Talk of Iowa

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. 

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.”

Linda MacBride

Winter can be a wonderful time to see wildlife and for some of the best viewing you don't even need to risk getting cold.   On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Jim Pease, Emeritus Associate Professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University about attracting Iowa's winter birds to your yard with feeders and bird baths. Pease discusses the types of birds which become most prevalent in  during the season, where to place bird feeders, what kinds of feed to use, and even gives some statistics on just how much people love these birds.

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 Museum of Danish America

When Danish immigrants settled in Western Iowa in the 19th century, they created two very different towns three miles apart: Kimballton and Elk Horn. Kimballton was composed of 'Happy Danes' and Elk Horn of 'Holy Danes.'

"One camp are the followers of a Danish theologian, N.F.S. Grundtvig" says Tova Brandt, curator of the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn. "He embraced a holistic approach to Danish faith and culture and community and he argued that those things couldn't be and shouldn't be separated." 

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Jan Weismiller and Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and Nancy Simpson-Brice,  associated with Book Vault in Oskaloosa about their favorite books of the year and recommendations for gifts this holiday season.

Paul’s Picks

Finials: A View of Downtown IC by Marybeth Slonneger

Kelly Cookson / Flickr

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa Charity Nebbe speaks with Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist, and Cindy Haynes, Associate Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University about caring for plants indoors during the winter months.  They discuss holiday plants, traditional house plants and outdoor plants that can be over wintered in the home.  Bringing plants in from outdoors can pose some challenges.  

Steve Snodgrass / Flickr

Daniel Finney has struggled with depression for nearly two decades. In that time, his doctors prescribed the two stalwarts in the depression treatment stable: talk therapy and prescription drugs. When he went through a major depressive episode earlier this year, however, his doctor suggested transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

Len Matthews / Flickr

In high school, Nick Seymour never saw himself doing stand-up, but once when he got the opportunity to take a class in comedy at Iowa State, he figured it'd be a fun way to spend a semester.

"At the beginning, I didn’t know there’d be a performance associated with it. The teacher shocked us all the first day with that information. Everyone freaked out for awhile."

Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer

For 65 years Charlie Brown has been getting kites stuck in trees, missing footballs, and getting hit by baseballs.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Karen Johnson, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, about why Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang still resonate with audiences, as well as the enduring legacy of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, 15 years after his death.

"He was always authentic," says Johnson about Schulz. "He said to many people, 'To know me is to read the strip; everything I am goes into that strip.'"

If you could pick just one food to represent Iowa, what would it be?  In his new book, "The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food," Mathew Frank has selected a dish for every state in the union.  We talk with Frank about his culinary map of the United States and the food he feels represents Iowa, the Loosemeat Sandwich.

There was a time when it was a rare treat to spot a white-tailed deer in Iowa.  That treat is no longer rare.  Today, it's our monthly Wildlife Day on Talk of Iowa, with wildlife biologist Dr. Jim Pease of Ames.  Jim tells us about the history of deer in the Hawkeye State, their place in the environment and our complicated relationship with them.

jacki-dee / Flickr

Iowa may have had a mild fall so far, but winter is just around the corner. With that in mind, it's time to prepare yards and gardens for the arrival of winter.

Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs at Reiman Gardens, joins host Charity Nebbe to discuss best practices for winter readiness. Steil provides some tips for care of strawberries, asparagus, perennial care, diseased plants, and even how to take care of the leaves covering lawns.

John Pemble

The National Endowment for the Arts was created in 1965 under the Johnson Administration. NEA Chairman Jane Chu has been in office for a little over a year, and during that time she has traveled to 30 states. Chu is currently in Iowa, her first visit to the state as Chairman. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Chu about the NEA's current focus, the division's 50th anniversary, and whether we should be encouraging young people into a career in the arts.

Mark Mathison of Iowa State University unearthed the fossil of a skull that belonged to a fox more than 4 million years ago in Ethiopia.

The fossil has now been named Vulpes mathisoni, or “Mathison’s fox” after it's finder. In this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Mathison about the discovery, what it was like to unearth and research a fossil skull among the culture and politics of several Ethiopian tribes, as well as some of his other adventures as a geologist.

Univ. of Colorado

Nervous about how your son or daughter will do at the big university?  Now, what if she found this assignment on her syllabus: "Understand Batman as an historically and culturally specific character," with one lecture called "Batman: The Long Halloween."  Or how about this assignment: "Does Harry Potter have a role in shaping your decision-making?"  Or this essay assignment: "Loyalty and Wit: Friendship and the Formation of Dumbledore's Army."

Lori L. Stalteri / Flickr

Growing plants organically, whether done on acres of farmland or a backyard garden, can be tricky work. Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins Host Charity Nebbe on this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa. Delate explains what cover crops are and how they can improve soil quality by infusing it with nitrogen and carbon and preventing soil erosion, nitrate leaching, and ground water pollution. Delate also discusses the uses and benefits of composting.

Open Road Media

Iowan Ray Young Bear has been publishing poetry since 1968.  His new book, "Manifestation Wolverine" (Open Road Media),  is a comprehensive collection of his work, previously published and new--work that draws on ancient Meskwaki lore and modern popular culture.  He says his poetry is a link to the writings of his grandfathers.

Alfred A. Knopf

Jane Smiley, who grew up near St. Louis, graduated from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and taught English at Iowa State from 1981 to 1996, has completed her "Last Hundred Years" literary trilogy with the final volume "Golden Age" (Alfred A.

Courtest of 261 Fearless

Runner and author Kathrine Switzer first made headlines in 1967 when the Boston Marathon race commissioner yanked her from the course by her sweatshirt. Today, she’s written three books and tours the world spreading her message that anybody can run a marathon. She was keynote speaker at the IMT Marathon in Des Moines’ pasta dinner which took place Sunday, October 18.

She says it was great to see so many women running the marathon in Des Moines given the fact that women have really only recently been able to enter those races.

Terry Gilliam spent the first 12 years of his life in Minnesota, but he would go on to become the one of the most beloved entertainers in British history.

He is one of the founding members of Monty Python and the man responsible for the art and animation that defined the look of the group.  He has a new memoir out, called Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memoir.

When asked how he feels about imitators, or people who have been inspired by his work, Gilliam says he feels proud.

Gregory Chittim / Flickr

Not long ago air conditioners were running full blast, but alas, winter is coming. On this edition of Talk of Iowa, home improvement expert Bill McAnally joins host Charity Nebbe to talk heating and cooling alternatives such as the mini split heat pump, and he gives some advice about putting on storm windows to keep the cold outside. 

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