Katherine Perkins

News/Talk Programming Director

Katherine Perkins has done various jobs at IPR member stations since 1999. She is now Program Director for News/Talk and Executive Producer for Talk Shows. As part of her job she is responsible for managing the sound of the news and information stream on IPR and long-term planning and oversight for Talk of Iowa and River to River. She oversees the broadcast schedule for the news and information stations that are part of IPR. She also continues to produce talk shows, but mostly tries to stay out of the way of the hosts and producers, so they can continue to produce great programs. Before she assumed Executive Producer duties, Katherine was a talk show producer, researching topics, developing content and booking guests for Talk of Iowa and River to River, a role she has performed since 2007. Katherine’s reporting and producing have won statewide and national recognition.  She’s spent her entire career (more than 20 years) in public media, starting as a student reporter and weekend anchor for WSIU in Carbondale, IL

Katherine has a master’s degree in public affairs reporting from University of Illinois – Springfield, formerly Sangamon State University.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio-television from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton face off in the final presidential debate Wednesday night at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is annotating the debate live.

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton face off in the second presidential debate Sunday night at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, is live annotating the debate.

No more putting it off! The 2016 election is less than a month away, so here is Iowa Public Radio's coverage of these last few moments before the big day. You’ll hear interviews, news stories, and analysis from IPR reporters and talk show guests. Studying last-minute has never been easier. 

Join us Mondays in October. 

Episode 1:

Katherine Perkins/IPR

Just off of 2nd Avenue in Cedar Rapids sits an unassuming little carriage house. In a tiny studio apartment that used to be the hayloft, is where the most iconic American painting was created. Artist Grant Wood lived as well as worked in the space from 1924 - 1935, and he created all of his masterpieces there, including "American Gothic," "Young Corn," and "Woman with Plants."

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe toured the studio with Katherine Kunau, associate curator of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Katherine Perkins/IPR

2016 is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Iowa's best-known artist, Grant Wood. To mark the occasion, Go Cedar Rapids, the city's tourism and visitors bureau created "overalls all over." The group commissioned local artists to decorate 25 life-sized, 6-foot fiberglass statues depicting the farmer and daughter from the American Gothic painting. The statues were on display throughout the city this summer, and IPR's Katherine Perkins hunted down a few of them for this slide show.

John Pemble/IPR

Just weeks away from the general election, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump returned to Iowa touting his plan to ease the financial burden of childcare for working families. Also this week, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton took a break from campaigning after being diagnosed with pneumonia. That's not controversial, but how and when her campaign disclosed her health status, certainly was.

A former Ambassador to Tanzania under President George W. Bush and current President of the non-partisan, not for profit International Republican Institute says America's role in the world should be one of engagement.

Ambassador Mark Green was in Iowa this week to speak to the Des Moines Committee on Foreign Relations. He told host Ben Kieffer on River to River that America needs to stand with its allies and help them achieve their goals, stabilize the world, and address conditions like destitution and absolute poverty that can be exploited by extremists.

Michael Luick-Thrams

An Iowa historian, running as an independent in the race for U.S. Senate, says he sees opportunity for someone outside the two-party system in this election cycle. He says every 30 years or so cultures open up, look around, and assess what's going well and what needs to be changed. Michael Luick-Thrams says now is that moment.


Congress returned to the U.S. capitol this week, but prospects for getting much done before the election are dim. In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Drake Political Science Professor and Chair at Drake University and Flansburg Fellow at the Harkin Institute, Dennis Goldford and Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Iowa, Tim Hagle. In addition to unlikely congressional action, they also discuss the future of Fox News, given the departure of Roger Ailes as well as the latest developments in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Thompson Greg, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Public Domain

Your friendly neighborhood herbivores, like deer and rabbits, aren’t opposed to snacking on your garden in the best of times, but they are particularly prone to snacking on ornamental trees and shrubs when the snow flies. 

Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron says the plants that are most vulnerable to deer during the winter months are evergreens like arborvitae and yews, but new plantings of trees and shrubs should also be protected.


As with most issues, republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton see the U.S. role in the world very differently. In this edition of River to River, Host Ben Kieffer talks with Jim McCormick, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College about the foreign policy challenges likely facing the next President of the United States.

John Pemble

The Democratic candidate for U. S. Senate says efforts to improve Iowa’s water quality have been put off too long. Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge owns a cow-calf operation in Monroe County. 725 Iowa waterways are classified as “impaired,” according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Judge says it’s a huge issue.

Daniel R. Blume / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

Objectivity, fairness and balance are values that have long guided journalism. But in our rapidly changing media environment, where affirmation is only a click away, do readers, listeners and viewers really want news that adheres to those values? The leaders of three Iowa journalism schools say they do.

F_A / Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons

Much of gardening is intuitive. Not so with lawn care.

Plants grow in the spring and summer, so you might think that would be the time to re-seed or over-seed your lawn. You would be wrong.

Iowa State University Extension Turf Grass Specialist Nick Christians says the date he circles on the calendar for planting grass seed is August 15th. He says that date gives the seed enough time to grow before a freeze, and cooler temperatures will give it a better chance of competing with other weeds.

Dean Borg / IPR

Powerful winds swept through Eastern Iowa in Sunday morning’s predawn darkness, collapsing a house on four people in Walford and ripping the roof from a Vinton apartment building.

Linn County sheriff’s deputies, responding to emergency calls, found Brett Gioimo, 27, trapped inside a pile of rubble that had been his home. He was transported to a hospital.

Ashlee Shill, 28, and two children aged three and four years old were also in the house when it collapsed, but were not injured.

JFK Presidential Library and Museum / Wikimedia Commons

While she was pregnant with her first child, Libby Buchmeier had been banking her vacation in anticipation of taking time off after the birth. When Buchmeier's daughter arrived 10 weeks early, she had to use the four weeks of paid maternity leave offered by her employer and much of that accumulated vacation time while her baby girl was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Tony Webster, Portland, Oregon / Wikimedia Commons

A landmark piece of legislation that assures public access to government documents turns 50 on July 4th. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation in 1966, without so much as a statement, just avoiding a pocket veto. That reluctance set the stage for a love/hate relationship between presidential administrations and the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.

Public Domain / Wikimedia

The Japanese surrender in WWII was official with the signing of the Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945. But for Jerry Yellin, the war ended with his last combat mission on August 14th, the same day his wing man, 19-year-old Phil Schlamberg from Brooklyn New York disappeared over Japan.

Yellin, who now lives in Fairfield was a Captain in the Army Air Corps and a fighter pilot who flew a P-51. He says he was never wounded and claims he never thought he would die, but he's still haunted by the deaths of every one of the 16 men lost from his squadron of 32. 

David Hawgood / Wikimedia Commons

Heat, light, water and nitrogen… put them together and you get lakes and ponds that are choked with plant growth. The balance between discouraging aquatic unwanteds and encouraging the plant growth that supports aquatic life is a tricky one to manage.

Allen Patillo, aquaculture and fisheries extension specialist says preventing problems is easier than solving them, and that means nutrient management. He says protecting the watershed is the best first step by limiting the nitrogen leaving lawns and fields, and planting prairie or other species that will absorb the runoff.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

The President and CEO of The Family Leader says he’s taking a deep breath today, after the announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz that he’s suspending his campaign for president.

Bob Vander Plaats endorsed Cruz and was a national co-chair for the campaign, although The Family Leader remained neutral in the race for the Republican nomination. Vander Plaats says he’s keeping an open mind about whether to now endorse Donald Trump, but he first wants the chance to speak with the billionaire. 

Michael Coghlan from Adelaide, Australia / Wikimedia Commons

Supporters of a sentencing reform bill approved by the Iowa legislature this session call it a "step in the right direction," despite the fact that there is bipartisan agreement that more steps are needed to address racial disparities in Iowa's criminal justice system.

The bill is awaiting Governor Terry Branstad's signature.

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

First established in 1970, Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22nd every year to celebrate and support the protection of the environment. Has it worked?

Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council, says Earth Day has evolved from raising awareness, to sparking action, to returning results.

"There's an urgency now," says Rosenberg. "People have seen some progress in 46 years, but we do need to see awareness and action year-round."

Peter Tea / Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode

Rock icon Prince died April 21, 2016 at his home and studio in Minneapolis. He was 57.

Since the news of his death, fans from all over the country gathered to play his music, including Des Moines native Corey Taylor, frontman for the bands Slipknot and Stone Sour who played "Purple Rain" and "Little Red Corvette" at Minneapolis' First Avenue Club.

Al Ravenna, World Telegram & Sun

Thurgood Marshall is a familiar name to most, and his work as a Supreme Court Justice is known to many. But his enormous success as an attorney fighting for civil rights is not as prominent in our minds. Author Wil Haygood says that part of his life and legacy laid the groundwork for his Supreme court appointment. 

Payton Chung, Flickr / Wikimedia Commons

When filmmaker Ronit Bezalel first arrived in Chicago as a film student in 1994, all she knew about Cabrini Green was its reputation. "I could see Cabrini from the windows of the 'L,' and people told me to avoid it at all costs. I wanted to know why I couldn't go there."

See-ming Lee / Wikimedia Commons

According to research by the Gallup organization, North Dakotans are happier than Iowans. Or rather, they have a higher state of well-being.

University of Iowa student Emily Roberts met a 19 year old who lives in Afghanistan online, through a language learning exchange. The two became fast friends. 

"Sultana and I were talking and I was asking her questions so she could practice her English. I asked her what her perfect day was," Roberts says. "She said, 'well, I would wake up in the morning and study physics all day.' I thought that sounded like a terrible day, but that's when I knew I had to try to get her here." 

Julie Falk / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders dished out humble pie to pollsters this week, when he claimed victory in Michigan, after no poll showed him leading, or even closing the gap with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Polls showed Clinton leading in the state by double digits in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Iowa State University Political Science Professor Jim McCormick says, as in most elections, it boiled down to economics in a state hit hard by the recession, with companies moving overseas and the challenges facing the automotive industry.

Kari Nousiainen / Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode

On Sunday morning, August 16th, three days after his 41st birthday, Wade Franck was hit by a drunk driver while riding in the Urban Assault Ride in Des Moines. His girlfriend, Jess Rundlett was behind him as the car approached, going very fast.

"It nearly hit me. I remember feeling the mirror whiz by my elbow, and by the time I thought to yell to Wade a warning, he had already been hit and was flying through the air," Rundlett says. "He was hit so hard that his shoes were knocked off and he flew about 30 feet."

Wade Franck died two days later.