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 Ben Stanton @StantonRadio. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Image courtesy of magdus

During the dry periods of summer, many gardeners across the state are unsure how to keep their gardens full of life during the lack of rainfall. Luckily, there are multiple flowers that can still thrive without much water, as Iowa Master Gardener Coordinator Denny Schrock explains.

Photo courtesy of Black Valley Films

The Iowa State Fair is known worldwide as a showcase for all things food-related. This year, that includes a new documentary about a controversial topic: genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Food Evolution was commissioned by the non-profit, International Food Technologists and it seeks to "follow the science" to get the truth about GMOs. The science led the filmmakers to produce something that comes down squarely in favor of what they say is a technique that's misunderstood and often vilified.

W.W. Norton & Co.

This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks live with two Iowa writers, Inara Verzemnieks and Elizabeth Dinschel.

FaceMePLS / Flickr

There's been some new and alarming research about the increasing number of suicides and cases of depression among teens. Are cell phones and social media contributing to the problem? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Jean Twenge, who is author of the forthcoming book IGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. 

What's in a Name?

Aug 14, 2017
Image courtesy of Eviatar Bach

Baby names tend to peak in popularity, and then decline over the following years. According to the Social Security Administration, none of the top ten male or female baby names in Iowa from 1960 showed up in the top ten in 2016. Names like David, Mary, Michael, and Lori have been slowly replaced by Oliver, Emma, Owen, and Olivia. Patricia O’Conner, language expert and author, discusses the decline in popularity in the once ever-present names "John" and "Mary."

Image courtesy of Boomsbeat

The Iowa State Fair is the state's signature annual event, attracting over one million visitors in each of the last two years, according to its website. Some of the fair's most notable events are the vegetable, fruit, and flower competitions; the winners of which receive the coveted blue ribbon. Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron, who judges the competitions, explains what he and the other judges look for when it comes to blue ribbon quality fruits and vegetables.

Kate Ter Haar

Is your sidewalk a hazard? Has your driveway seen better days? Cracks in concrete happen over time, and they're sometimes difficult to troubleshoot, especially if the problem is due to a tree root or uneven ground. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with home improvement expert Bill McAnally about concrete, asphalt and other paving solutions for your driveway, sidewalk, patio or paving project. 

Sandy Dyas Photography

Susan Becker was having a tough time.  Her mother had recently died.  She started feeling like she had made wrong decisions. She wasn't motivated.  She decided there needed to be a change.

She got a job as a lunch lady in Bellevue in northeast Iowa, and she was managing a staff that was many years older than her.  It was challenging, and ultimately it was enjoyable, meaningful, and sparked a renewed outlook on her life.  

"These ladies, what they considered their job...it was service with love."

Yolanda

The decline of Monarch butterfly populations over the past two decades has received much attention from scientists. However, recent surveys of the Monarch population in the Midwest have not been showing dramatic decreases.

Monarch populations are thought to be tied to the disappearance of milkweed, the only plant on which Monarchs lay eggs. Iowa State University assistant professor in ecology, John Pleasants says Monarch populations in the Midwest may appear stable because counts are taken in open areas where butterflies can find milkweed.

Steve Gibbons

December of this year marks the 60th anniversary of the premiere of The Music Man on Broadway; it was written and composed by Mason City native Meredith Willson.  In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what the musical says about Iowa and why the music and story have remained popular.

First, we visit the Des Moines Community Playhouse, which has one last weekend of performances of their production of The Music Man.  We hear from actors Brad Church and Katy Merriman who play Harold Hill and Marian Peroo.  

University of Iowa Press

Bix Beiderbecke was a self-taught cornet player from Davenport, a white kid from the corn belt born in 1903.  He only lived to be 28 years old, but against all odds his musical influence has lasted for generations.  This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks to author Brendan Wolfe, who grew up in Beiderbecke's hometown.  Wolfe's new book is called "Finding Bix: The Live and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend." (University of Iowa Press)

photo submitted

In 2004, Mandy Martinson was addicted to methamphetamine. She helped her drug dealer boyfriend as a way to feed her habit, but when her home was raided and drugs were found she received a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison. She received clemency last year and is now home rebuilding her life. During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Martinson about her long road to freedom and recovery.

Photo couresty of Kittie Weston-Knauer

Kittie Weston-Knauer is not your typical retiree. At the age of 67, she's the oldest female BMX athlete in the country.

She started racing after her son got into BMX. When given the choice to sit around and do nothing or compete, she says she will always choose to race and will continue with the sport for as long as she can. 

"I have always been competitive," she laughs. "Look, I grew up with five brothers."

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Cooper

Iowan Sarah Cooper recently finished one of the most grueling bike races in the country, Race Across America, placing 10th overall. She was the first woman to cross the finish line. If riding her bike 3,000 miles across the country wasn't hard enough, she did the second half of the race battling a condition called Shermer's Neck, which left her unable to hold her head up. 

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
Chiot's Run

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to check for ripeness, but other garden fare can be tough, especially with underground vegetables.  

For new potatoes, Steil says that you need to wait until the tops dieback.

Growing old brings challenges. Some of them are harder than others. 

"The hardest thing I had to adjust to was having my teeth in a glass of water next to my bed at night," laughs Evelyn Birkby, who is a nearly 98 and lives in her home in Sidney, Iowa. 

Birkby and her late husband Robert planned to age in their home, and they have done just that. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about their preparations, like building their home with a minimal number of stairs to make for easier access in older age. 

Liz Lawley / Flickr

Getting your baby or toddler to sleep can be one of the biggest challenges of parenting and for many parents, co-sleeping is the answer. The dangers of co-sleeping, however, have been well documented by the medical community. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with author and associate professor of sociology at Iowa State University Susan Stewart who has recently published a new book Co-sleeping: Parents, Children and Musical Beds. 

Phil Roeder / flickr

Rising in popularity over the years, a trip to the local farmers’ market has become a staple outing for summers in Iowa. If the “buy fresh, buy local” shopping experience interests you, there are some tips to ensure your visit is worth your while. Iowa State University Specialist in Value Added Agriculture Linda Naeve suggests bringing a cooler with a freezer pack in if you have a long distance to drive, bringing reusable grocery bags, and not bringing your dog unless it’s a service animal.

Pete Pattavina/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bats are a fascinating and beneficial part of Iowa's eco-system, but they have a public relations problem; centuries of fictional villainy and bad publicity means that many people are still frightened and disgusted by them.

Omar Bárcena / Flickr

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected interviews with more than 400,000 Americans across the country. Now StoryCorps' mobile booth is coming to Iowa.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the founder of StoryCorps, David Isay, interview facilitator Emily Janssen, as well as Iowa Public Radio's Katherine Perkins, who reminisces about the stories collected the last time StoryCorps was in the state. She says that facilitating interviews and producing the stories that came from them was a life changing experience.

Charity Nebbe

Rivers are a vital part of Iowa's ecosystem.

“Rivers in Iowa are the most important corridors of habitat, the ribbons of habitat, that we have left," says  wildlife biologist Jim Pease.

Over the past four summers Pease has paddled 1800 miles of Iowa rivers. On these trips he’s learned a lot about habitat, water quality, and human impact on the water ways. 

Courtesy of Rodney Lewis

Rodney’s Kitchen is a new restaurant in downtown Waterloo. It started as a catering business and small 

counter service, but the owner Rodney Lewis just opened at a new location downtown with a menu that mixes American grill, soul food, and Mediterranean dishes.

Like any other restaurant owner, Lewis is hoping to secure a loyal clientele with great food and great service, but he also has another mission. He’s giving away lunches to local kids who need them, because he says he knows what it’s like to be hungry. 

Sara Hill

French master chef David Baruthio's career has taken him all over the world. He has opened restaurants in many countries and here in Iowa, including Baru 66 and Prime Land and Sea in Des Moines. Baruthio explains that as a master chef he considers cooking to be an art, a craft, and a passion.

Demonstration Gardens Offer Ideas for Iowans

Jul 14, 2017
US Army Garrison / flick

If you’re having trouble getting something to grow or just looking to gather new planting ideas for your garden, Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach is a great local resource. This summer they are offering six opportunities across the state for Iowans to learn about gardening techniques and to ask questions about the plants in their gardens.

Charity Nebbe

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

CLIC Sargent / Flickr

No one wants to wind up in the hospital, but it's not just the threat of a health crisis that makes us dread a visit. The environment - the stark, sterile, cold, and clinical atmosphere isn't the most pleasant. Hospitals everywhere are trying to change that. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Rodney Dieser, a professor of leisure, youth and human services at the University of Northern Iowa about his research into how the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has approached making their space more welcoming for families and less stressful for staff. 

Appalachian dreamer / Flickr

When John Criss died in 2015 he bequeathed 5.7 million dollars to his hometown Sac City, but with a stipulation: all of the money must be spent on the beautification of the town.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe explores Criss' legacy and the future of Sac City with three of the trustees to his estate. She also talks with economist Neil Harl and estate planning lawyer Gordon Fischer about the dos and don’ts of planning an estate. 

No Easy Solution for Japanese Beetles

Jul 7, 2017
Matthew Beziat / flickr

The Japanese beetle has reached its peak population in places across Iowa. While some areas of the state have not seen the beetle’s appearance at all, isolated spots have seen early spurts of incredibly high numbers. Professor and Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis says that typically it’s toward the end of June that Japanese beetles emerge over a 3-4 week period. This year though, it seems they have all appeared at once.

Ann Sullivan-Larson

In 2011, after 73 years in business, the Electrolux factory in Webster City closed its doors. The closing was a major blow for the small town, but the people Webster City didn’t take the loss sitting down.

A new short documentary, "Made in Iowa," focuses on the growth of small businesses in Webster City following the factory closure.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the man behind the documentary, the Webster City mayor, and a life long resident of Webster City.

Courtesy of the Gable Family

Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable has been a household name in Iowa for decades. After bringing home three state wrestling championships in high school, he went on to the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he successfully wrestled without losing a single point. He famously coached the University of Iowa team to win 15 NCAA titles before retiring after the 1997 season. Since then he has continued to coach and has been actively working to keep Olympic and collegiate wrestling alive and thriving.

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