Local businesses

hyoin min / flickr

Democratizing entrepreneurship and creativity

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with co-founder Amanda West and speakers of this year's EntreFEST, a three-day event promising game-changing training and inspiration, featuring over a hundred entrepreneurs. They discuss why co-working spaces are becoming more popular, how tech can help factories thrive in the 21st century, and how politics, art, and contemporary culture inspired a thought-provoking t-shirt line.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media


Northwestern Colorado has a rich heritage of raising sheep – either for their meat or for wool.

El Photography and Design

A lawsuit against Templeton Rye has received approval to proceed by the state attorney general’s office, but Founder Keith Kerkhoff says the allegations of the lawsuit are untrue. 

Red Earth Green Earth

Sep 11, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Members of the Meskwaki Nation near Tama have established a community-based farm operation.

The Red Earth Gardens spans 40 acres and boasts a wide variety of crops.  In the short two seasons they've been in operation, they've managed to grow numerous varieties of  fruits and vegetables. The tribe's extensive planning process includes a transition from row crop to certified organic by sometime next year.

Tribal members grow produce for the settlement but they also sell it to the nearby casino, at a roadside stand and at area farmer's markets.  

Iowa Winegrowers Association

Iowa's grape harvest is underway in many parts of the state and the news from the field is not good. State Viticulturist Mike White says a cold and wet spring destroyed many of the vines and production statewide could be down between 30 and 40 percent. He says " there are some spots like Dubuque that seem to be fairing  better, but mostly the cold damage is there and the yield is low."

J. Stephen Conn

In this segment of River to River, we discuss the situation in the Northwest Iowa town of Cherokee, home to about 5000 Iowans.

Library of Congress

During prohibition, there were people all over the United States making and selling spirits, but the people in Templeton, Iowa who were making fine whiskey were not your run of the mill bootleggers.  Host Charity Nebbe digs in to the remarkable history of Templeton Rye with Bryce Bauer, author of Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots and historian Tim Walch.  They talk about why Iowa went dry five years before the rest of the country and how this small town set

El Photography and Design

If you drink whiskey, and if you eat pork, you’ve probably come to understand them as a pretty good pairing. Scott Bush, President and Founder of Templeton Rye Whiskey in Templeton, Iowa, says he's always enjoyed the combination. Recently, he's taken it one step further.


Public radio's most well-known voice, Garrison Keillor, speaks to Host Charity Nebbe about his new book, "The Keillor Reader" (Penguin).  

Mr. Keillor will be bringing his "A Prairie Home Companion," to Des Moines this Saturday, May 3rd and he'll also read from the book in Iowa City on Sunday, May 4th.  Does he consider himself a shy person?--listen and find out!

Emily Woodbury, via Wordle

A trip to the emergency room is expensive, even for more routine procedures. Take for example, Ron Smith, an Indianola resident whose $24,240 bill for a rabies vaccination was negotiated down by $17,627 by his insurance company.

Today, the third installment in our examination of hospital costs. We find out how insurance negotiations play into how much you pay for that ER visit, how Iowa’s insurance landscape may change through the Affordable Care Act, and how the number of visits to the ER may be affected by Obamacare.

Today's guests include:

Fish Farm

Apr 17, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

One of Iowa's only Aquaponics facilities is marketing locally grown, chemical free vegetables and fish raised in a sustainable manner and available year round. All Seasons Harvest is located just north of Cedar Falls and grows lettuce, kale, herbs and Tilapia fish in a six thousand square foot greenhouse.  

A Taste of Iowa Summer

Mar 20, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

A first of its kind facility in Marshalltown is bringing a taste of Iowa summer to dinner tables.  Iowa Choice Harvest frozen sweet corn and apples have been available in a few grocery stores in the central part of the state, but in April, all 107 Fareway stores will feature the products.  Iowa Choice Harvest is a group of 30 farmers who have invested in the company to have Iowa grown fruits and vegetables available year round.   CEO Penny Brown Huber was able to secure a USDA grant to study how the market would react to a facility like theirs.

Ragged Records / facebook

Today on River to River, we explore the continuing changes in the music industry...including the fact that more and more users are listening from large online libraries of music – like Rhapsody, Spotify, or Pandora – rather than purchasing individual songs or albums. We also discuss why vinyl records are making a comeback.

On a strict party-line vote, a committee in the Iowa Senate today addressed  what they say may be  excessive reserves  at the state’s leading health insurance company.   The bill would give the state insurance commissioner authority to order Wellmark to give profits back to consumers depending on the results of an audit of the company’s bottom line.     An earlier audit showed the company’s reserves might be too low.     


Monastery Candy

Feb 14, 2014
Monastery Candy

Iowa is home to many talented chocolatiers and a number of them live in a place that might surprise you. Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey is a cloistered monastic community of Trappistine nuns near Dubuque. 

Tuukka Koski / Little, Brown and Company


A full-bodied red wine works best here, as it won't be overpowered by the dark chocolate.  Try a Criollo-heavy chocolate with notes of dark fruit, like Madagascar.


  • Heavy cream, 1/2 cup
  • Dark chocolate, 6 ounces, chopped
  • Red wine, 2 ounces (just over 1/3 cup)
  • Unsalted butter, 1 tabled spoon


  • Dark chocolate, 8 ounces, melted and tempered

Make the Ganache

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Manufacturing continues to be the lead sector of the economy in Dickinson County, thanks, in part, to Polaris Industries. The company has been turning out Indian motorcycles for more than six months. Part two of a two-part story. 

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Exactly six months after they were unveiled at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Polaris Industries cannot keep up with the demand for Indian motorcycles. The iconic brand is produced exclusively in Spirit Lake. Part one of a two part story.

Photo courtesy of GCN

Formed in 2010 to provide disaster relief to earthquake victims in Haiti, Iowa based Global Compassion Network is expanding its reach. Later this month, ten Safe T Homes built by Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield will be used as housing for missionaries in Kenya. GCN Development Coordinator, Mary Graham says another project is under construction in Peru. She says, "it'll be a multi-purpose center and a Bible camp. We're really excited to bring the Safe T Homes around the world."  Graham says Global Compassion Network also responds to disasters in the U.S.

2013 has been a busy year for Iowa Public Radio's news team. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with reporters and correspondents about some of the most meaningful and challenging stories they covered. It's a "reporter's notebook" edition of the show.

Here is a list of the full features heard on today's show:

January 10 - Undocumented Immigrants at University

Charity Nebbe / The view from "Talk of Iowa" host Charity Nebbe's front door at sunset.

What makes Iowa stand apart from the rest of the Midwest. Tom Morain of Graceland University in Lamoni and Mike Draper of Raygun, the Des Moines-based satirical t-shirt company, sit down with host Charity Nebbe to discuss Iowa unique.

Durrie Bouscaren

Host Ben Kieffer covers a number of topics in a roundup of the week's news including a conversation with Iowa Public Radio's Cedar Rapids reporter Durrie Bouscaren on how Iowa military contractors have been affected by the s

Casey Fleser / Flickr

Garrison Keillor once said, “A book is a gift you can open again and again.”  Host Charity Nebbe talks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, and Mollie Loughlin of The Book Vine in Cherokee about the best books to give as gifts this year.  We've compiled the list below, along with what our reviewers had to say about each book.

Paul Ingram - Fiction

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

While support to reduce prison sentences has been growing, Iowa State University sociologist Matt DeLisi recently testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that for certain offenders this would be a mistake. 

Dean Borg / IPR

A popular Central Iowa restaurant is closing this weekend.  (Saturday night; November 16th)  Iowa Public Radio’s Dean Borg reports the Suburban Restaurant, along U-S Highway Sixty-Nine north of Ames, is what its loyal customers say is an icon of “home-style dining.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa's cultural and economic shift away from the family farm created serious problems for the state.  It has also created opportunities for reinvention and creativity.

Jimmy Emerson / jimmywayne / Flickr

Host Ben Kieffer gets the latest on news from around Iowa.  MidAmerican Energy gives an update on the power outage which left almost 40,000 Des Moines-area residents in the dark. IPR's Joyce Russell discusses changes to the problematic Toledo Juvenile Home.  The DNR has a new report which looks at drought conditions in Iowa.  Also, Dubuque native Brooks Wheelan joins the cast of "Saturday Night Live."

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

A young company from upstate New York, that manufactures packaging materials with agricultural waste is moving into an empty facility in Cedar Rapids. Iowa Public Radio’s Durrie Bouscaren reports.

The old Cryovac building on the Southwest side of Cedar Rapids has been vacant for almost five years, ever since parent company Sealed Air closed the 250-person food packaging division. The announcement came  about six months after the 2008 flood.

But now, new life is coming into the building—in the form of fungus.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Nationally, unemployment rates for veterans are in decline, but the highest rates of joblessness are suffered by soldiers most recently returned from deployment.

Back home, finding a job can be a challenge--whether it be finding the right words for a resume, or getting re-certified for the civilian equivalent of a military job.