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.

Pbroks13 / Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to remodeling your kitchen, there are lots of questions to ask about your lifestyle first. Home improvement expert Bill McAnally suggests consulting with a kitchen designer if you can, or at least doing your research.

Sally Reick

Candidates running for president have been in and out of Iowa for the last several months outlining their positions on the environment, taxes, gun control and health care. Have you heard any of them talk about their position on food? On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richardo Salvador and Mark Bittman about their push to create a conversation about food policy, and how the government subsidizes food production.

Dianne Dillon Ridgley

Two events put Henry Hampton on the path to creating an award-winning documentary series about the Civil Rights movement. That's according to his friend, human rights and environmental activist Dianne Dillon Ridgley.

Photo Courtesy of Alyssa Leicht

If you dreamed about running away to join the circus, it’s not too late. In fact, you don’t even have to run away. There’s a growing community of circus performers right here in Iowa. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Felicia Coe and Laura Ernst, who are the co-founders of the Iowa Circus Academy in Des Moines. 

They are offer circus fitness classes for beginners, flexibility classes, and more advanced courses as well. 

Photo Courtesy of the Raptor Resource Center

Last year was a tough year for the famous Decorah eagles and the Raptor Resource Center. The eagles battled for their nest, and the center's director Bob Anderson passed away unexpectedly mid-summer. But things are starting to look up. That's according to John Howe, the center's new executive director. 

"After Bob's passing, we got a lot of support, and we really appreciate it," he says. "We're moving forward."

The center started building a new nest for the eagles very close to the first nest, and they lured them home with trout. 

The subject matter of comic books goes far beyond the Marvel and DC superheroes we all know.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about how black women are represented in comics and graphics novels, as well as their influence on the industry, with Deborah Whaley, the author of Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels and Anime.

Stan Shebs

During the long, gray days of winter, some gardeners take comfort by looking through seed catalogs, and others find solace in the beauty of indoor houseplants. Cindy Haynes, an associate professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, says there are several indoor plants that are easy to care for during the winter months.

Kuviin / Wikimedia Commons

Regular exercise is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of many serious health conditions, but many of us still struggle with making it a part of our lives. Would you be more likely to exercise if your doctor prescribed it?

Dr. Britt Marcussen says that if you’re trying to start a new habit, stick with it.

“We are all creatures of habit. It takes a long time if you’re not an exerciser to become an exerciser and have it be second nature to you. If takes several months of working a program before it becomes a habit,” he says.

Stanford University’s marching band generated quite a load of controversy at the Rose Bowl last week when they played the FarmersOnly.com jingle, and brought a giant cow onto the field  then proceeded to tip it. But the band is known for trolling its opponents and has upset scores of fans at three out of the last four Rose Bowls.

During this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band Director Kevin Kastens about Iowa’s performance at the Rose Bowl and about marching band styles and culture across the country.

Joshua and Lori Kagavi

Iowa State University’s Jack Trice Stadium and Drake University’s Johnny Bright Field are memorials to two African American football players whose college careers ended tragically and prematurely due to violence on the field. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe revisits the stories of these players and the lesser known story of Ozzie Simmons, who played for the University of Iowa in the 1930s.

Lake Superior State University in Michigan has been issuing its "Banished Words List" since 1975.  The wordsmiths there now have over 800 entries on their list of overused, tired and shopworn words and phrases. 

Katherine Perkins / IPR

There was a time when Iowans knew their neighbors. They relied on each other to help with labor on the farm, or to keep an eye on children. And if you didn't see your neighbors during the week, you saw them on Sunday at church. But as church attendance declines and farms are fewer and farther between, Iowans are finding new ways to form community.

Mark Kortum / Flickr

Parenting in Iowa has changed a lot over the decades.

“We have the luxury of giving lots and lots of time and energy to kids that our great-grandparents didn’t,” says Pamela Riney-Kehrberg of Iowa State University.

Iowa Digital Library / Flickr

From one room country schools to high tech multi-million dollar facilities, schools in Iowa have changed a lot. What goes on inside the schools has changed a lot too.

“Every decade or two we see these large transformations in what the school is asked to do."

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe kicks off "Iowa Week: Then and Now" with a look at education in Iowa over the years.

Markus Grossalber / Flickr

"Remember the reason for the season" is an oft-repeated platitude, intended to rebuke the commercialization of Christmas and bring to the forefront thoughts of Jesus in a manger. But Bruce Forbes, professor of Religious Studies at Morningside College in Sioux City and author of Christmas: A Candid History, says the reason for the season is more complicated, and far older than Jesus' birth.

Photo Courtesy of Angie Hansen

With our 24 hours news cycle, it’s easy to get caught up in the crisis of the day. While all that is going on, however, individuals everywhere are making a difference by performing acts of kindness that will never make it into a newscast. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with a handful of Iowans touched by remarkable acts of kindness in 2015.

Myleen Hollero / Flickr

Cheddar cheese was named after a small town in England, but it has become a very American cheese.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe learns about the history of cheddar, the birth of so-called American cheese, and the resurgence of great cheese in this country. She talks with Gordon Edgar, author of Cheddar: A Journey to the Heart of America's Most Iconic Cheese.

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

In 1990, Steinway artist, pianist, and composer Dan Knight had organized an in-house choir at the University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Knight says one song struck them as special.

"Right in the middle of this particular song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, there was this most amazing moment. It was kind of like, all of a sudden, something just kind of took off and the choir and the piano became one and we all just kind of went somewhere else. It was transformative."

After the song, a chaplain from the hospital approached him.

Basher Eyre / Wikimedia Commons

So far this year, winter has been unusually warm. While it feels great to us, it's not the best thing for the flowers and plants around us. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens, about this year's unusual winter, which has some daffodils flowering early at Iowa State. 

Courtesy of the Office of the State Archaeologist

It's long been taught that the origins of modern agriculture are in the fertile crescent in the Middle East, but recent archaeological finds point to the fact that cultures the world over were developing ways to domesticate plants and animals in the same time period.

"We used to think about the fertile crescent that way because that's where the most excavation had been done," explains Bruce Smith, curator of North American Archaeology at the Smithsonian Institution. "But it's more true that agriculture developed simultaneously all around the world than in just one place." 

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scores of sold-out theaters for opening night, the release of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is inspiring high hopes among life long fans of the franchise. Fans gathered last week at the Palek Studio and Gallery to show off "Star Wars"-themed art, on their canvases and their bodies.

"I actually got a Kylo Ren-Darth Vader tattoo done today. [...] It's a Lion King Pride Rock Darth Vader passing on the torch to Kylo Ren by holding him up and I thought that was adorable and I needed it so I did it," says Ryan Gillepsie.

courtesy of Alex Braidwood

Have you ever wondered what a healthy lake sounds like?

Iowa based sound artist Alex Braidwood has. While he was working as an artist-in-residence for the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory Regents Resource Center, a biological field station and nature preserve in Northwest Iowa, he devised a way to listen to the water.

He’s taken data being collected by a buoy floating in Lake Okoboji about water temperature and oxygen levels and has assigned each of the data points tones.

Courtesy of Michele Weldon

Michele Weldon is a survivor. She’s raised three kids as a single mother after ending an abusive marriage and has written about her story in her new memoir “Escape Points: A Memoir.”

“I was married, unfortunately, to a charming handsome attorney who was physically abusive about once a year. I kept that secret from my family and my friends, but not from my therapist," she explains. "I ended that marriage in 1995 and wanted to write about the truth and the myths that we have surrounding domestic violence – that it doesn’t happen to smart, educated women.”

Bruno Bollaert / Flickr

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Impola and Barney Sherman to look back at some of the best things to come out of the year in folk and classical music.

anjanettew / Flickr

The idea of giving someone a wonderful gift is joyful, but in reality gift giving can be tremendously stressful.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on the art and power of gift giving. She talks with gift expert Harry Liebersohn, author of The Return of the Gift: European History of a Global Idea, about the history of the gift exchanges and the place they hold in our culture. He refers to gifts as “the emotional language we used to bind ourselves together.”

Temple University Press

President Barack Obama's love for basketball is legendary, but what can we learn from it?   Celebrated sports writer Alexander Wolff attempts to answer that in a new, beautifully illustrated book, "The Audacity of Hoop," which examines our president through the game he loves so much. 

liz west / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh about the trees of the season. Vitosh describes the labor put into the growing of these trees as well as the interesting weather that has come this winter.

"Iced tea and a Christmas tree. What do you know?" Vitosh chuckles.

The Tools Worth Your Time

Dec 3, 2015
Mark Hunter / Wikimedia Commons

If you have a tinkerer in your life, you might find yourself tool shopping this holiday season. The main question is -  which tools are worth your time? Home improvement expert  Bill McAnally says that you can get some amazing work done with power tools like the circular saw, but you need to be prepared when using them.

"One issue though, is you really want to read the directions," he laughs.  

McAnally also suggests that you should try too keep your tools and shop clean to ensure you don't end up wasting money.

There’s been a lot of great music released this year, and on this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa Public Radio Studio One Tracks hosts Mark Simmet and Tony Dehner about the best new independent and alternative albums of 2015. Then, we get an update about the best in new blues from Bob Dorr, who hosts Blue Avenue, Backtracks and Beatles Medley and is leader of The Blue Band.  

Mark Simmet’s list of best new tracks in 2015

courtesy of the Iowa Fashion Project

The Midwest is not traditionally regarded as a style hub, but a few young designers based in Iowa are trying to change that. They’ve launched the Iowa Fashion Project, which will hold its first full fashion show in just a few weeks.

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