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.

Amy Broadmoore

Kelly Teeselink was 9 when she started to struggle with a negative body image."I remember nearly everything negative ever said about my body. I have a little box in my memory of those comments. I remember feeling that it was really important for me to be a certain way, look a certain way, be a certain weight."

When Teeselink received a "Barbie" workout tape as a gift she remembers thinking she would work out until she was skinny. She's found diary entries from 4th or 5th grade lamenting how unfair it was that some people were skinny when it was so hard for her.

New Year's Resolutions for Your Garden

Jan 5, 2018
Image courtesy of Reiman Gardens

The harsh winter weather is upon us this January, and many Iowans are left longingly looking at their outdoor gardens buried in snow wondering what they can do to stay busy during the winter months. While some may opt to visit Iowa's many wonderful indoor botanical gardens, another option is to create a similar atmosphere within your own home. Assistant director of Reiman Gardens, Aaron Steil, has suggestions how to create a humid atmosphere for plants to grow.

Lotzman Katzman/Flickr

There are so many ways for kids and their parents to experience and learn about nature. Splashing in a puddle, examining a spiderweb, listening to night sounds, and following animal tracks are all examples. But what to do in the winter? 


The Oxford Dictionaries declared "youthquake" as its Word of the Year for 2017, although we found out that it was  originally coined in about 1965 by the fashion industry.  This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks again with our "Word Maven," Patricia O'Conner, proprietor of the popular language blog, "Grammarphobia."  O'Conner is the author of a number of language books, including "Woe is I," "Words Fail Me," and "Origins of the Specious."

Courtesy of Iowa State University Large Animal Hospital

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you’ve probably heard the story of Phineas Gage. He was a railroad worker who survived a terrible accident in which an iron rod was driven through his head. He’s remembered in the psychology books because that accident taught us a lot about how the brain works.

In this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation about an Iowa horse named Jamberry who had a very similar accident to Gage.

Till Westermayer / Flickr, Creative Commons

A lot of people in 2017 have heard that "it's hard to listen to the news." Between natural disasters, political developments, and acts of violence, it's been an eventful year. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks about good news, acts of kindness, and thankfulness. 

Nathan Timmel

Nathan Timmel is a stand-up comedian, which means he can often be away from home on weekends traveling.  Years ago, he decided that time away could include writing letters to reflect on family events and moments.  

After Timmel first became a dad, he wrote letters to his daughter which were published in It's OK to Talk to Animals: (and Other Letters from Dad). Now he is a a father of two kids, and he has been writing advice for a son.  Those letters are published in Hey Buddy: Dubious Advice From Dad.

Courtesy of Bob Dorr

Rock and roll babies, here's your best of list for 2017, according to Bob Dorr! He talked about his favorite releases and re-releases of the year with Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe. 

Elvin Bishop - Big Fun Trio

Elvin Bishop's Big Fun Trio combines Elvin's signature good humor song writing and guitar playing with Bob Welsh, the keys player in Elvin's regular band and Willy Jordan on Cajon, a South American percussion instrument. That disc came out in early 2017, I expect it to win some major awards.

Tony Dehner / Iowa Public Radio

Lots of new music was released in 2017; here at Iowa Public Radio, we received more than 2,000 albums. If wading through all of that sounds overwhelming, never fear. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tony Dehner and Mark Simmet of Iowa Public Radio's Studio One about their favorite albums of the year. 

We've also had our most musically-minded staff curate their top five favorite albums of this year, including Morning Edition host Clay Masters. Check out our Spotify playlist and read album reviews below. 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical treatment that's been around for thousands of years.  It has become more mainstream over the course of the last twenty years, and in this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Deb van Latenstein who is a licensed acupuncturist at the Acupuncture Wellness Center and Allergy Clinic of Iowa in Des Moines. She says acupuncture isn't magic, and it's easiest to understand if you think about the body about a piece of meat. 

Image courtesy of Ildefonso Gómez Sierra

The plants outside are starting to change their shape and color. Given that the trees have shed their leaves and the ground is too frozen to plant almost anything, many Iowans are left twiddling their green thumbs wondering how they can manage to plant anything in this weather. Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, suggests planting some holly. – cropping and lighting changes made
Peter Shanks

As you ponder what to give as gifts for the music-lovers in your life, consider the expertise of some Iowa Public Radio music hosts. In this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hears about the notable releases and recordings of 2017 from the host of IPR's The Folk Tree Karen Impola, as well as classical music host Barney Sherman.

Karen Impola's top folk music picks for 2017

1. Catfish Keith – "Shake Sugaree" – Mississippi River Blues

2. Al Murphy – "Steamboat Quickstep" – Hogs in the Cornfield

Mike-Wise / - Cropping and lighting changes made

Iowans have been reporting snowy owl sightings across the state this year. In this wildlife day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by wildlife biologist Jim Pease to talk through the unique characteristics of the snowy owl, and why they are in Iowa.

"It's a common thing that happens with northern critters. It includes everything from snowshoes hares in the boreal forest to snowy owls in the arctic. They go through regular cycles of boom and bust in response to the available food supply."

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

UI Writer's Workshop graduate Reza Aslan has been writing and talking about God for most of his career. His newest book God: A Human History follows his last title Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

"If we can learn to stop hoisting our own emotions upon God, I think we can pave the path for a much more peaceful religiosity," he says. 


Twenty years ago, Rick Autry was looking for fables to read with his young children. He wanted stories that taught lessons but without all the violence and sexism found in centuries old fairy tales. When he couldn't find what he was looking for he approached his father, author Jim Autry. The result is "Everyday Virtues: Classic Tales to Read with Kids."

linus_art /

Holiday season is about giving, but it also involves getting more things.  Some people already feel overwhelmed with too many possessions.  During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with guests about decluttering, and about how to navigate the process of handing down heirlooms and other collections.  

The Best Children's Books to Give in 2017

Dec 4, 2017
Lindsey Moon

Finding just the right book for a child in your life and can be wonderful and challenging! Talk of Iowa is here to help. Host Charity Nebbe talks with Barb Stein of Prairie Lights Books and Sue Davis of River Lights Bookstore about the best new books to give children and teens this year. 


The medical and mental health communities are doing their best to learn about and treat post traumatic stress disorder more effectively. Historically, the term "shell shocked" immediately comes to mind, and a new play by Combined Efforts Theatre in Iowa City raises some questions about the kinds of trauma that soldiers who fought in World War I experienced when the term was first introduced. 

Image courtesy of cocoparisienne

With the holiday season just around the corner, many living rooms will soon be filled with towering Christmas trees and holiday plants like poinsettias. Many Iowans have questions about how to care for these plants, and DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh has advice for those who would like to keep their trees properly hydrated indoors.

There are 2.2 billion Christians in the world, and there's a whole lot of diversity under the umbrella of that religion. Pastor Lillian Daniel, who lives in Dubuque and is senior pastor at First Congregational Church, is frustrated by the stereotypes that have developed about Christians and other people who attend church. 

Emily Woodbury

Artist Rose Frantzen grew up in Maquoketa and started painting portraits when she was in high school. Since then, she’s gained national and international acclaim for her oil paintings. She lives and works with her husband, Chuck Morris, an acclaimed artist of his own right.

Iowa seems like an unlikely destination for two very successful artists who met in New York City’s Central Park, but Rose Frantzen and Chuck Morris have made Maquoketa their home, their workplace, and an artistic destination.

Food Bank of Iowa

Around the holidays, there are a lot of organizations hosting food drives, collecting canned and non-perishable foods to send to food banks and pantries across the state. That's a worthy effort, and those donations are appreciated by food banks. But food banks want people to also consider that they have more purchasing power for a dollar than you do. 

During this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Michelle Book, who is CEO of the Food Bank of Iowa. Book says her organization distributes one million pounds of food a month to more than 75,000 Iowans. 

benjamin sTone/flickr

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been dubbed #GivingTuesday, and in light of that fairly recent development, many end-of-year fundraising campaigns are getting a boost. This hour on Talk of Iowa, we hear from a few community foundations in Iowa about the work they are doing. 

"Community foundations serve a specific geographic area. In the state of Iowa, we have at least one, and sometimes more than one in each of our ninety-nine counties," explains Kari McCann Boutell, who is president of the Iowa Council of Foundations. 

Didriks / Flickr

For many, listening to StoryCorps on Friday mornings has become routine—a few minutes to listen, learn, reflect, and often shed a few tears.

When StoryCorps debuted in 2003, it sounded unlike anything else on public radio.  They were stories not driven by news or cultural events, and they were stories that didn’t feature news-makers. These were stories of normal people sharing their memories. We quickly learned that those normal people were extraordinary, and that we all have stories to share.

Earlier this month, six Iowa veterans told their stories at a live event in Iowa City.  The event was "Roll Call: Veterans Share Their True Stories" presented by Iowa Watch and hosted by Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe.  It took place on November 9th at Old Brick in Iowa City.  In the link above, hear these veterans' stories:


We go through life surrounded by other people, but for many people, the isolation of the modern world takes a serious toll on health and happiness. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about what he sees as an epidemic of loneliness in the U.S. 

"If you're not lonely, and you're listening to this radio segment, there are people around you who are," he says.

Emily Woodbury

If you're looking to update your reading list or need gift suggestions for friends & family, this annual holiday book show has got you covered.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Weismiller and Tim Budd of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Hunter Gillum of Beaverdale Books in Des Moines. They share their top picks for fiction and non-fiction books released this year.


Artemis by Andy Weir

Photo Courtesty of Chris Weaver / Instagram

It's been a big year for Iowans on the NBC reality singing competition "The Voice." Chris Weaver, who attended college in Pella at Central College and lived in Des Moines for the better part of a decade working as a workshop leader for Lutheran Church of Hope, is one of them. During this hour he talks with host Charity Nebbe about how he got started singing, and how he's made a career for himself working as both a workshop leader and as a performer. His drag character is named Nedra Belle. 

Protecting Your Winter Garden

Nov 17, 2017
Artem Vasev

It’s mid-November, and winter weather is already upon us. Many Iowans want to know how to prepare their yard and garden for winter. Winter garden care involves covering strawberries, prepping roses, and getting ready to fend off hungry rabbits. Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens in Ames has advice for those who want to protect their strawberries.

Ocean Biology Processing Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr, Creative Commons

When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his most famous speech, he did not say "I have a problem." A growing environmental movement called #EarthOptimism is taking that idea and painting a vision for a brighter future.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Nancy Knowlton, who is chair of marine science at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian and founder of the earth optimism movement, and Connie Mutel, who is a senior science writer at the University of Iowa.