Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 27 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award-winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa, where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station, KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board. Most recently, Pat was honored by receiving the Jack Shelley Award for Broadcast Excellence, in 2014.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

Ways to Connect

National Weather Service

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Zogg in Johnston describes the criteria for determining if weather events will be storms or if winter weather advisories are more appropriate. He gives advice about driving in the first snow and offers a look ahead to what travelers may expect for Thanksgiving.  

Mobile Health/flickr

The University of Northern Iowa is the latest of the state’s three public universities to report cases of the mumps.

Iowa Department of Public Health officials are warning students to take seriously the outbreak of mumps that’s been affecting the college communities since the beginning of the school year.

Pat Blank/IPR

Longtime Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews is calling it quits. He announced Thursday he’s decided to retire instead of facing a run-off election next month.

Crews is currently serving his 15th term, having held the office three separate times over the past 40 years. This week’s election showed him finishing second in a three-candidate field, about 700 votes behind Cedar Falls school board member Jim Brown.

Crews says Brown will still have to run, but now the focus will be different. 

Four North Iowa school districts are being recognized by the State of Iowa today for leading the way in providing students with innovative opportunities to partner with local businesses and gain skills that will help them land careers in high-demand fields.  The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is awarding $25,000 to Charles City, New Hampton, Osage and the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts.

Iowa DNR

Beautiful fall weather has extended park visits and camping opportunities around the state for many outdoor enthusiasts. However, increasingly dry conditions have prompted the State Fire Marshall to issue burn bans in nearly a quarter of the state.   The bans include many of the state parks.

Iowa Northern Railroad

State railroad officials are urging pedestrians, hunters, and others to resist the urge to take a shortcut along the tracks in an effort to save time. Assistant General Manager for the Iowa Northern Railroad, Mark Vaughn says walking on or near the tracks is illegal and it’s dangerous because it can take a mile or more for a train to stop.

Pat Blank/IPR

Once the weather turns cold, the first utility bill following the temperature dip usually prompts homeowners to look for ways to rein in costs. Most Iowa utility companies and rural electric cooperatives offer ways to save energy free of charge.  Some offer to bring in a home energy specialist like Jason Jefferson.

Pat Blank/IPR

Rand Paul has become the first presidential candidate to live stream an entire day on the campaign trail. 

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump filled an iconic Waterloo ballroom with more than 12 hundred supporters. The crowd at the Electric Park Ballroom repeatedly chanted "USA" and "Trump, Trump, Trump".  The GOP front runner got some of the loudest applause when he talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare".

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio is on a two-day swing through eastern Iowa. Thursday night in Cedar Falls he told a crowd of more than 300 that the federal government is failing in its obligation to keep Americans safe.

The junior Senator from Florida says there’s plenty of blame for what he calls the loss of prestige by the U.S. He says the recent air strikes by Russian planes in Syria are proof that the situation is out of control.

John Pemple/IPR file photo

Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley is among those sponsoring legislation aimed at recalibrating prison sentences for certain drug offenders.  Grassley appeared at a Washington news conference today with Senators from both parties.  He called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 a significant change in how the courts treat lower-level drug crimes.

Pat Blank/IPR

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is in Iowa today (Tuesday) unveiling a plan to scale back federal regulations. The former Governor of Florida told a crowd of 100 at a Waterloo diner that it’s time to shift the power back to the states. He says his idea would kick start economic growth. 

IPR's Pat Blank

As the fall harvest hits full speed, state public safety officials are asking motorists to check their speed as they approach over-sized farm equipment on the road.

Iowa Highway Patrol Sergeant Nate Ludwig says traditional cars and trucks are no match for the agricultural machinery, which often weighs several tons.

“This time of year you need to watch for those large trucks, tractors and implements," he says.  "It can be anything from a small tractor to a large 20 row bean head combine,” he said.

Iowa DNR

The 98-acre State Forest Nursery in Ames has been losing money since 2007 because of decreasing demand for seedlings. That made it a likely target for closing when the Iowa Department of Natural Resources was looking to trim the budget. District Forester Mark Vitosh says however, the nursery is open and is filling orders for this fall and next spring.

Pat Blank/IPR

When the second GOP presidential candidate debate is broadcast on Wednesday night, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton says she’ll be watching.

At the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls Monday afternoon she told an audience of about 500 that when she saw the first debate on Fox News, she found it entertaining.  She says there’s not much difference between the 16 Republican candidates.

Drug Drop-Off

Sep 1, 2015

The Cedar Falls Police Department is now taking back unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs at a collection box in the lobby at the City Hall. Police Captain Craig Berte says the bright white re-purposed post office mailbox is available 24-7. He says “it’s totally anonymous, the only reason we’re checking it is we’re dumping it when it gets full.”

Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Rail car traffic has increased dramatically across the state with the transport of grain, ethanol, and tractor parts and in the future, perhaps hazardous pipeline materials.  Much of the time the journey is made without incident, but if there’s trouble, those who respond want to be prepared. With more trains covering greater amounts of track, those in charge of safety want to be sure they’re ready in case of an emergency.  This past February, an 81-car Canadian Pacific train went off the tracks near Dubuque and caught fire.

IPR's Pat Blank

Lime Springs Beef, a new 15- thousand square foot meat processing plant near the Minnesota border will open soon. Spokesperson Kyle Wooters says what they need now are employees.  He says they’ll hold two job fairs this week.

“We’re looking for all people in the plant, production workers," Wooters says.  "We’re looking to hire about 40 or 50 of those and shipping and grading and office support staff."

Doin' Shots!

Aug 19, 2015
University of Oregon

When you invite college age students to do shots, you’re likely to get their attention. Iowa Health Department officials are making that suggestion, but of course they mean vaccinations not alcohol. State Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says probably the most important immunization to get is the one that protects against meningitis which can cause death.

IPR's Pat Blank

 It’s been nearly a year since more than 13 hundred Deere and Company workers in Waterloo and Ankeny got the news they were being laid off because of a decline in farm equipment sales.  60 have been called back but many others are still searching for employment.  Tuesday a new Dislocated Worker Transition Center was opened to help get them back on their feet. The center is located on the main campus of Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo and represents a unique collaboration between the college, Deere’s Union Local 838 and Iowa Workforce Development.

Packed House For Fiorina

Aug 14, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

A crowd of more than 200 squeezed into the Mason City Public Library Friday morning to see Republican Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.

IPR's Pat Blank

We continue to bring you one on one interviews with the 2016 presidential candidates. IPR’s Pat Blank sat down with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal following his appearance at the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Dinner in Waterloo on Sunday, August 9th.

Here is their conversation

It is a crowded field of GOP candidates, how are you distinguishing yourself from the rest?

Celebrating ADA

Jul 17, 2015
Americans with Disabilities

Twenty-five years ago, through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our nation committed itself to eliminating discrimination against people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA, working towards a future in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities. In honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, the U.S.

Nice Ice

Jul 16, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

Cedar Rapids is in the national spotlight for the next four days as the city hosts the USA Curling Arena National Championships.  Curling is a game played on ice in which large, round, colored stones are slid across the surface toward a mark known as a button.  Think shuffle board, but with a lot more action as team members sweep the path of the stone to control its speed and direction.   The surface is always an important factor, but this level of competition demands an ice expert.  Enter Kevin Madsen of New London, Minnesota who’s part of an elite crew.

Courtesy photo

When you think about packing for summer camp some obvious items come to mind; sleeping bags, maybe a flashlight, or swimsuits. But a nature center in Northwest Iowa  is looking to add another item to the list, your grandparents.

It’s often difficult for kids and grandparents to coordinate their schedules to allow quality time together, but The Dickinson County Conservation Board in Okoboji is looking to make it easier and more fun than ever. Grandpa, Grandma & Me! is a new kind of day camp focused on bringing kids and their grandparents together for a unique camp experience.

No Pain Propane

Jul 7, 2015
Courtesy photo

  ***  Please note the original  post had two thousand homes, the number is roughly 15  percent of Iowa homes or just over 183 thousand**

Good news for those who use liquid propane; from backyard grillers to farmers and to homeowners. Prices are at an all-time low.

Iowa Agriculture Department Energy Analyst Harold Hommes says those who grill will probably not notice, “when we get into those small cylinders at retail generally with the price of the exchange and that process we don’t see that fluctuate too much.”

Think Before You Drink

Jul 3, 2015
Courtesy photo

The Fourth of July is one of Iowa’s most popular holidays for boating, but historically it’s been one of the most dangerous. State Department of Natural Resources boating safety expert, Susan Stocker says many accidents and injuries can be prevented with good planning. She says Iowa law requires that the water craft have onboard; one life jacket per person as well as other equipment.

Iowa DNR

Trumpeter swans were abundant throughout Iowa in the 1800s, but pioneers commonly shot swans from the sky in fear of potential crop damage and they were harvested to near extinction by hunters. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician Dave Hoffman says thanks to the help of volunteers, these majestic white birds were able to be reintroduced to the state in 1995 and continue making their comeback with more than 45 nesting pairs spotted last year.

Operation Dry Water

Jun 25, 2015
U.S Coast Guard

Operation Dry Water is set to begin tomorrow as state, federal, and local law enforcement continue to focus on the state’s boating while intoxicated laws and draw public attention to the hazards of boating under the influence.

Jindal Visits Iowa

Jun 15, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

Louisiana Governor Republican Bobby Jindal was in Iowa Monday to take part in a forum on national security. The event was broadcast live from Mudd Advertising Studios in Cedar Falls and sponsored by the group Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.  Jindal has been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Jindal is expected to announce next week if he will join a crowded field of GOP candidates.