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.

Wikimedia Commons

Iowa State Basketball star Georges Niang was drafted to move to Indiana at the end of last season play for the Pacers. He's been active on their roster and their feeder team's roster, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He's keeping a diary of his travels and time in the NBA, giving fans a sneak peak behind the curtain. 

Anton Raath / Flickr

In recent weeks, sales of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, first published in 1949, have soared. It climbed to the top of the amazon.com best seller list, and bookstores report that copies are flying off the shelves.

Since so many people are reading or re-reading it right now, on this "book club" edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation about what makes this classic relevant in 2017. 

She starts the hour talking with Andrew Simmons, an English teacher who transforms his classroom into the world of 1984 and Big Brother every October.

Stephanie Brunia

Stephanie Brunia is a photographer who lives in Oxford, Iowa. One of her favorite subjects is her father, Steve. Her work is on display right now in Café Baratta in the State Historical Building. It’s a unique exhibition titled Thursday’s Childinspired by a moment when Stephanie noticed her dad's age in a way she hadn't before.

Melanie Levi / Flickr

Stories of extraordinary weight loss make gripping television, but the kind of fast and furious weight loss viewers love to see doesn’t tend to last.

“The body was equipped to defend against weight loss, and that makes maintenance of weight loss during dieting an exercise extremely difficult," says Dr. Allyn Mark of the University of Iowa. "This is true not only with the contestants in the biggest loser…but it’s also true of individuals who diet to lose modest amounts of weight.”

If you've spent time touring Iowa, you've noticed signs for towns like What Cheer, Des Moines and Maquoketa. You've also probably seen signs for rivers named "Raccoon" and "Nishnabotna." Where did those place names come from, and what's the best way to pronounce them? 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with word maven Patricia O'Conner, who is author of the book Woe is I and author of the blog "Grammarphobia." 

Clare Roth / Iowa Public Radio

The Kirkwood Culinary Arts program, located on campus in Cedar Rapids, was ranked as the #16 Culinary program in the country by Best Choice Schools. David Horsfield, department chair of hospitality at the school, says it's due to some true foresight Kirkwood leaders had in the late 2000s to create a classroom that would operate in the real world. The program has students serve regular guests off the street, instead of simply their teachers and fellow chefs-in-training. He dubs the inciting incident "the whisper story."

Phee/Wikimedia Commons

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, we ask: 'what's stressing you out right now?' We also talk about ways to better manage stress and stress' effects on the body and mind. 

"We don't want to paint stress all as a negative. Stress is really important for us to have in our lives," says Dr. Hanna Stevens, who studies stress and is a psychiatrist at the University of Iowa.  "If you have absolutely no stimulation in your life, you wouldn't learn things. Your brain wouldn't develop right, and your body wouldn't develop right." 

John Downer Productions Ltd. / BBC

Chimpanzees are human's closest living animal relatives. They share 99 percent of human DNA and quite a bit of behavior, both positive and negative.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe speaks with primatologist and anthropology professor at Iowa State University, Jill Pruetz. For the last sixteen years she has studied the lives of Savanna chimpanzees in Fongoli, Senegal, and these chimps are featured in the new BBC series, Spy in the Wild, premiering tonight at 7 p.m. CST on Iowa Public Television.

Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

McGregor, Iowa might be the birthplace of American circus. The Ringling brothers, after all, were born there and spent 12 years there before moving to Baraboo, Wisconsin, where they founded the Ringling Brothers Circus. 

Peter Wagner, past-president of the Circus Fans Association of America, has researched the brothers' history in Iowa. 

"Their first show was in McGregor. At that time, they weren't even a traveling circus," he says. "They would go to various states and check into a hotel and then would announce that they would do a show in the lobby of the hotel." 

Courtesy of Akwi Nji / The Hook

“The Hook” is building community and bringing people together in Cedar Rapids through story-telling, poetry and other performance. The creative collaborative began in January 2016 with poetry readings and curated live performances. Now it's expanded to ARTLoud, a program that intersects poetry, music, and dance, and a new series that takes place in the living rooms of regular folks around the city.

Smabs Sputzer / Flickr

After a couple of weeks of ice, snow, mud, and gloom over most of the state, the thought of working outside may not be very appealing right now, but the sun in peeking out today and there is still work to be done outside.

Jeff Iles, professor and chair in the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University says pruning is best done during the dormant season.

Penn State / Flickr

Sepsis strikes more than a million Americans every year. Between 28 and 50 percent of those patients will die.

"People are getting all kinds of procedures that are altering their immune system and their ability to handle these infections, and so what we see is that infections are actually going up and we're getting significant number of deaths," says Dr. Patrick Schlievert, professor and chair in the Department of Microbiology at the UI Carver College of Medicine. "The funding and the understanding that goes with that has not kept up with it."

Jim Wise / Flickr

Tami Rundle understands that a barn is not necessarily the sexiest subject for a documentary. When her husband Kelly suggested doing an hour-long feature of the creation and history of barns, she was hesitant.

"I was like, 'Ooo-kay...we'll give this a shot,'" she laughs. "But, as is often the case with our documentary subjects, I caught the bug. And probably the most inspirational and wonderful part of the project was hearing these stories, and that really is the soul of the film. That is what brings these barns to life again."

The History Press

On Dec. 12, 1934, police raided a canning factory in Cedar Rapids--what they found was an illegal bar and gambling set up.  That incident set off a year-long investigation into graft that reached into all levels of Iowa State government.  It was all driven by Verne Marshall, the editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.  Jerry Harrington, an Iowa City writer of Iowa history, tells the story in his new book, "Crusading Iowa Journalist Verne Marshall: Exposing Graft and the 1936 Pulitzer Prize." (History Press)

Daniel Lobo / Flickr

Suicide rates in the United States are the highest they’ve been in 30 years, but no matter what statistics show us, each individual loss to suicide is devastating. Survivors are left with grief, anger, questions and often a sense of guilt. Cheri Jenkins, whose father and mother both died by suicide, said one of the hardest emotions for her to reconcile was anger.

IPR's Emily Woodbury

Still printed on a 19-century letterpress printing machine in Anamosa, IA, publisher Tim Fay has just released his 23rd issue of "The Wapsipinicon Almanac."  It's a homegrown, homemade journal and features essays, stories and articles by Iowa writers.  The first issue was published in 1988 and you can't order it or read it online.  You'll have to find it in a bookstore or other shop.

Steve Evans/Wikimedia Commons

Around 1,000 refugees resettled in Iowa in 2016. Most of them arrive in the state with nothing to their name and have three months of support to learn a new language, get a job and find a place to live. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with representatives from organizations that help refugees get settled and work with them after other services to help them expire. 

Global Greens, a project of Lutheran Services in Iowa, is helping refugees find land to farm, and is helping people to learn the business of farming. 

Chris / Flickr

Shumpei Yamaki never thought dance would work out. He assumed hip hop would be a hobby.

"Then I started to go to school in Philadelphia and I was skipping classes to learn to dance," he says.

Realizing where his passion truly lay allowed him to focus more of his time and energy in the art. He felt he was on his way when someone else's choice sent his life spinning in a different direction once again.

"I got hit by a drunk driver, so I had to stop dancing," he says.  "That was one of my questions for the doctor: 'Can I back flip again?'"

Charity Nebbe

When wolves disappeared from Iowa in the early 20th century, coyotes filled the vacancy left behind.

"The coyote, then, was mostly a western species - a great plains species that gradually moved eastward," says emeritus wildlife extension specialist, Jim Pease.

In addition to adapting to a new area, coyotes have also adapted to live alongside humans.

The Unnamed Press

This hour, we hear from two women (one an Iowan and the other a former Iowan) who have had their first books published.  Charity speaks with Stephanie Ash, who grew up in Oelwein and attended the University of Iowa and Jen Rouse, who lives in Iowa City.   Stephanie's book is a novel and Jen's is a poetry collection.

John Pemble

In what may be his final Condition of the State address of his career, Governor Terry Branstad urged lawmakers to prioritize K-12 funding, road safety, and water-quality.

He also signaled support for changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws and called for 2017 to be a “Year of Manufacturing” in Iowa. 

Alisabeth Von Presley

We know that media images and cultural expectations can have serious consequences for girls, but how do boys and men feel when flooded with images of the ideal man with six pack abs and a chiseled physique?

Tim Eilers, who is Wellness Director for Whirlpool and a former college football player, says that when he was younger, those images made an impression.

“I played on the offensive line, so they wanted me to be as big as I could be. I wanted chiseled abs,” he says.

Photo Courtesty of the Iowa State University Department of Agriculture

There are blooms outdoors, even when it seems like everything has gone gray. You just have to know where to look for them. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, horticulture expert with Iowa State University Extension and Cindy Haynes, who is professor in charge of the master gardener program. 

"The lenten rose might be something you’d consider for a bloom. Some people call it a Christmas rose," says Haynes. 

Iowa has dozens of opera houses and performance venues outside of its urban hubs. Some of these are still in use, others that used to get used quite a lot, don’t anymore. “The Nitch,” a touring vaudeville style show and integrated arts learning program based on a book of the same name, is trying to change that. 

Courtesy of Asphate

Paintings, symphonies, and sculptures have long been considered art forms, but the last century has given way to newer forms of expression that many consider to be artistic.

"Art is something that captures a lot of what we all agree upon is important or beautiful, but what makes it art is something that takes it into that realm of someone's imagination," says Todd Behrens, curator of the Sioux City Art Museum.

Michael Leland / Iowa Public Radio

Humans have been making monuments and memorializing events, people, and tragedies for a long time. Do we think about memorials different today than we used to? 

According to David Schmitz, who is Executive Director with the Dubuque Museum of Art, the answer is yes.  Schmidtz has worked cataloging memorials and monuments in the state. 

When you think of the state of Iowa, you might not initially find yourself thinking about its music scene or rich musical culture. But there is a growing diversity of sound in the state and a “special sauce” that makes the music that’s made here unique.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dave Zollo, Iowa City based artist and founder of Trailer Records; Luke Tweedy, owner of Flat Black Studios and Tim Hankewich of Orchestra Iowa about music in Iowa.

Katherine Perkins/IPR

Just off of 2nd Avenue in Cedar Rapids sits an unassuming little carriage house. In a tiny studio apartment that used to be the hayloft, is where the most iconic American painting was created. Artist Grant Wood lived as well as worked in the space from 1924 - 1935, and he created all of his masterpieces there, including "American Gothic," "Young Corn," and "Woman with Plants."

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe toured the studio with Katherine Kunau, associate curator of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Zach Boyden-Holmes / The Des Moines Register

An act of kindness may make someone smile or brighten a day. It might help a person through a difficult time, provide comfort and care in a time of crisis, or even change a life or lives.

This edition of Talk of Iowa highlights acts of kindness and compassion remembered by Iowans. Featured this hour:

Photo by Amy Mayer / Iowa Public Radio

Michigan native and Chicago resident Edward McClelland, author of "Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President," has written his first book on language and appropriately has chosen to focus on the Midwest. 

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