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

This week, Iowa Public Radio has been exploring Latino life in the state as part of the series, “Being in Iowa.” Today we learn about a celebration that is the major date on the social calendars for many young Latinas – especially those from Mexican heritage. It happens right around the time a girl turns 15. As Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports, families often spare no expense in honoring this coming-of-age event.

More and more Latino groceries and restaurants have opened in cities and towns across the state in recent years. As Rob Dillard reports, they are offering an array of new flavors to many Iowans.

Being in Iowa is funded in part by The Principal Financial Group Foundation.

Latino immigrants have wielded a huge influence over the media landscape in Iowa. Twenty years ago when they first began to arrive looking for work, almost all of the newspapers they saw and broadcast outlets they heard were delivered in English. But as Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard tells us, these days it's nearly impossible to scan a radio dial or walk by a newspaper stand without noticing some content in Spanish.

"Being in Iowa" starts with a series on "Being Latino in Iowa." Reporter Rob Dillard will bring us stories about how this growing minority group is transforming some aspects of life here. Latinos now make up five percent of Iowa's overall population, numbering more than 152,000. That's a nearly 84% increase since 2000. Many of these newcomers are settling in rural areas of the state. Rob starts his series by looking at how that's altering the character of small-town Iowa.

Soldier in Iraq

Dec 19, 2010

Hundreds of Iowa National Guard and Reserve soldiers are spending the holidays far from home in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of them is Major Laurel Williamson of Des Moines. she's been on her first overseas deployment in Iraq since April and will return to Iowa in April 2011. We talked to her by phone from Balad Airbase north of Baghdad.

Women Wrestlers

Oct 19, 2010

A small school in northern Iowa is launching an athletic experiment. Waldorf College is the first college in the state to begin a women’s wrestling program. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard went to Forest City to meet a couple of the grapplers.

Retention Vote

Oct 7, 2010

A full-fledged campaign is underway to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court Justices because of their ruling clearing the way for same sex marriage. Iowa hasn't seen such a campaign since it adopted a merit system instead of a political system for appointing and retaining judges almost fifty years ago. But some voters are angry at the courts, and these unusual campaigns are also underway in other states.

Fighting Saints

Sep 30, 2010

In Iowa's oldest city, a gleaming new ice arena is the talk of the town. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard traveled to Dubuque recently to tour a facility that helped attract a United States Hockey League franchise back to the banks of the Mississippi after a near ten-year absence.

Not Alone

Sep 16, 2010

An unusual piece of dinner theater is being staged in Ames. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports about a group that's telling the real-life stories of some townspeople who are down on their luck.

Al Bell

Sep 7, 2010

If you grew up in small town Iowa during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, you probably met Al Bell. He was the charismatic world traveler who delighted thousands of school kids with his adventures to such far flung places as the Peruvian jungle and the Egyptian desert. Now, as Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard tells us, he's being remembered this weekend at a film festival that bears his name.

Cristo Rei school

Aug 26, 2010

The latest concept in the ongoing struggle by educators in the state to stem the tide of high school dropouts is coming from the Des Moines Catholic Diocese. School officials there are looking into opening what's known as a Cristo Rei school. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard tells us it would blend a rigorous academic program with a professional workplace experience.

Theater Camp

Aug 19, 2010

In the waning days before the start of school, most summer camps have shut down. Not in Des Moines, where an unusual camp for kids is still in session. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard took a day off this week to attend theater camp.

If you love to laugh

Aug 11, 2010

If you love to laugh, this weekend might be a good time to be in Des Moines. The first-ever Jestfest will occupy four venues over three days. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports festival organizers hope it will shine a spotlight on Central Iowa's burgeoning comedy scene.

Anti-Judges

Aug 5, 2010

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Iowa are mounting campaigns against three Supreme Court judges who ruled in 2009 the state's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports their action is drawing quick response from court watchers who think politics should stay out of the judiciary

Green House

Jul 28, 2010

The movement toward more energy-efficient and sustainable buildings has changed the way architects approach commercial projects for several years. But this revolution has been slow to take hold in residential construction. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard traveled to Fairfield recently to tour the state's greenest house.

Emus

Jul 14, 2010

The annual convention for emu (ee-mew) ranchers is in Des Moines this weekend. Many people started raising these big birds from Australia as an alternative source of revenue when times turned tough on the farm in the 1980s and 90s. There are far fewer in the business today. But Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports those who persevered say the sales of emu meat and emu oil are about to take off.

Bil Baird

Jun 20, 2010

There was a time when puppets and marionettes played featured roles in American pop culture not just for children, but for adults too. They starred in plays, operas, movies, TV commercials, even news programs. If you doubt this, Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard invites you to tour a museum in Mason City to see the proof.

Harvest of Grief

Jun 11, 2010

A documentary film about the high rate of suicides among farmers in northern India will have a single screening Sunday night in Des Moines. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports the movie may bring back memories of the 1980s Midwest farm crisis.

Girls Track Stars

May 16, 2010

Arguably the finest season in Iowa high school girls' track and field history is winding down. This year's athletes have not only set state records in running and jumping events; they've recorded some of the top marks in the nation. Iowa Public Radio's Rob Dillard reports these high achievers have little in common, beyond their athletic success.

Lyon County Casino

May 12, 2010

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is granting just one new casino license. Commissioners say only Lyon County in the northwest corner of the state can move ahead with its project. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports the commissioners say they’re worried casinos in Ottumwa, Fort Dodge and Tama County would pull business away from existing casinos.

Ag Competition

Apr 11, 2010

The Obama administration is conducting an unprecedented series of public forums to explore competition in the agriculture industry. For the first time, the departments of justice and agriculture are working together to look into antitrust questions raised by the mergers of seed companies, meatpacking plants and corporate farms. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports government officials worry farmers are paying the price for consolidation.

Ryne Sandberg

Apr 7, 2010

The opening of the baseball season in Des Moines is extra special this spring. One of the game’s all-time greats is stepping in as manager of the Iowa Cubs. Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports on a Hall-of-Fame second baseman who at the age of 50 is once again working his way through the minor leagues.

An Iowa adventurer is attempting one of the toughest human endeavors ever conceived. Des Moines lawyer Charlie Wittmack is calling his 11-month-long quest the world triathlon, as Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard reports.

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