our monthly Wildlife Day on Talk of Iowa, with wildlife biologist Dr. Jim Pease of Ames.  Jim tells us about the history of deer in the Hawkeye State, their place in the environment and our complicated relationship with them.

jacki-dee / Flickr

Iowa may have had a mild fall so far, but winter is just around the corner. With that in mind, it's time to prepare yards and gardens for the arrival of winter.

Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs at Reiman Gardens, joins host Charity Nebbe to discuss best practices for winter readiness. Steil provides some tips for care of strawberries, asparagus, perennial care, diseased plants, and even how to take care of the leaves covering lawns.

John Pemble

The National Endowment for the Arts was created in 1965 under the Johnson Administration. NEA Chairman Jane Chu has been in office for a little over a year, and during that time she has traveled to 30 states. Chu is currently in Iowa, her first visit to the state as Chairman. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Chu about the NEA's current focus, the division's 50th anniversary, and whether we should be encouraging young people into a career in the arts.

Mark Mathison of Iowa State University unearthed the fossil of a skull that belonged to a fox more than 4 million years ago in Ethiopia.

The fossil has now been named Vulpes mathisoni, or “Mathison’s fox” after it's finder. In this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Mathison about the discovery, what it was like to unearth and research a fossil skull among the culture and politics of several Ethiopian tribes, as well as some of his other adventures as a geologist.

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

Every once in a while we hear about a child musical prodigy who can play an instrument better than most of us could ever dream of playing.  Few of these prodigies become adult stars, but Chris Thile is an exception. 

Thile started playing mandolin with the band Nickel Creek when he was only 8 years old, and he won his first Grammy at age 16.  Today, he fronts the band Punch Brothers and has been named a MacArthur Genius. Starting in early 2016, he’s going to be taking over as host of A Prairie Home Companion for Garrison Keillor.

Wikimedia Commons

Before modern fencing, farmers planted rows of hedge shrubs to keep their animals on their property. Today those hedges are considered a nuisance. Cows can choke on the fruit shed by the bushes, and while some believe hedge apples repel spiders, hedge balls have widely been considered useless.

That’s until chemist Todd Johnson from Burlington discovered the seeds from the fruit contain some of the same anti-inflammatory properties as aspirin and some of the same antimicrobial properties as penicillin.

Courtesy of Joseph Firecrow

Joseph Firecrow remembers growing up on the reservation and listening to the elders play the flute. He started learning the instrument when he was 18 and says a true Cheyenne flute player hasn’t mastered the craft until he can both play and make a flute.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa-based magician Nate Staniforth wants to bring wonder back to the modern world. He’s been practicing magic since he was about 10 years old and is on a mission to encourage people to embrace the unknown.

“Whatever happens at a magic show is tapping into something that fundamentally human,” he says. “If you perform at a kid’s party, it’s the adults in the back that are watching most closely. I think that’s because it reminds us of something we’ve lost… a sense of wonder, maybe.”

Univ. of Colorado

Nervous about how your son or daughter will do at the big university?  Now, what if she found this assignment on her syllabus: "Understand Batman as an historically and culturally specific character," with one lecture called "Batman: The Long Halloween."  Or how about this assignment: "Does Harry Potter have a role in shaping your decision-making?"  Or this essay assignment: "Loyalty and Wit: Friendship and the Formation of Dumbledore's Army."

Lori L. Stalteri / Flickr

Growing plants organically, whether done on acres of farmland or a backyard garden, can be tricky work. Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins Host Charity Nebbe on this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa. Delate explains what cover crops are and how they can improve soil quality by infusing it with nitrogen and carbon and preventing soil erosion, nitrate leaching, and ground water pollution. Delate also discusses the uses and benefits of composting.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

According to the National Retail Federation, 157 million Americans will celebrate Halloween this weekend. As a nation, we’re expected to spend more than $6.9 billion on the holiday, with most of the expense going toward costuming.

Author Lesley Bannatyne says costuming around Halloween has been growing in popularity since the 1880’s.

“When newspapers first started writing articles about the holiday, Victorian hostesses loved it,” she explains. “It has some spookiness. It was edgy. It was a little bit romantic.”

Olivia Godfrey

The 2015 high school cross country season is drawing to a close. The state meet will be hosted this weekend in Fort Dodge, and this marks the first year that girls and boys will race the same distance.

The Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has slowly been increasing the distance high school girls race, at the dismay of some rural coaches who warned that the move to a 5k instead of a 4k could destroy the sport. 

Open Road Media

Iowan Ray Young Bear has been publishing poetry since 1968.  His new book, "Manifestation Wolverine" (Open Road Media),  is a comprehensive collection of his work, previously published and new--work that draws on ancient Meskwaki lore and modern popular culture.  He says his poetry is a link to the writings of his grandfathers.

Asia Society / Flickr

Louie Psihoyos first made waves in water and in cinematic circles in 2009 with his Academy Award-winning documentary about dolphins "The Cove." Now, the Dubuque-native is expressing his passion for protecting the Earth once again in his new film "Racing Extinction."

Brittany Stevens / Flickr

Banned Books week was originally conceived around the titular bans. But Maeve Clark, Adult Services Coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library, says, in 2015, there are other issues of intellectual freedom to worry about.

One of those issues is "self-censorship," when librarians choose to solely stock shelves with non-controversial books. One rural librarian in Iowa, who declined to share her name, says rural libraries face different challenges than urban ones.

Alfred A. Knopf

Jane Smiley, who grew up near St. Louis, graduated from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and taught English at Iowa State from 1981 to 1996, has completed her "Last Hundred Years" literary trilogy with the final volume "Golden Age" (Alfred A.