Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a correspondent in 2012.  He covers the statehouse when the legislature is in session, and reports on a variety of topics the rest of the year. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs. His television documentaries have aired on PBS stations across the country. He’s also a regular contributor to NPR’s arts desk, covering indie music news.

Clay is a Nebraska native and worked for Nebraska Public Radio and Television (NET) before coming to IPR. He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the CPB-funded Local Journalism project covering agriculture in the Midwest.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

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2014 Elections
1:26 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Outside Groups Launch Ground Game in Iowa

Denise Bubeck knocks doors for Americans For Prosperity’s Iowa Chapter in a Des Moines neighborhood.
Clay Masters IPR

Since the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision in 2010, there’s been more and more participation in electoral politics by groups not coordinated with campaigns or parties. 

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2014 Elections
6:40 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Ernst, One Week To Go

State Senator Joni Ernst, the Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate, stumps at the Des Moines Register Soap Box at the 2014 Iowa State Fair.
John Pemble IPR

State Senator Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, talks with Morning Edition one week before the 2014 Elections. 

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2014 Elections
6:40 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Braley, One Week To Go

Congressman Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, stumps at the Des Moines Register soapbox at the 2014 Iowa State Fair.
Clay Masters IPR

Congressman Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, talks with Morning Edition one week before the 2014 Elections. 

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Environment
5:44 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Park Service Construction Damaged Native American Burial Sites

Under the watch of the National Park Service, $3 million worth of illegal construction projects went on for nearly a decade at Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa.
Clay Masters IPR

Imagine being able to drive an all-terrain vehicle right up next to a sacred earthen Native American burial mound.

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2014 Elections
10:10 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Final Debate: Ernst, Braley Differ over Abortion and Social Security

Ernst/Braley Campaign Facebook Pages

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley and Republican State Senator Joni Ernst squared off in their final debate for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat at Morningside College in Sioux City Thursday night. 

Braley and Ernst were asked to clarify their stances on fixing social security. Social Security's trust fund is projected to run out in about two decades, potentially reducing Social Security benefits by as much as 25%.

Congressman Braley wants millionaires and billionaires to pay the same portion of earned income into social security as less wealthy Americans.

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Election Coverage
8:04 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Braley, Ernst Debate Dark Money

Ernst and Braley campaign Facebook pages.

The topic of out-of-state money flooding Iowa's airwaves featured heavily in Saturday's U.S. Senate debate.

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Politics
2:03 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Mowrer: I Will Not Apologize

Fourth Districe Congressional Candidate Jim Mowrer
Jim Mowrer for Congress Facebook Page

Democratic congressional candidate Jim Mowrer says he will not apologize for or remove television ads his campaign is running against Republican Congressman Steve King.

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Arts and Culture
6:22 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Maximum Ames Looks to Take Label, Festival to Next Level

Nate Logsdon (left) and Christopher Ford (right) are both Iowa musicians and run the Maximum Ames music label.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

The Maximum Ames Music Festival took place over the weekend. It featured 100 bands from the around the country and Iowa.  It’s organized by two musicians who also run a record label under the same name.  They started this event four years ago to expose the label’s Iowa based musicians to larger audiences, but now they’re changing their strategy.

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2014 Elections
5:35 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Braley, Ernst Differ in First U.S. Senate Debate

Joni Ernst, republican candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks during a debate with democratic candidate Bruce Braley.
Credit Charlie Litchfield / The Des Moines Register

The two major party candidates for Iowa’s open U.S. senate seat debated last night at Simpson College in Indianola. The debate came a day after the first Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of the general election. It shows Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley trailing his Republican opponent State Senator Joni Ernst by 6 points. Braley had the first opening statement and after a quick introduction says there are big differences between him and Ernst.

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2014 Elections
5:53 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Early Voting Begins in Iowa

Secretary of State Matt Schultz
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Early voting for the 2014 midterm elections begins Thursday in Iowa.

A record number of absentee ballots for a midterm election have gone out to Iowa voters according to Secretary of State Matt Schultz. 2014 requests for absentee ballots are about double, compared with 2010.

"We've got about 60,000 Democrats who have asked for absentee ballots," Schultz said. "We've got more than 30,000 Republicans and about 25,000 no-party voters. So you do the math and we're getting close to 100,000."

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2014 Elections
6:33 am
Fri September 19, 2014

The Low Profile Battle for State Senate Majority

Crystal Bruntz, the Republican running for the open Senate District 15 seat, talked to the crowd of the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

  Most of the attention during this mid-term election season in Iowa has been on the races for U.S. Senate and Governor. However, further down the ballot, Iowa voters will determine who controls the Iowa Senate. Right now, Democrats hold a 26 to 24 majority. Democrats must hold all of their current seats, or pick up others to maintain control and are defending six seats in this mid-term election.

Democratic Senate majority leader Mike Gronstal said he’s cautiously optimistic and sees a handful of seats Democrats can pick up.

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Statehouse and Politics
5:45 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Hillary Clinton Fuels 2016 Speculation at Final Harkin Steak Fry

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Tom Harkin flip steaks at the final Tom Harkin Steak Fry.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Former Secretary of State and one-time Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton returned to Iowa Sunday for the first time since her 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in 2008.   She was the featured speaker at retiring  Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry.  Even Harkin admitted she stole the show. 

Senator Harkin took the stage before some ten thousand activists and said this is a hell of a crowd:

“And to think you all came here just to see me,” Harkin joked with the crowd.  “Who am I kidding? You've had some steak now it’s time for some sizzle.”

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Election Coverage
6:34 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Campaigns Ramp Up in Iowa’s Tight U.S. Senate Race

Congressman Bruce Braley (right), the Democratic candidate to replace Senator Tom Harkin (left), listen to the owner of La Quercia meat plant in Norwalk on August 3, 2014. The two lawmakers toured the facility and spoke to reporters about raising the minimum wage.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Republicans have their eye on a handful of seats they need to pick up to take control of the U.S. Senate this November. One is longtime Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, who’s retiring later this year. The open seat pits Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley against Republican State Senator Joni Ernst. Polls show the race neck and neck as the candidates have just more than two months left to campaign.

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Business and Economy
10:50 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Proposed Pipeline Would Cut Across Iowa

Landowners in rural Keokuk County, Iowa discuss a proposed pipeline that would be built in some of their farmground.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

 Business is booming in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale oilfields. With that boom comes a need for infrastructure. More than half of the oil out of the Bakken leaves by train or truck.  But companies are working on pipelines.  One proposed pipeline would cut clear through the state of Iowa. 

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2014 Elections
12:31 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Ernst Says It's Up to Braley to Refute VA Attacks

Joni Ernst, The Republican Nominee seeking Tom Harkin's U.S. Senate Seat, greets guests at a campaign event in Urbandale, Iowa on July, 28 2014.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Joni Ernst, who’s running as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, held her first campaign event after returning from active duty with the Iowa National Guard.

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Sports
8:28 am
Wed July 23, 2014

A Tourist Town Takes on RAGBRAI

RAGBRAI riders pass through Bancroft, Iowa on July 22, 2014.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

The Okoboji area is known for its tourism industry. The most recent data from the Dickinson County Chamber of Commerce says 255 million dollars are spent annually from tourism. But for last 40 years, cyclists on the Register’s Great Bike Ride Across Iowa have never stayed overnight in the Iowa Great Lakes. The natural barrier is a winding highway that goes from four to two lanes to wind around the lakes and an amusement park. But the RAGBRAI moved through the Iowa Great Lakes with no major problems.

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U.S. Supreme Court
9:38 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Conservative or Consistent? The 2013 - 2014 U.S. Supreme Court Session

Interior of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.
Carol M. Highsmith Library of Congress

While some say this year's Supreme Court session was conservative, others have characterized it as consistent.

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News
6:30 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Siouxland Recovers from Floods

Dawn De Wit, of Rock Valley, stands beside a flooded farm field on the outskirts of this town of more than 3,000 residents in northwest Iowa.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

  Torrential downpours in northwest Iowa caused rivers to swell… floodwaters damaged homes, businesses and farmland.  Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are assessing the area to see if it qualifies for federal help. State officials on Monday said public infrastructure sustained more than $15 million worth of damage in the state.

That doesn’t include homes, businesses and farmland in Rock Valley and other parts of the region that were destroyed.

“We’ve had a few (floods), but nothing remotely close to this,” said Rock Valley Mayor Kevin Van Otterloo.

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Studio One
6:32 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Jolie Holland's 'Wine Dark Sea' Influenced by Many Art Forms

Credit Anti-records

    Singer and Songwriter Jolie Holland has been making music since the 1990s. Her new album 'Wine Dark Sea' is this week's CD of the Week on IPR's Studio One. IPR's Clay Masters spoke with Holland soon after she finished recording the album. 

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Election Coverage
8:23 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Ernst Gets GOP Senate Nomination, 3rd District Republican Race Goes to Convention

Joni Ernst makes her acceptance speech for the GOP US Senate nomination on June 3, 2014 at the Des Moines Social Club.
Credit Joyce Russell / IPR

Democratic and Republican Primary voters went to the polls Tuesday to select candidates for the 2014 general election, but for Third-District Republicans it's not over yet. The biggest race last night was for the U.S. Senate Republican primary nomination. State Senator Joni Ernst easily won that race. IPR's Clay Masters talks with University of Northern Iowa Political Science Professor Donna Hoffman about last night's results. 

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2014 Elections
7:40 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Hopes of Breaking up the Political Boys Club in Iowa

Appel Women for Change make phone calls on May 21, 2014.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa will hold its primary on Tuesday, June 3. Democratic Senator Tom Harkin is retiring and that’s set off a domino effect of politicians vying for higher office and this midterm election could make history if voters send a woman to Washington. It’s just one of two states that have never done so or elected a woman as governor; the other is Mississippi.

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Science and Technology
8:33 am
Fri May 16, 2014

White House Climate Change Task Force Meets in Des Moines

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie seated at a table at Cownie Furs, a Des Moines business he owns that's been in his family for generations.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

  National leaders, governors, mayors and tribal leaders met in Des Moines this week for a task force meeting that will make recommendations to the White House this fall. IPR's Clay Masters talked with Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie about what those recommendations might look like.   

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2014 Elections
7:52 am
Fri May 16, 2014

2014 Primary Elections: U.S. Senate

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley speaks at the Iowa Statehouse on January 13, 2013. The next week Senator Tom Harkin annoucned he was retiring and Braley quickly entered the race.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

  Democratic Senator Tom Harkin announced last year he was retiring. It’s been decades since Iowa’s had an open senate seat. 

There are five candidates on the Republican side: State Senator Joni Ernst, Former Energy Executive Mark Jacobs, Ames businessman Scott Schaben, Morningside Economics Professor Sam Clovis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker.

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2014 Elections
7:36 am
Thu May 15, 2014

2014 Primary Elections: The Third District

3rd District Democratic candidate Staci Appel speaks at a round table discussion of the Ryan budget with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-D) at Palmer's Deli in Des Moines.
Credit John Pemble / IPR

One of the biggest surprises this 2014 Iowa election season was Third District Republican Congressman Tom Latham’s announcement late last year he would not seek re-election. Thanks to redistricting in 2012 it was incumbent versus incumbent in the third district when Latham faced another longtime congressman, Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell. 

In 2014, it’s a crowded group of Republicans running to face a Democrat who’s been in the race for almost a year. 

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2014 Elections
6:27 am
Wed May 14, 2014

2014 Primary Elections: The First District

Candidates in the First District Primary. (Top left to right) Anesa Kajtazovic (D), Dave O'Brien (D), Gail Boliver (R), Swati Dandekar (D). (Bottom left to right) Pat Murphy (D), Steve Rathje (R), Monica Vernon (D), Rod Blum (R)
Credit Candidate facebook profile photos

More than a year ago, the 2014 mid-term election looked like a sleepy one in Iowa. But a U.S. Senate seat and two congressional districts are up for grabs without incumbents. With the primary election a little more than two weeks away, IPR's Clay Masters takes a look at the open races. Iowa's first congressional district is in northeast Iowa and includes the cities of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley is leaving his seat to run for Tom Harkin’s U.S. Senate seat.

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Archives
6:48 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Randy Brubaker and the Iowa Visual History Center

Stacks of the Des Moines Register and Evening Tribune are stored at an old dorm at Grand View University in Des Moines.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

Randy Brubaker was a longtime journalist in Iowa. In 1983 he joined the Iowa City Press Citizen and came  to the Des Moines Register in 1988. He held many roles at the Register, most recently he was Senior News Director and oversaw the newspaper's investigative team. He died May 3 of apparent heart failure at 55, just four months after his wife died of a heart attack. In addition to two sons and legions of reporters who he mentored, his legacy includes the Iowa Visual History Center. It's an archive of newspapers and photo negatives that span from the 1940s to 1990s.

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2014 Legislative Session
4:20 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Session Ends, Campaigning Begins

The Iowa Capitol
John Pemble IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week and even though it’s an election year, lawmakers managed to get a few big items accomplished, including a $7-billion budget and a bill that decriminalizes some forms of medical marijuana in the state. At the same time, priority bills from the governor to crack down on schoolyard bullying and expand broadband to rural parts of the state failed.

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Statehouse and Politics
7:33 am
Mon May 5, 2014

What Got Done in the 2014 Iowa Legislative Session?

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters checks in with Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss what got done this legislative year. 

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2014 Legislative Session
3:06 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Neighboring States Wrestle with Many of the Same Issues

Iowa's golden dome
John Pemble Iowa Public Radio

While there are many differences between Iowa and our neighboring states, there are also many similarities.  For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently signed a bill to allow the use of a cannabis extract for the treatment of seizures, while Minnesota's state legislature is still working on a similar proposal.  In recent weeks, an effort to decriminalize the possession of cannabis oil has gained ground in the Iowa statehouse.  In this week's legislative show, Host Clay Masters talks with statehouse reporters in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri to compare notes, and see

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Statehouse and Politics
8:04 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Iowa Lawmakers Expect to Adjourn this Week

Credit John Pemble / IPR

The predictions are out there that Iowa's legislative session will wrap up early this week. On Mondays we check in with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell to make sense of everything going on up at the capitol.

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