Emily Woodbury

Talk Show Producer

Emily Woodbury has worked for Iowa Public Radio since 2011. She became a talk show producer in 2012. Her duties include researching show topics, booking guests, preparing news copy, editing audio, and directing live programming for IPR’s national-award winning shows River to River and Talk of Iowa.

She is also a member of Student Broadcasters Incorporated, which serves as an advisory board to the students who work at 89.7 FM KRUI in Iowa City. Prior to joining Iowa Public Radio, Emily worked as a news director for KRUI and as an intern for Chicago Public Media. She has won awards for her reporting and a couple of her news reports have been featured statewide on Iowa Public Radio's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Emily has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in political science.

Ways to Connect

Image courtesy of Squirrel Cage Jail of Pottawattamie County, Iowa

In 1885, residents of Council Bluffs wanted the city to become a safer community, but did not want to pay more taxes to do so. As a result of this, the Squirrel Cage Jail was implemented, composed of 90,000 pounds of metal standing three stories tall. The design of the jail was a cost-efficient rotary design, where the prisoners were housed in pie-shaped cells that were rotated with a crank and centered around one opening, similar to the design of a "lazy Susan." This design meant that only one jailor was necessary to man each of the three structures, each housing over 90 prisoners.

Mercy For Animals MFA / Flickr

This week, animal rights and free speech organizations filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa that challenges a state law from 2012, often referred to as Iowa’s ag-gag law or ag-whistleblower law.  The law  made it illegal to get a job at a livestock farm through misrepresentation in order to conduct an undercover animal cruelty investigation.

Gage Skidmore

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer asks analysts, Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College, how President Trump’s feud with senior Republican Senator Bob Corker could impact the GOP legislative agenda. They also discuss the repeal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the rollback of the Affordable Care Act birth control mandate, and the ongoing Russian investigation.

The new Vietnam War documentary series on PBS, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novik, is reopening a national conversation about the long, controversial conflict.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa veterans of Vietnam to get their reactions to the series and discuss the relevance it may have today, more than 40 years after the fall of Saigon. 

Don Graham / Flickr

Iowa has been the “king of corn” for almost two decades. In 2015, Iowa corn farmers grew 2.5 billion bushels of corn on 13 million acres of land. Iowa is also the number one pork producer in the U.S.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation exploring how Iowa became the agricultural powerhouse that it is today, as well as how farming has influenced Iowa's culture.

Downspec / Wikimedia Commons

The head of a mental health crisis center in southern Iowa says she expects it to close at the end of the month due to a lack of funding.

Jackie Sharp is executive director of Oak Place in Centerville. She says after a grant ran out, the regional mental health authority refused to fill that funding gap, and the state hasn’t set up rules that would allow Oak Place to bill Medicaid for services. 

"I don't put a lot of faith in us continuing after October 31. I think my alternate plan is to take care of the graduates that we've had and help my staff transition," she says. 

Courtesy of Tracy Peterson

Johnson County has declared that from now on, Columbus Day will be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Iowa City has also made the proclamation - joining dozens of cities across the U.S. in doing so.

In this News Buzz edition of River to River, Ben Stanton talks with Tracy Peterson, an Iowa City resident who has been pushing for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day since the 1990s.

Stephen Melkisethian

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments testing whether extreme partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. It’s a case that could radically reorder our politics.

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer asks political scientists Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University to discuss the High Court’s new session.

They also discuss the political response to the Las Vegas shooting.

Courtesy of Essie Justice Group

One in four women and nearly one in two black women have a family member in prison; and while solutions to mass incarceration have largely focused on men, there are millions of women who have family members in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers.

Army National Guard photo by Sgt. José Ahiram Díaz-Ramos

Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria crippled Puerto Rico, residents of the U.S. territory are still scrambling for all the staples of living – food, water, fuel, medicine, and currency.

First, Puerto Rico got clipped by Hurricane Irma, a huge Category 5 storm whose eye passed just north of the island in early September. That storm left 1 million people without power on Puerto Rico. By the time Maria hit nearly two weeks ago, tens of thousands were still without electricity, and many people on the island haven’t had power for three weeks.

Image courtesy of the University of Iowa After Class

A new honors seminar at the University of Iowa entitled "The Green Room" is more than just a class. It's a community-wide educational experiment. In addition to the 80 students participating, The Green Room has expanded its reach to hundreds of community members. 

Dave Gould, an administrator for the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa, is behind The Green Room.

USDA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that levels of nitrate in drinking water at or above 10 parts per million are unsafe, particularly for infants, who could develop a potentially fatal blood disorder called "blue-baby" syndrome.

The Interim Director for the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination at the University of Iowa, Pete Weyer, says that the latest research shows negative health impacts—particularly cancer—for infants and even adults at a much lower limit.

Silar

As a boy growing up in Czechoslovakia, Ivan Backer escaped the Holocaust. In this hour of River to River, Backer recounts how his family fled Europe during World War II.

Backer is the author of My Train to Freedom: A Jewish Boy’s Journey from Nazi Europe to a Life of Activism, in which he opens up about the day he fled Prague under Nazi occupation. He talks about Nicholas Winton, the man on who organized the Kindertransport trains that saved Backer and more than six-hundred other children.

Casey Reyner

This show originally aired on April 26, 2017.

On this special edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a discussion on presidential power, recorded Tuesday, April 25 at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch. 

Opinions in the audience varied, but as one participant noted: "[I] can't remember the last time we were in an auditorium talking about politics and the entire crowd didn't think just like me. We had a civil discussion with those that think differently. It can happen. There is hope."

Jeff Peterson / Flickr

Iowa Public Radio is airing several American Public Media documentaries in place of River to River, in the brief absence of the show's host, Ben Kieffer.

Courtesy of Deanne and Ron Mirr

As of early today, the death toll from Hurricane Irma stood at 82. More than half the fatalities occurred in several hard-hit Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In Florida, 1.5 million homes and businesses remained without power yesterday, in sweltering heat, five days after the historic storm ripped through southeast U.S.

Residents who evacuated have been returning to their homes to survey the damage and start the process of recovering from this massive storm.

Phil Roeder

Voter turnout is typically low for school board elections. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says turnout is usually 4-7% of registered voters.

"We can do better," says Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, "especially when you think about how there are 480-thousand K-12 kids in our public schools and it’s 60 percent of our state budget."

Nicholls of the Yard / Flickr

Painted lady butterflies are having a really good year, according to Nathan Brockman, entomologist and curator of the Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing at Reiman Gardens.

Brockman conducts an annual survey of butterflies, and he's seen a lot of painted ladies recently.

"Last year, one week we saw 12, one week we saw 21; but when we did our survey this week, we saw 747 individuals on the gardens' ground."

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Many Iowans are familiar with detasseling, the process of pulling the tops off corn plants to achieve cross pollination. For Jamie Christie Christensen and her daughter, Jenna Simpson Davidson, detasseling was an annual lesson in persistence and gratitude.

Jamie and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines to talk about the connection they see between those summers in the fields and their time in the classroom.

This show originally aired on April 4, 2017.

Distracted driving concerns everyone on the road – and it’s something lawmakers at the statehouse have maintained a focus on this legislative session.

Harrie van Veen / Flickr

Roughly 800,000 so called "DREAMers" came to the U.S. illegally as children. Now they face the possibility of deportation. On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts discuss the possibility of a solution from Congress.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Dave Andersen of Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College about the phasing out of DACA, as well as the international uproar over North Korea’s latest nuclear weapons test, and efforts to avoid the gravest of scenarios.

Tony Rinaldo

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected interviews with more than 400-thousand Americans.  Their goals are to preserve and share stories, build connections between people, and create a more just and compassionate world.

"At StoryCorps we like to say listening is an act of love," says StoryCorps mobile tour site manager Morgan Feigal-Stickles. "It's this idea of coming together with somebody you care about and just sitting down with them and paying attention to them and only them for forty minutes."

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Des Moines resident Gurwinder Singh Kapur moved to the United States in 1987 to study at the University of Kansas. Gurwinder had originally planned to return home to Singapore after finishing his degree, but he fell in love with America and decided to stay.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Madsen and Nancy Muhs are sisters, but they call themselves best friends. Together they faced the deaths of three of their six brothers due to Hunter Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that only affects boys. The life expectancy of those with Hunter Syndrome is about 10 to 15 years.

Mary and Nancy stopped by the StoryCorps booth in Des Moines recently to share remembrances of their brothers, and to talk about how they dealt with the knowledge that they could have passed Hunter Syndrome on to their own children.

Gage Skidmore

“Never ever lose your sense of outrage," said then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with the senator about the 2016 campaign, his plan to introduce a single-payer health care bill in September, and his new book, Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution

Sanders will speak in Iowa City August 31 at 7 p.m. at Hancher Auditorium.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Nearly half of Republicans and those who lean Republican say they have mixed feelings about how Donald Trump conducts himself as president, and almost a fifth of the Republicans polled by Pew Research say they don’t approve of Trump’s conduct as commander-in-chief at all.

On this politics day edition of River to River, analysts Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa navigate us through the latest on the political landscape, including the politics of disaster response and North Korea’s missile launch over Japan.

Courtesy of Terry Dvorak

Leaders from various faith traditions across the state are getting into the spirit of solar power.

On this news buzz edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a conversation on the process and impact of a solar project in Norwalk, where more than 200 solar panels were installed St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, with Father John Ludwig and Red Lion Renewables CEO, Terry Dvorak. It’s a move to renewable energy that Father Ludwig says was inspired by Pope Francis's campaign combating climate change.

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Mary Campos is a longtime Des Moines community activist. She was the first Latina to serve on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and to be inducted in the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Mary came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk with her cousin, Dawn Martinez Oropeza, who spoke with Mary about her childhood and the incident that led to her longtime involvement in civic engagement and civil rights. 

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Reflections on Resiliency

Aug 25, 2017
Courtesy of StoryCorps

Joann Ray has lived a life of struggle. After growing up on a farm in Temple Hill, Iowa, she went on to face multiple marriages and divorces. She worked three jobs while raising eight children and found time to go back to school and earn a nursing degree.

Earlier this month she stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines with her son Steve Riley to talk about Steve’s childhood and Joann’s career path.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Brian Borland knew that his dad was a phenomenal basketball player as he was growing up. What he didn't know was that his mom, Carolyn Nicholson, was an Iowa high school basketball superstar. 

"I was at my parents condo in 2006, and I heard them talking about going back to Des Moines for the 50th anniversary of Maynard winning the state championship in 1956. And I was like 'what state championship?'" he explains. "She said, 'well me and your aunt Glenda played basketball and we won a state championship when we were younger. Do you want to come with me?'"

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