Rob Dillard

Correspondent

Rob Dillard is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2001 as host of Morning Edition and moved to reporting in 2007.  He has been on special assignment for IPR since early 2011 reporting the ongoing series “Being in Iowa.” It has taken him around the state shining light on small segments of the population, including Muslims, military veterans, Latinos and the physically disabled. The series has won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Northwest Broadcast News Association (NBNA).

Rob has extensive experience in radio, newspaper and media relations dating back more than 30 years. He has also taught news writing at Central College in Pella. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at the University of Iowa.

Rob’s favorite public radio program is Morning Edition.

Ways To Connect

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 The six members of the band known as Chaotic Inquisition are in rehearsal.

They are polishing an original tune for a studio recording session and a concert, which will conclude the two weeks of Girls Rock Des Moines. The camp aims to build confidence in young women ages ten-to-16, and to encourage more of them to pursue music. The founder and executive director of the camp, Rae Fehring, says she was struck by an observation she made while lingering in a store testing instruments.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Examples of public art are appearing across Iowa in parks, on street corners, and in the lobbies of office buildings. Sculptor Bounnak Thammavong has been commissioned to create a piece that will be seen by thousands of travelers passing through the Des Moines International Airport.

On a late spring afternoon, Thammavong melts aluminum using a welding torch in his garage-turned-studio behind his house in Swisher.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

It didn’t take the Iowa State University athletic department long to name a replacement for outgoing head basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

A week after Hoiberg officially left to take the helm of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, Murray State head coach Steve Prohm was introduced as the new leader of the Cyclones.

The 40-year-old Prohm has been coaching at the Kentucky school for nine years, the last four as head coach.

So he says a move to a new community will take an adjustment.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Twenty-one months of construction on a public space in downtown Des Moines is nearing completion.

Cowles Commons – once known as Nollen Plaza – has been undergoing a 12-million-dollar renovation since September of 2013.

Des Moines Performing Arts, which operates the Civic Center across the street from the Commons, has been leading the project.

Its president and C-E-O Jeff Chelesvig says there were some structural design elements that slowed reconstruction.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

 Two runners are nearing the finish line on a goal to complete a full, 26-point-two mile marathon in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

On the way to Corning in the southwest part of the state, 49-year-old Dennis Lee stops at a sandwich shop to load up for a long run into a strong head wind.

“I’ll have a foot-long sausage, egg and cheese on flat bread,” he orders

The temperature is unusually cold for early May, and there’s a threat of thunderstorms, so Lee knows he’ll need energy.

“Typically we burn about 35-hundred calories during the run,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Short poems, essays and pieces of fiction are going on display at 13 libraries across the state. It's a project designed to connect the public to literature from a collective of artists known as Grin City.

Donegal Racing

An Iowa-based thoroughbred partnership is setting a bit of horse racing history this weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Donegal Racing will have entries in all three of the track’s signature races, including the Kentucky Derby.

It’s only the second time in the 141-year history of Churchill Downs that one ownership group has qualified horses in the Kentucky Oaks, the Woodford Reserve and the Derby.

The 17 investors in Donegal will watch Keen Ice run the Derby. He’s the third horse owned by the group to reach the nation’s most prestigious race in six years.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

   Ceremonies were held across the state in recognition of Workers Memorial Day. April 28th is set aside each year to remember those who have died on the job. 

Thirty-nine Iowans lost their lives in the past year while at work. 

White crosses honored each of the dead. Bagpipes played and an honor guard fired a 21-gun salute. The president of the Iowa Federation of Labor – Ken Sagar – addressed family members of the workers.

“I do remember what it’s like to sit in one of those chairs," he recalls. "My wife’s brother passed a few years ago on the job.”

The Nepalese community living in Iowa is rallying to support people back home following a killer earthquake.  A fund drive for those hurt by the devastating trembler is underway.

A spokesman for the Iowa Nepalese Association estimates around 100 families from Nepal are living in the Des Moines area.

Bikram Shrestha of Waukee says the families have been in contact with close relatives back home and none were lost or killed.

He says the local Nepalese are raising money to help ease the suffering

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  The founder of the advocacy group NextGen Climate made stops in Iowa on Earth Day to ask presidential hopefuls for their support of clean energy initiatives. The wealthy environmentalist plans to spend more time in the state during the 2016 election cycle.

Tom Steyer, a California hedge fund manager, is promising to continue work he started during last year’s Congressional campaigns.

The effort aims to get politicians and voters to pay more attention to environmental issues.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

  Iowa Writers Workshop graduate Tim Bascom was 16 years old when his parents decided to return to Ethiopia where they had served a previous mission. It was 1977. The country was in turmoil, emperor Haile Selassie booted from power, a Marxist revolution in progress. Bascom says he needed to document the experience of living through this revolt to understand how it shaped his young life.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

More than 100 students at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines staged a walkout Wednesday afternoon to protest the school’s decision to deny a former substitute teacher full-time employment because he is openly gay.

School administrators sent a letter to parents this week saying they were not offering the teacher a contract “owing to a personal situation at odds with Church teaching.”

Dowling sophomore Grace Mumm helped organize the rally. She says the action will not lead to employment for Tyler McCubbin at Dowling. But she still thinks it delivers a message.

Jane Kettering, St. Ambrose University

    There is a Middle East Institute on the campus of St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

The immediate question that comes to mind is why a Catholic University in the middle of America has created an academic institute focused on the Arab world.

Photo Courtesy of Catie Parrish

Iowa State has become the first upset victim at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The third-seeded Cyclones were stunned by 14th seeded University of Alabama at Birmingham this afternoon 60-59.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

The 2015 Iowa Teacher of the Year is a middle school Spanish teacher from Ecuador, who is on a mission to introduce more multiculturalism into classrooms.

Woodward Academy

Iowa high school sports history is being made this week at the boys’ state basketball tournament in Des Moines. For the first time, a school for delinquent young men is competing.

University of Iowa Law School

The nation has spent the past month honoring black history. Part of that past includes the lingering disparities between blacks and whites in the U.S.

Rob Dillard

Dan and Diane Folkers gave up their middle-class lives to move to the remote mountains of Papua New Guinea more than two years ago.

Rob Dillard

Clemen Wilcox counts how long she’s lived in the Midwest by the number of winters, not years. This is her 13th.

Rob Dillard

Sarai Tillinghast is encouraging minority students to become teachers in Des Moines. She shares moments from her own meaningful career to convince them to join the ranks. Here's the story of the project known as Dream to Teach.

Rob Dillard

It’s time for Arabic class at Central Academy on the west edge of downtown Des Moines. Today’s lesson: naming the seasons of the year.

Rob Dillard

Two young Central Iowans have been helping to fund schools in Kenya since they were teenagers. Hopeful Africa started as an after-school club is now a serious nonprofit.

Rob Dillard

The cardio equipment and weight machines are in place for the opening of the new Des Moines YMCA on New Year’s Day. It’s being billed as the largest downtown YMCA in the country. 

Rob Dillard

An Ankeny couple is making two major gifts to support projects in their hometown. The money from Dennis and Susan Albaugh will be split between Des Moines Area Community College and the Ankeny School District.

Rob Dillard

A newly redesigned building sits on a heavily traveled stretch of road in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb.  GiGi's Playhouse is a lively spot where people with Down syndrome gain self-confidence.


Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti

Writer Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti injects her Cameroonian heritage into stories about people who share her same multicultural background.

Amy Mayer

The Iowa Board of Regents is freezing tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the third year in a row.

Regents President Bruce Rastetter says it’s the first time in state history resident tuition has remained the same over this long a period.

Rastetter deflects concerns the freeze will mean much higher tuition in the future.

“The critical component to avoid that is the universities becoming more efficient, which they are, and then legislative state support,” he says.

University of Northern Iowa

Two Waterloo-area residents are in the midst of producing a series of five documentaries that chronicle the history of the city. The filmmakers are focusing their camera on a few locations that are key to Waterloo’s past.

Iowa Department of Public Health

A doctor on loan to the Iowa Department of Public Health is back in the state after a stint in Sierra Leone. The native of Nepal was there to track the ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Rob Dillard

When the Iowa Department for the Blind threw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of White Cane Day, it called on a former client to provide entertainment. 

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