Talk of Iowa

Weekdays at 10 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 9 p.m. on IPR News

Talk of Iowa brings a mix of regular guests and a range of experts to the microphone to discuss what’s happening in Iowa and what makes this a special place to live. Guests include wildlife expert Jim Pease and the Hort Gang on Fridays.

Talk of Iowa is hosted by Charity Nebbe @CharityNebbe.  It’s produced by Dennis Reese, Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Clare Roth @ClareAliceRoth.  Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins.  Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Using an u

nusual spelling of a word or a fancy French saying may seem like an easy way to sound elegant, but in reality the roots of the words or sayings are not what you think they are. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with English language expert Patricia O’Conner about pretentious spellings and pronunciations. O'Conner is the author of Woe is I and writes on grammar blog, Grammarphobia

Jennifer Loeb

We use the metaphors “climbing a mountain” and “reaching the highest peak” as a way to describe the biggest challenges in our lives.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowans who have summited the highest peaks in the world, pushing themselves to the limit, stepping out of their comfort zone, and in Jesup native Jennifer Loeb's case, finding a greater sense of purpose.

Ted Polumbaum

Before the age of selfies and digital point-and-shoot cameras, photographers carried light meters strapped to their belts and spent hours processing negatives into prints.  Judy Polumbaum remembers those days. 

"Most of my friends had fathers who were engineers, and they would go to work in the morning and come home at night and put up their feet and watch tv," Polumbaum remembers.

ForestWander / Wikimedia Commons

Little bluestems, black-eye susans and purple coneflowers used to cover Iowa’s landscape, and now they are making a comeback, not just as plants that thrive as a part of a reconstructed prairie but as garden ornamentals.

Judy Nauseef, a landscape designer and author of the new guidebook Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest: Bringing Tallgrass Prairie Home, says native plants are becoming more popular in landscaping.

As the summer settles in, the bugs come out, and that includes ants. Iowa State University Extension entomologist Donald Lewis says there are more than 700 species living in Iowa. 

"If you combined all the ants of the world they would weigh about as much as the combined weight of all the humans," Lewis said. 

There are approximately 8,800 different known species that cover the terrestrial surface of the earth, Lewis says, but you need not worry that 8,800 different kinds of ants live in your backyard, as the majority of species live in limited areas of the tropics.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

On starry summer nights in rural Maquoketa in Northeastern Iowa, you can hear the sounds of bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Norah Jones and Conor Oberst wafting from inside an old implement barn built in the 1950s. The barn sits next to an original farmstead house turned art gallery that has been in Tiffany Biehl’s family for more than 150 years.

Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex / Wikimedia Commons

'Finding Dory,’ the sequel to the very popular ‘Finding Nemo,’ hits theaters this weekend. Lots of fans of the first movie are excited. For some scientists, it’s a different story entirely.

Dory is a pacific blue tang fish, and just like sales of clownfish skyrocketed after the first movie, pet stores are anticipating demand for the pacific blue tang. That demand, however, could have serious consequences for a fish that can’t be breed in captivity.

Lucina M / Flickr

It is easy to dismiss crows as a loud annoying neighbor, but they are deceptively smart. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa  host Charity Nebbe talks to about Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease about Crows and other birds in the Corvid family. 

Besides crows, the Corvid family includes blue jays, ravens, and magpies. Corvids are a common birds, they are on every continent except Antarctica. 

Cthulhu Steev / Flickr

Most obituaries are short biographies, meant to inform others of a loss. Sometimes they express sadness, or celebrate accomplishments. Ideally, they capture the essence of the person they're about.

"Wherever Cynthia was, she was probably the smartest person in the room. She could curse like a sailor-though she almost never did - yet she had exquisite and sophisticated tastes." That’s a line from Jennifer Miller's beautiful, smart, funny remembrance of her mother.

Kamil Porembinski / Flickr

As summer approaches many people are out in their lawn, mowing, watering and pulling weeds. 

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with  Iowa State University Extension turfgrass specialist Adam Thoms about lawn care. 

When it comes to mowing, Thomas recommends keeping your grass around three and three and a half inches tall, and not removing more than a third of the leaf tissue. This means mowing the lawn regularly. 

Minnesota Historical Society Press

The "Big Marsh" was a source of bounty for wildlife, native people and settlers.  When it was drained it offered up fertile soil, but what was lost?  This hour, we talk to Cheri Register, author of the new book, "The Big Marsh; the Story of a Lost Landscape" (Minnesota Historical Society Press).

Sioux Falls Argus-Leader

Paula Poundstone loves Iowa--she must, she's performing here again!  On this segment of Talk of Iowa, Charity speaks to the venerated comedian, who is returning to Iowa City for a show at the Englert Theatre on June 10. 

Maria Rose Belding and Grant Nelson were recently honored by President Obama for their work developing and implementing a database to connect hungry people with extra food. They’re calling the program the MEANS database, which is a website that allows grocery stores, restaurants and businesses to easily donate excess food, so that more goes to hungry people and less gets thrown in the dumpster. 

Belding says the idea for the database came from her work at a food pantry in Pella, Iowa.

Carl Wycoff

Iowa is becoming more diverse with time. While 77 percent of Iowans identify as Christian, nearly a quarter do not.

On this edition of Talk 0f Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on religious diversity in Iowa.

She talks with Maeve Callan, associate professor of religion at Simpson College, who gives talks on religious culture in order to humanize religious diversity and to help stop the stigmatization of minority religious groups in the state.

On Thanksgiving night in 1858, two women left their Nebraska City home, and, with the help from abolitionists, Celia and Eliza traveled more than 500 miles to Chicago in search of freedom. 

Arlington Nebraska High School History Teacher Barry Jurgensen learned about them when he read the book Necessary Courage by Lowell Soike in 2013, and now he has set out on foot to recreate the Journey that Celia and Eliza took. He’s walking 527 miles across Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois with three of his students in an attempt to raise awareness about modern day slavery.

Jocelyn Kinghorn / Flickr

Vines can help spice up many gardens, but it is important to pick one that is going to thrive in its new environment.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, it’s Horticulture Day! Host Charity Nebbe talks with Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of the Reiman Gardens, about vines. They discuss how to care for different vines and which conditions help ensure vines flourish.

HomeSpot HQ / Flickr

There are many possible problems with indoor air quality, and the beginning of summer is a great time to tackle them.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about indoor air quality and how to identify and fix problems, along with other benefits to improving air quality.

Iowa Public Television

Dan Wardell always wanted to host his own kids TV show, and now his dream is coming true. Iowa Public Television will air its new show, Kids Clubhouse, hosted by Wardell and co-host Abby Brown, for the first time this Friday at 7 a.m. as the start of a ten week series.  

On this episode of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Wardell and Brown, along with the show’s Senior Producer and Director Deb Herbold about their new show.   It's a rarity indeed that any local or regional station or network is starting a new children's program in this day and age.

Beacon Press

We all may know the name Nancy Drew but females in detective work go much further than that. From Kinsey Milhone and Vi Warhawski to Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher, female detectives in fiction go back 175 years.  

On this episode of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with historian and Wisconsin Public Radio Executive Producer Erika Janik author of Pistols and Petticoats, 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction (Beacon Press) about women in detective work.

Liz West / Flickr

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and peonies are starting to bloom across the state.

Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, says you shouldn’t be worried if your peonies haven’t opened yet. If your peonies haven’t started blooming by the first week of June, she says you should double check that your plants are in the right conditions, with shallow soil and lots of sun.

Old feed mills no longer in operation often sit vacant, but that’s not so for one old mill in Ames. A group of artists and entrepreneurs are planning to transform a building that formerly served as a Doboy feed mill and warehouse into an art gallery, workshop space and coffee shop.

“The person who previously owned it had an auto shop in the warehouse,” explains co-founder Lyndsay Nissen. “When it went on the market, we had to jump on it.”

MellieRene4 / Flickr

When a child loves a book, they can love it with an intensity that few adults can match, and the books children connect with often stay with them their entire life.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on some of the best of modern children’s literature and how it’s influencing young people. She talks with Ernie Cox, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee and school librarian in the College Community District south of Cedar Rapids.

Lindsey Moon

As the weather warms up and school lets out it is time to start making your summer reading list. This hour on Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Judy Stafford of The Book People in Sioux City about what should be on your reading list this summer.

Paul’s list:

The Dig by John Preston

Till My Baby Comes Home by Jean Ross Justice

Canary by Duane Swierczynski

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Shelter by Jung Yun

ACE Foundation / Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa's Jazz Hall of Fame has a new inductee - Roger Maxwell. Maxwell is a talented trombone player, in addition to a teacher and composer. He's also a trailblazer and advocate for the African-American community in Iowa. 

During his childhood in Marshalltown, segregation was very real. He couldn't go to the pool, except for a two hour period on Sunday mornings, and blacks weren't allowed to stay in local hotels. 

"We just accepted the conditions. We knew where we could not go, and we just accepted that," he says. 

Day Donaldson / Flickr

The summer travel season is almost upon us, and this year travelers are thinking more about insects.

Fears about the Zika virus are heightened as the infested mosquitoes spread and more cases are reported in the U.S. Lewis says that currently all the cases in the U.S. came from people traveling, and that there is still no vaccine to help prevent the virus.

With the many pressures in our busy lives, it's often hard to keep track of our own responsibilities let along find the time to invest in long-term relationships.  This hour, we look at what it takes to keep a friendship going for a life-time.   Interpersonal communications expert Lori Johnson of the University of Northern Iowa tells us that "it's never too late to find a good friend."

Bill Eppridge / Time & Life Pictures

When most of us think about hippies we think about thousands of people defined by life-style, fashion, music and political choices. The original hippies may have been looking for a little peace, love and understanding, but their ideas sparked an economic revolution.

Kate Sumbler

Teenagers can be moody, disrespectful, and reckless, but they’re also engaged in the important work of growing up and becoming independent adults.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on the teen years, a time in life that can be hard on both parents and kids. She talks with a mom and two of her daughters, a counselor at an alternative high school, and an expert in human development and family studies.

David Hawgood / Wikimedia Commons

Heat, light, water and nitrogen… put them together and you get lakes and ponds that are choked with plant growth. The balance between discouraging aquatic unwanteds and encouraging the plant growth that supports aquatic life is a tricky one to manage.

Allen Patillo, aquaculture and fisheries extension specialist says preventing problems is easier than solving them, and that means nutrient management. He says protecting the watershed is the best first step by limiting the nitrogen leaving lawns and fields, and planting prairie or other species that will absorb the runoff.

MarKaus, Des Moines based artist

Des Moines based hip hop artist MarKaus (@MarKausMF), his record label, and the Des Moines Social Club are collaborating to produce a hip hop festival in Des Moines to highlight the Iowa hip hop scene.

After reading that, you might be thinking, “Iowa has a hip hop scene?” It does, and it’s growing.

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