River to River

Weekdays at 12 p.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 10 p.m. on IPR News

River to River is Iowa Public Radio's talk program focusing on the news, issues and events in our state. This national award-winning program goes beyond the headlines, frames community problems, and fosters conversation. On Mondays during the legislative session, join in conversations with lawmakers and those impacted by action at the Statehouse.  Wednesdays, political analysts from around the state help you dissect the week in politics.  Fridays we buzz through the week’s big news stories.

River to River is hosted by Ben Kieffer.  It’s produced by Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodburyLindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Ben Stanton @StantonRadio. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Last weekend, an Iowa teenager from Waverly died from injuries sustained during a fireworks accident. He is believed to be the first person killed by consumer explosives in the state since the Iowa Legislature legalized them last year.

In this news buzz edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Dr. Chris Buresh, Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa, about this incident and the increase in firework-related injuries this year.

Getty Images

Over the next few months, the Supreme Court battle between conservative and liberal interest groups over nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars and leave a lasting impact on the nation's political landscape.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Steffen Schmidt, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College, for their analysis of this contentious fight for the Supreme Court.

Emily Woodbury

Gallup polling shows that public trust in media outlets has dropped in recent years.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about possible reasons for the shift in public trust with NPR ombudsman and public editor Elizabeth Jensen. In her role, Jensen serves as a liaison between NPR’s newsroom and its listeners.

Iowa Public Radio news director Michael Leland and executive director Myrna Johnson also join the conversation.

Kurt Bauschardt

Recent calls for civility in political and public discourse in the wake of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being kicked out of a Washington D.C. restaurant have people questioning what civil conversations look like and whether we are indeed living in a post-civil society.

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks about the breakdown of civility with former Congressmen from Iowa, Jim Lightfoot and Dave Nagle, as well as former Iowa Senate President Mary Kramer, and Iowa Public Radio correspondent Dean Borg.

Torrential rain caused widespread chaos across the Des Moines area last Saturday. Des Moines got hit the hardest, but there was also severe flood damage in Ankeny, Saylorville, Urbandale, Maxwell, Johnston, and Windsor Heights when nearly 9 inches of rain fell over a three-hour period.

The Des Moines Register reports that more than 1500 hundred properties were affected, and authorities expect that number to increase with time. 

Cliff Jette/The Gazette

This week, the Trump administration reversed seven Obama-era policies on affirmative action that called on universities to consider race as a factor in diversifying their campuses. The Trump administration will now encourage school superintendents and college presidents to adopt race-blind admissions standards.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen about how this may impact admissions at Iowa State, the rise in faculty resignations, and college affordability.

Corey Torpie

Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset a 10-term establishment Democrat in New York last week. While her district doesn’t necessarily mirror that of Iowa’s districts, a 2016 Des Moines Register/Bloomberg News Iowa Poll found that 43 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers consider themselves socialists.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer explores what Democratic Socialism means today and why it has an appeal at this particular time in U.S. history.

Lorie Shaull

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court this summer has put into question the future of abortion rights in the United States.

Library of Congress

Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Nick Dybek’s latest book tells a mysterious story set in the aftermath of one of World War I’s most horrific encounters, the Battle of Verdun.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Dybek about his new book, The Verdun Affair: A Novel, about the battle and its aftermath.

Ben Kieffer co-hosts this "Pints and Politics" edition of River to River with Gazette investigative reporter Erin Jordan. They ask panelists to discuss the latest in national and state politics, including how the election match ups look in Iowa’s Congressional races.

Panelists joining the discussion include Gazette columnists Todd Dorman, Lynda Waddington, Adam Sullivan, Gazette reporter James Lynch, and special guest, Dianne Bystrom, who has served as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University since 1996.

Wikimedia Commons

 

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Liliana Moreno

Days after her son Sergei died by suicide, Mary Neubauer and her husband Larry Loss, decided to publicly share their story.

“It was just heartbreaking for Larry and me, as his parents, to watch this vivacious funny loving outgoing kid just disintegrate in front of our eyes,” says Neubauer, “and no matter how much we helped, or how much we loved him, we just couldn’t stop it from happening.”

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Neubauer about her family’s struggle to get Sergei the mental health care he needed.

Barbetorte / Wikimedia Commons

Don't call it weed. It's industrial hemp, and it may be making a comeback in Iowa.

The 2014 Farm Bill provided provisions for states to legalize the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes. During the 2018 legislative session, the issue was up for debate at the Iowa Statehouse, and a bill to create a pilot program passed in the Iowa Senate. 

Jacob Riis

What does it mean to be “an American?” How has that identity changed over the decades?

 

This hour, host Ben Kieffer talks with presidential historian Tim Walch and Rene Rocha, director of the Latino Studies department at the University of Iowa, about the history of immigration policy in the U.S.

 

“[Throughout history,] there are periods of tension against every group that have arrived that are different from the model or the norm, which is White Anglo-Saxon males from Great Britain,” says Walch.

 

Charles Edward Miller / Wikimeda/Flickr - Creative Commons

In this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Chris Larimer, associate professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa and Donna Hoffman, associate professor and chair of political science at UNI about the public outcry over children being separated from their migrant parents at the U.S. border and the state party conventions for Democrats and Republicans over the weekend.

John Pemble/IPR

State representative Chip Baltimore says it's time to let someone else "take up the flag" at the Iowa legislature. The Boone Republican and former chair of the House Judiciary Committee is not seeking a fifth term.

He was convicted in January on charges of first-offense OWI and possession of a dangerous weapon while under the influence, but he claims he made the decision not to run long before he was charged with those offenses.

MadMaxMarchHare / Wikimedia Commons

At a time of rising tuitions and tight budgets at the state’s Regents universities, the president of the University of Northern Iowa is expressing some relief.

Mark Nook has been on the job in Cedar Falls about a year. Tuition at his school is climbing two-point-eight percent, a little more than $200. That's less than the three-point-eight percent increases at Iowa State and the University of Iowa. Nook says he understands why higher education is often on the chopping block during state budget considerations.

Congress.Gov

During this River to River interview, host Ben Kieffer talks with Representative Dave Loebsack about the issues facing his constituents in Iowa's 2nd district, including flood risk, healthcare, employment, and trade tariffs. Later in the hour, Loebsack answers listener questions.

One issue that remains close to Loebsack's heart is the Cedar Rapids flood, which was 10 years ago on June 13th.

Twenty three years ago, Mason City TV news anchor Jodi Huisentruit disappeared. She would be 50 years old this month. To commemorate the anniversary, the group FindJodi.com has put up billboards outside Mason City. 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Beth Bednar, author of the book Dead Air and a member of the Find Jodi team, about Huisentruit's disapperance. 

AP

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University, and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield professor of political science at Grinnell College. They discuss the G7 Summit blowup, the showdown over immigration in Congress, and President Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. 

Francisco Osorio / Flickr

A new Iowa law banning physicians from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected is being called the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer discusses the law with three state lawmakers who each have very different views, including a Democrat against the change, a Republican who voted for it, and a Republican who was one of six in his party who felt he couldn’t support the law.

Casey Reyner

Audiophiles and live music enthusiasts of Iowa, UNITE! This is your season. Summertime is for craft beer, silly love songs, and dancing around barefoot at concerts. Am I right?!

You have been hearing our Studio One hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner talk about which songs they're listening to on River to River lately. We also want to direct you to awesome live music happening this month around the state. Behold: The June Music Listical! 

Friday, June 8 --- Real Estate at Codfish Hollow

John Pemble / IPR

After a tense weekend of economic negotiations with the United States' closest allies at the Group of 7 Summit, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley is warning that President Donald Trump's tactics are threatening the state's farmers. At a tumultuous time in international trade relations, Grassley joined IPR's River to River to talk tariffs, North Korea and the Justice Department with host Ben Kieffer.

Ivy Main / Wikimedia Commons

Nine counties in southwest Iowa have been experiencing a drinking water crisis over the past 10 days after a filtration membrane malfunctioned at Creston Water Works. A boil warning was issued June 1st for the city and all the surrounding towns the water works supplied water for. 

During this River to River conversation, host Ben Kieffer talks with Scott Vicker, managing editor for the Creston News Advertiser and Chris Gordy, store director for the Creston Hy-Vee. 

This week the Miss America Organization announced it would no longer include the swimsuit portion of the competition in the pageant. That decision marks the end of an era, given that Miss America orignally started as a swimsuit competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1921. 

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Nicole Kelly, who was Miss Iowa 2013 and is a current producer of the Miss Iowa competition. When she was crowned Miss Iowa, it was international news becuase she entered the pageant with a visible disability. 

Iowa Legislature

Back in 2016, when it was clear the Republican Party was warming up to the idea of having Donald Trump as its Presidential nominee, one state Senator from Iowa quit the Republican Party. Now, he's announced that he will not be seeking reelection as an Independent in the Iowa Senate.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan about this decision and how politics have changed in his nearly 20 years as a lawmaker in Iowa.

In recent years, Johnson says he has seen a definite political shift.

JOE SHEARER/WORLD-HERALD NEWS SERVICE

 

The use of consumer fireworks was legalized in Iowa last year, sparking complaints from both citizens and local law enforcement. This year, many cities have set their own rules for firework use, with some prohibiting them completely.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to Jeremiah Terhark, owner of Iowa Fireworks Company; Pat Treeloar, Fire Chief for the city of Waterloo; and Tom Daubs, Public Information Officer for the Marion Police Department, about the upcoming July 4th holiday and the patchwork of fireworks laws across Iowa.

 

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa Democrats have nominated businessman Fred Hubbell to take on Gov. Kim Reynolds in the November gubernatorial election. Jake Porter will be the Libertarian candidate for governor.

Congressional matchups are set with two women earning Democratic spots on the ballot. Abby Finkenauer, the Democrat nominated in the first congressional district, would be the youngest woman elected to Congress if she is successful in her bit to oust incumbent Republican Congressman Rod Blum. No woman has ever been elected to Congress from Iowa. 

UIHC

The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa has been approved to use a new therapy that harnesses the immune system to treat specific forms of leukemia and lymphoma. Dr. George Weiner is director of the center and says the therapy shows great promise.

Clay Masters/Iowa Public Radio

A new study from University of Iowa researchers shows the nitrate flowing from Iowa farm fields is a large part of the total load in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. 

During this episode of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with one of the authors of the study, research engineer Chris Jones, about the devastating impact nutrients from Iowa farmland is having downstream.

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