Clare Roth

Talk Show Producer

Clare Roth started working at Iowa Public Radio as a seasonal news reporter in 2012. After getting her bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to IPR as a talk show producer, where she has a particular passion for education, sociology, and science at large.

Iowa born and bred, in the past she’s ventured past state lines to work at Minnesota Public Radio and The Onion and is a nationally ranked public speaker. When she isn’t making radio, she reads anything she can get her hands on, lurks around the Midwestern comedy scene, and explores as many Iowa landscapes as weather will permit.

Clare’s favorite public radio programs are Planet Money and How to Do Everything.

Ways To Connect

Chris Zerbes / Flickr

More than half of Iowa's adults favor legalizing fireworks, according to a poll by the Des Moines Register. Despite the majority, lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would legalize anything beyond sparklers during this year’s session.

Senator Jeff Danielson notes that drafted legislation stipulates some of the strongest local control of any bill he’s seen regarding fireworks.

“We allow possession, but the law says you can’t fire them off. I believe that it's time to change Iowa’s law in a limited, responsible way that allows both possession and use,” says Danielson.

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in all 50 states.

The ruling comes on the heels of one of the fastest changes in public opinion in U.S. history. Author Tom Witosky, author of Equal Before the Law, says it’s been a quick sea change.

John / Flickr

In September, master gardeners from all over the world will gather in Council Bluffs, Iowa to share ideas and learn from each other. On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Iowa State horticulturists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes about the International Master Gardener’s Conference and about what to plant if you don’t want to plant hostas.

David Clarke / Flickr

Last week, the Pope released an encyclical asserting climate change is a moral issue. Father Bud Grant, Catholic priest and professor of environmental ethics at St. Ambrose University, says the message of the encyclical is one of interconnectedness.

"That word 'related' is one of the most frequently used words in the entire document. And that means that if we tug at the environmental thread, we tug at the economic thread and the spiritual thread. They're all wound up together in that seamless garment."

Jasperdo / Flickr

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government incarcerated 110,000 Japanese Americans in interment camps. When the war ended and those Americans were allowed to go home, the thousands of barracks that they called home were left behind. The government sold them to any one who could move them, often for just a dollar a piece.

Dhammika Heenpella / Flickr

Home improvement expert Bill McAnally often urges people to fix problems in their homes immediately. With roofs, though, sometimes it pays to wait.

"Let's say it isn't leaking, but it's looking pretty bad. Some people say 'I really need a new roof.' Looks-wise, yea. But if it's not leaking, then stretch it out as much as you can."

He says most people in Iowa never get full usage out of their 75-year shingle warranties because of the storms common to the region. 

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

This summer at camps across Iowa, some kids are exploring the outdoors, some kids are crafting art projects, and some kids are designing hovercraft.

At the University of Iowa's Belin Blank Center, a group of preteens are working with Mark Ginsberg of M.C. Ginsberg Objects of Art to make working hovercrafts with Computer Aided Design and 3-D printing. Ginsberg says this is the first step towards the technology of the future.

Photo by Tom Jorgensen / University of Iowa

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa-native, Ambassador Ron McMullen. He shares stories from his service in Burma, South Africa, Fiji, South Africa, and Eritrea. He also talks about the importance of keeping engaged with the world, something he hopes to impart on the University of Iowa students he teaches.

courtesy of Dean Bakopoulos

Sex, love, loss, longing, midlife crises, and midnight runs to Kum & Go: a steamy summer in Grinnell, Iowa is the setting for the new novel Summerlong. For his third novel, Dean Bakopoulos, writer-in-residence at Grinnell College, wrote a story that hits close to home.

"I’m a fiction writer but I’m a fiction writer who really mines my personal life for material. [...] My imagination is borne from the anxious mess of personal demons. When you're that type of writer, you really do have to write about where you’re at, at that moment."

Courtesy of Molly Iverson

When Abbey Almelien Banh was diagnosed with sarcoma, she knew she had a very small chance of recovery. But that didn't stop her from making the most out of her last five years. She took the time to travel with her husband Luong Banh, camp with her family, and keep her loved ones updated on her progress through a blog.

Courtesy of Tanya Keith

Though coverage of FIFA has been negative, run through with charges of corruption, fans at the FIFA Women's World Cup are trying to focus on the positive.

"I think most people are relieved that FIFA is finally getting called out on their corruption, [due to] the scandal we all kinda knew was taking place but no one could prove. Among the American fans, it's kind of funny, because there's no small amount of pride that it was the US Department of Justice that brought the charges against FIFA."

Don Shall / Flickr

When looking at Iowa waterways, it's easy to overlook the furrier creatures--otters, mink, muskrats, and of course, beavers.  

"They are engineers, there's no question about it," says Jim Pease, wildlife expert.

Facilities management arborist at the University of Iowa, Andy Dahl, decided to take advantage of that engineering instinct.

"What they've actually done is help us open the vistas. They are almost the perfect employees," says Dahl. "They work the night shift, they don't call in sick; they're so efficient I'm afraid they may jump over me in the org chart."

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Economics teachers across the country use blackboards and chalk to teach people about supply and demand. The Planet Money team hands out candy to seventh graders.

Planet Money, a twice weekly podcast from NPR, sprung from an episode of This American Life that explained the subprime mortgage crisis. For the past six years, they’ve covered everything from the history of light to toxic assets, all to make the economy and finance more understandable to the average person.

Sam 17 / Flickr

Freda Sojka, CEO of Soothing Solutions, created Bug Soother in the wake of the 2008 floods, when gnats were bothering her five-month-old grandson. She had no idea that less than a decade later it'd be distributed throughout the world.

"If I'd known all that at the beginning, I might have named it differently. We're pretty stuck with the name now," she said with a laugh.

This Spring, Bug Soother launched in the UK. And Sojka is looking at other countries to introduce Bug Soother to; Panama is next on the list.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says the government’s top priorities in the ongoing avian flu outbreak are safe clean-up of infected sites and indemnity payments for affected farmers. But right behind those, he says, is a need to better understand what has happened.

"The next thing that is important in that list of priorities is to complete the epidemiology study, which is the study on how did this disease get here in the first place and how did it spread after it got here?"

Brookings Institute / Flickr

When Democratic Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy, Hillary Clinton gained some competition. Sanders, who had only 8% support from Democrats in an April Quinnipiac poll, is now polling at 15%. 

While some believe Sanders' run may be harmful to Clinton's campaign, Dennis Goldford, Professor of Political Science and the Flansburg Fellow for The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University, says the move could bode well for her.

Paul VanDerWerf / Flickr

The idea was deceptively simple: create a small structure where people could leave books they were okay parting with and find new literature, like a take-a-penny-leave-a-penny jar, just with books. Less than a decade after the first was erected, 20,000 have sprung up in 75 countries. Margret Aldrich, a little free library devotee, says the concept feels weird at first blush.

First-time Representative David Young, a Republican representing Iowa’s third district, stated in his campaign he wanted to ‘dismantle’ Obamacare. Now a looming Supreme Court decision could work towards that goal, by cutting Obamacare insurance for millions of Americans living in states without their own health exchanges.

Pan American Health Organization

Earlier this month, a team of researchers released a study that found one major difference between life and death for extremely preterm infants—those born from 22 to 26 weeks of gestation—was how aggressively the doctors attempted to save the babies’ lives.

Al Madrigal / (c) 2015 Steffen Schmidt

Clinton broke her media silence earlier this week when she took questions from reporters in a bicycle shop in Cedar Falls. Though she's had a consistent presence in Iowa, analyst Steffen Schimdt says the campaign has yet to truly kick off.

"There is no Clinton campaign. What there is is these little weird visits to New Hampshire and Iowa, meeting with people in bicycle shops with very carefully hand-picked crowds of individuals who are favorable to Hillary Clinton. These are not open events, they're not big events, she's not rolling out big themes."

littlemalba / Flickr

Sigal Barsade, professor of management in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, says the secret ingredient to a happy workplace is cheaper than free beer or ping pong tables--it's love.

"In the unit in which there was more affection, caring, compassion and tenderness among employees, we found there was greater employee engagement, better job satisfaction and teamwork, less employee withdrawal, less burnout, and less hard measures on absenteeism."

John Tann / Flickr

If you head out for a hike, there's a decent chance you'll return with a hitchhiker. All three types of ticks in Iowa are active right now. 

Donald Lewis, an entomologist with Iowa State University extension, speaks with host Charity Nebbe about ticks. ISU Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron and DNR district forester Mark Vitosh also join the conversation.

John Pemble

What do honey bees, baseball fields and coin-operated laundries have in common? This year, their owners are being considered as possible recipients of new state tax breaks.

On this legislative day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer is joined by lawmakers and IPR correspondent Joyce Russell to discuss various tax bills being debated at the capitol.

Senator Joe Bolkom, a Democrat from Iowa City and Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, also talk about what could be done with any state budget surplus, including giving it back to taxpayers.

neoterrar / Flickr

Cedar Rapids hasn't always been known as a food mecca, but the chefs competing in next week's Battle of the Chefs say the city's been moving steadily towards more fresh, refined, and interesting taste profiles.

"Ten years ago, where would people eat? They'd go to Iowa City or they'd go over to Mount Vernon to the Lincoln Cafe, because we had very few places. But now we have people coming up from Iowa City and from   different parts of eastern Iowa to eat in Cedar Rapids," said Tony Bata, owner of Bata's Restaurant.

Orser67 / Wikimedia Commons

With the 2016 presidential race picking up speed, Iowa continues to play a major role in the strategies of many candidates vying for nomination.

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with Donna Hoffman and Chris Larimer, Associate Professors of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa. The pair discussed a book chapter they are working on that breaks down Iowa's historic swing state status.

A central part of the chapter looks into how counties around the state identify politically.

Ray Bodden / Flickr

A bill that would restrict the use of eminent domain for the proposed Bakken Crude Oil Pipeline and the Rock Island Clean Wind Energy Transmission Line was advanced by Iowa House and Senate subcommittees last week.

The proposed bill would mandate private, out-of-state companies acquire 75% of the land needed for their projects voluntarily from land owners before gaining the right of eminent domain from the Iowa Utilities Board. Eminent domain is the government's right to appropriate private land for public use, with compensation.

TBEC Review / Flickr

A national survey confirms that e-cigarettes are increasingly popular among teens. Between 2013 and 2014, usage tripled among high school students. The Centers for Disease Control estimates there were 2.4 million e-cigarette youth users last year, and according to this year’s Iowa Youth Survey, e-cigarettes have overtaken regular cigarettes as a preference of Iowa teens.

Director for Tobacco Control and Lung Health for the American Lung Association in Iowa Megan Aucutt says that makes sense given what she’s seen and heard from Iowa teachers.

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Alec Whitters was in his last year of dental school when he dropped out and decided to make a change.  

“Both my parents are doctors. I was in my seventh year of college, and I decided to drop out and go after this idea,” he says. “Everybody thought I was nuts.”

His decision turned out to be a worthwhile gamble. Whitters is a co-founder and CEO of Higher Learning Technologies, a test preparation company that’s trying to make it easier for students to study for big exams.

City of Concord NC / Flickr

The Arc of Southeast Iowa is in the process of building an inclusive playground in Iowa City. And though federal guidelines instituted in 2014 require newly built playgrounds to be ADA accessible, "accessible" and inclusive can be two very different things. Jorja Ludeking is one of the leaders on the project at the Arc. She says ensuring playgrounds are welcoming and accomodating to people of all abilities is essential.

Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa was only the third state in the nation to legalize same sex marriage, but it was the first to do it unanimously.

Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen wrote “Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality.” Witosky says the unanimity of the decision and Iowa’s moderate reputation helped sway national public opinion towards marriage equality. He points out that polls started shifting significantly in favor of same sex marriage in 2009, the year after the Varnum vs. Brien decision.

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