Clare Roth

Ways to Connect

Joyce Russell/IPR

This program originally aired on November 8, 2016.

The Iowa African-American Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding achievements of African-Americans who have enhanced the quality of life for all Iowans. Since its inception in 2002, 65 Iowans have been inducted into the IAAHF. This year, they inducted four.

Kesho Scott

Mike Mozart / Flickr

A minimum wage law passed through committee in the House of Representatives at the state legislature this week.

"The bill in the House would prevent local governments in Iowa from passing higher minimum wage laws than the state minimum wage. As you know, four counties have done that," says IPR Statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell.

The state minimum wage is currently at the federal level, $7.25 an hour.

Ted Eytan / Flickr

After a lengthy confirmation hearing, protests, and two Republicans breaking with their party to vote no, President Donald Trump's education secretary pick, Betsy Devos, was confirmed by the Senate. Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted, "It is a disgrace that my full cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country." [This statement is demonstrably false and will continue to be unless the confirmation process of Trump's cabinet takes an additional seven weeks.

COD Newsroom / Flickr

Whether or not your team won last weekend, this year’s Super Bowl comes at a time when the Iowa legislature is considering new laws for so-called “collision sports” in Iowa schools.  

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

The Kirkwood Culinary Arts program, located on campus in Cedar Rapids, was ranked as the #16 Culinary program in the country by Best Choice Schools. David Horsfield, department chair of hospitality at the school, says it's due to some true foresight Kirkwood leaders had in the late 2000s to create a classroom that would operate in the real world. The program has students serve regular guests off the street, instead of simply their teachers and fellow chefs-in-training. He dubs the inciting incident "the whisper story."

Courtesy of Akwi Nji / The Hook

“The Hook” is building community and bringing people together in Cedar Rapids through story-telling, poetry and other performance. The creative collaborative began in January 2016 with poetry readings and curated live performances. Now it's expanded to ARTLoud, a program that intersects poetry, music, and dance, and a new series that takes place in the living rooms of regular folks around the city.

Andrew Malone / Flickr

Nate Silver calls Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a polling firm based in West Des Moines, “America’s Best Pollster in Politics."

All that has happened relating to the November election seems long ago, but now that the dust has settled on that surprise outcome, Selzer says many underestimated the dissatisfied mood of the electorate.

Jim Wise / Flickr

Tami Rundle understands that a barn is not necessarily the sexiest subject for a documentary. When her husband Kelly suggested doing an hour-long feature of the creation and history of barns, she was hesitant.

"I was like, 'Ooo-kay...we'll give this a shot,'" she laughs. "But, as is often the case with our documentary subjects, I caught the bug. And probably the most inspirational and wonderful part of the project was hearing these stories, and that really is the soul of the film. That is what brings these barns to life again."

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Suicide rates in the United States are the highest they’ve been in 30 years, but no matter what statistics show us, each individual loss to suicide is devastating. Survivors are left with grief, anger, questions and often a sense of guilt. Cheri Jenkins, whose father and mother both died by suicide, said one of the hardest emotions for her to reconcile was anger.

angela n. / Flickr

As Donald Trump is inaugurated today, President Obama will be in attendance, following a tradition that highlights one of the most important aspects of inaugurations.

"It's an amazing event in that it signifies the peaceful transition of power, usually from one party to another," says Cary Covington, Associate Professor of political science at the University of Iowa.

Justin Sloan / Flickr

As President Obama's presidency draws to a close, the nation is reflecting on his eight years in office. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Jessica Welburn, assistant professor of sociology & African American studies at the University of Iowa, Lori Chesser, Chair of Immigration Department at Davis Brown law firm in Des Moines, Donna Hoffman, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, about the legacy Obama leaves as a president, as a politician, and as a man.

Chris / Flickr

Shumpei Yamaki never thought dance would work out. He assumed hip hop would be a hobby.

"Then I started to go to school in Philadelphia and I was skipping classes to learn to dance," he says.

Realizing where his passion truly lay allowed him to focus more of his time and energy in the art. He felt he was on his way when someone else's choice sent his life spinning in a different direction once again.

"I got hit by a drunk driver, so I had to stop dancing," he says.  "That was one of my questions for the doctor: 'Can I back flip again?'"

C Tanti / Flickr

Jennifer Holliday has performed at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. When President-Elect Donald Trump's team reached out, asking her if she would perform at his inauguration Friday, she received a huge amount of backlash, including death threats. She canceled.

When asked on The View yesterday why she originally considered taking the gig, her answer was simple.

samdogs / Flickr

More people moved out of Iowa last year than moved in, according to a study by Atlas Van Lines. Atlas has been following what it calls interstate migration patterns of its customers since the early 1990s. 

Atlas says, in 2016, nearly 57 percent of all moves were people leaving the state.

Liesl Ethington, assistant scientist in the economics department at Iowa State University says the informal Atlas study is backed up by more scientific Census data.

2016 in Memoriam

Jan 5, 2017
Carl Wycoff / Flickr

2016 marked the passing of men and women who significantly contributed to Iowa. Artists, public servants, historians, broadcasters--all helped shape Iowa in the years they spent on Earth. On this hour of River to River, we remember just a few of the many notable Iowans who died last year.

Jennie Wolnernan, 91, one of the last survivors of the Holocaust in Iowa, died January 9th.

Tony Webster / Flickr

In his Condition of the State, then-Governor Tom Vilsack declared that 2004 would be "The Year of the Arts, Culture and Recreation in Iowa." 

He continued, "Studies show that creativity spurs economic growth; breakthroughs in understanding are essential to the task of building a world of opportunity. Creative thinking, the hallmark of Iowa's success, will lead us to a more dynamic future."

Andrea Mahoney / Briarwood Healthcare Center

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America says music, when used appropriately, can shift a patient's mood, help with managing stress and agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and help with motor movements. Now, researchers at the University of Iowa are studying the extent of that effect. Alaine Reschke-Hernandez, a music therapist, and Dr.

scion_cho / Flickr

Never go to bed angry, the old saying goes, or that bad feeling will harden into resentment. Now scientists have found evidence to support the idea that negative emotional memories are harder to reverse after a night’s sleep.

The study published recently in the journal Nature Communications found a link between sleep and the consolidation of emotional memories. Dr. Eric Dyken of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorder Center explains:

Gage Skidmore

A tumultuous year in politics is drawing to a close. In a year when the word "unprecedented" was tossed around weekly in election coverage, choosing one defining moment is difficult for political analysts Dave Andersen of Iowa State University and Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa.

"This was a really unusual election year. Very unusual. Certainly the most unusual in my lifetime, and I think going back, even unusual beyond that," says Hoffman.

United States Office of Humanities

Jim Leach served Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. He is now a senior scholar at the University of Iowa after serving on faculty at Harvard and Princeton and after serving as chair at the National Endowment for the Humanities. During this River to River interview, he talks with host Ben Kieffer about his view on global challenges facing the next president.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

This show originally aired May 12, 2016

With the lawsuits between North Carolina and the Department of Justice and widespread boycotts of establishments like Target for their inclusive bathroom policies, transgender rights have been dominating the news cycle. In the middle of the politics and punditry, it's easy to lose sight of what being transgender actually means. Jay Irwin, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, says language is a good place to start.

Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Garden Center

Aleda Feuerbach knows the garden center business; as it grew, she grew, literally. Her parents raised her in the green house, and when they were ready to retire, she took over the family business with help from her husband.

“You don’t count days, you don’t count hours, you just do it,” she says. “You gotta be dedicated to that because family business takes it out of ya. I love it, I’d do it again, but you’ve got to have that make up to make you successful.”

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After choosing men for four of his first appointments to his Cabinet and advisers, Donald Trump appointed two women to positions today: Republican philanthropist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the ambassador to the United Nations. 

Haley, in particular, came as a surprise as she was a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign. Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science at Iowa State University, says this appointment could be seen as an olive branch.

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

It’s 2007, “The World Spins Madly On” is a massive hit, and The Weepies are exhausted.

“We did a year of our car, coffeehouses, 180 shows in 190 days where we were at festivals in Europe and everywhere, and we were just exhausted. And we are like recluses,” says Steve Tannen, one half of the folk-pop/husband-wife duo.

So, after releasing and touring their second album, Say I Am You, he and Deb Talan escaped to a small cabin in a state park one hour outside of Los Angeles, to take a breath and regroup.

“For that time, it was a real refuge. Yea, we did run away a little bit. Partly in order to make our next record and not feel like we had something to prove, just to sort of get a little bit of a cave, where we could just sort of do what we do,” says Talan.

And while their move to Iowa City may make it seem like they’ve run away again, Tannen and Talan says it’s simply the right place for them and their three children.

“This felt more like a running to, to me,” says Talan. “We had two kids, we started looking outside LA. It was so expensive and so crazy, and we had really embraced the crazy for a bunch of years, and then we were just like, ‘I think we need to at least try to feel what it feels like to be outside.’”

“We’re vagabonds and we wanted to put roots down somewhere,” Tannen adds, “and every time we’d been through Iowa we’d say to each other, ‘This is amazing, we should buy a house here and raise a bunch of kids.’”

Their upcoming tour kicks off at the Englert Theater with “The Weepies: Completely Acoustic and Alone.” In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tannen and Talan about recording Sirens, living in Iowa, and how creating music and creating a family intertwine.

Four essentials and four bonus tracks to get acquainted with the folk-pop duo.

Somebody Loved

Tannen has said the key lyric at the center of this song--"You turned me into somebody loved."--is the Tannen-Talan family motto.

The World Spins Madly On

The song that catapulted them to folk-pop stardom.

"The record sold 238 copies the first week," says Tannen. "Then, three months later, it was the number one song on the folk charts of eight countries, including America, and it was on the strength essentially of people sharing that song. I didn't want it on the record, because it was my voice. I love Deb's voice. Mine is fine, I have a fine voice."

"You have a beautiful, emotional voice," Talan interrupts.

She continues, "We were very surprised with how it sort of caught. You put out music that you feel. You write songs that you feel and you produce them in a way that is 'feelingful' and you put them out in the world. And we have songs that are particularly personally resonate, but there's no saying what other people will sort of--what will resonate in their own lives."

Be My Thrill

In a Java Blend interview from May 2015, Tannen explained the origins behind this song were rooted in an argument he and Talan had.

"I just stormed out, I was like 'Fine!' in order to not admit that I was wrong. And I went out and I wrote a song about what I thought I wanted, and it was like the angriest song that I've ever-- and it was some of this song. And I played it for Deb, like 'Here, here's my apology.' [strums guitar angrily] And she said 'Oh my god, it's a love song,' proving what I thought, which is that she's insane. And then she took it and she fixed it and she made it like this, and she made it into an actual love song, and that is marriage as far as I'm concerned."

Sirens

The titular song from their latest album, Sirens was recorded in one take, in the midst of Talan's chemotherapy treatments.

"That was while Deb had chemo and we didn't know what was going to happen and she was extraordinarily tired that week and just impossible to live with, because she was like 'I'm getting into the studio today.' And she couldn't get up, so I helped her up the stairs, and we got one take. And that was that take. And it brought me right back there. And I think that that force of will is what got Deb through. I really do. Deb's ability to say 'This is what I'm doing with my life, whatever is happening.'"

"And your support through it," she adds. "It was a team effort. It was very much a team effort."

Bonus tracks

Jolene

From their first album, Happiness

Orbiting

From their third album, Hideaway

Can't Go Back Now

Also from Hideaway

No Trouble

This video for another hit off of Sirens features photos of the Tannen-Talans at home

Ian Freimuth / Flickr

RAYGUN, the snarky clothing company based out of Des Moines, has made hand towels emblazoned with a donkey, elephant and the words ‘Thank You For Not Discussing the Election” encircled and crossed through, just in time for Thanksgiving. After one of the most divisive elections in modern American history, Thanksgiving dinner will be undoubtedly dicey conversational territory for many Iowans.

Emily Woodbury

It’s been a long election season here in Iowa, and as the dust begins to settle, there's one thing left to do: grab a pint and debrief with fellow Iowans.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer and Clay Masters host post-election conversations in front of live audiences in Marion and Des Moines.

NSHEPARD / FLICKR

In Des Moines, an elementary school teacher reports that a student on the playground hugged her and said she'd be missed if the student's family got deported back to Mexico, and in Cedar Rapids, the Islamic Center is providing counseling for young women struggling with whether or not to continue to wear hijab. 

But in other parts of the state, Iowans are excited about the changing political tides. During this hour of River to River, we hear from a handful of Iowans who are digesting the results of Tuesday and asking themselves, "now what?" 

Pat Blank/IPR

Iowa’s congressional incumbents all won reelection Tuesday, as the delegation remains at three Republicans and one Democrat. 

Republican 1st District Rep. Rod Blum of Dubuque defeated former Cedar Rapids council member Monica Vernon, capturing 54 percent of the vote across 20 counties in northeast Iowa.

Once the race was called in his favor, Blum told a raucous crowd in Dubuque that’s he is going back to Capitol Hill finish what he started when he voted against then-House Speaker John Boehner.

julep67 / Flickr

Tuesday marked the first day of open enrollment for Obamacare health insurance. It comes just a week after the Department of Health and Human Services announced the prices of policies sold on the exchanges would rise an average 22 percent for 2017.  Pete Damiano, Director of the Public Policy Center and of the Health Policy Research Program at the University of Iowa, says that number may be scarier in theory than it is in reality.

Tony Webster / Flickr

In a Quinnipiac Poll conducted from October 20 to 26 in Iowa, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are tied with 44% of likely voters backing each candidate. That polling took place before FBI director James Comey sent a document to Congress explaining there was additional evidence related to Clinton’s use of a private email server.

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