Katherine Perkins

News/Talk Programming Director

Katherine Perkins has done various jobs at IPR member stations since 1999.  She is now Executive Producer for Talk Shows.  As part of her job she is responsible for long-term planning and oversight for Talk of Iowa and River to River.  She continues to produce the weekly political discussion and legislative shows hosted from the Iowa Statehouse.  But, mostly she 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 (almost 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.

Katherine’s favorite public radio program is This American Life.

Photo by John Pemble

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. River to River host Ben Kieffer spoke with him Thursday, November 19 in advance of a campaign trip to Iowa City.

BK: Senator Paul, welcome to our program.

RP: Glad to be with you.

Reese Erlich

There are interviews you spend hours sweating over, and then there are situations like the one faced by award-winning foreign correspondent Reese Erlich on a recent trip to Jordan. That's where he interviewed Abu Qatada, once described as Osama Bin Laden's right-hand-man in Europe before he was deported from the UK to Jordan in 2013.

Erlich says he had 20 minutes to prepare. The interview was hastily arranged by another of Al Qaeda's top leaders. Erlich says Qatada wanted to talk about human rights violations by the Assad regime in Syria, and by the U.S.

John Pemble / IPR

Think for a moment about the person with whom you share the least in common, when it comes to your beliefs. Now, imagine having coffee with that person, not just once, but many times over a period of two years.

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q & A between audience members and Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Iowa State Fair Soapbox on August 22, 2015.           

All right good morning. No, no, speech from me this morning. I want your questions. I want all twenty minutes to be your questions, not you hearing some speech from me so let's get your questions…

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and South Carolina senior Senator Lindsey Graham at the Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

R: Well, senator, welcome.
G: Glad to be here. Eat more bacon.

R: Thank you for bringing Charleston, South Carolina, weather to Des Moines today. Or at least something close.
G: Come to Charleston. It's good.
R: Let's get started.
G: Okay.

John Pemble / IPR

R: Governor Bush, welcome.
B: Good to be here.
R: You know, a variety of folks are saying and talking about this being your first trip to Iowa, but I think it's not...
B: No.
R: And you came here often when your father ran for president and when your brother did. Why don't you talk a little bit, first, about those experience?

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and Texas Senator Ted Cruz at the Iowa Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

R: Well, Senator, welcome. It's a little bit warmer than it was two weeks ago when you were here. Thanks for bringing the warm weather with you.
C: Well, I try to bring that up from Texas.
R: Why don't we get started?
C: Great.

John Pemble

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum at the Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.


The battle over who will become the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is "probably the most important thing happening in politics today." That's according to Dave Andersen, assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University.

Metal Chris / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Many decry the coarsening of our political discourse. History demonstrates that politics has always been a "contact sport." But over the years Iowa's social capital has allowed Iowans to disagree without being disagreeable.

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.

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. 

John Pemble / IPR

The latest Iowa Poll, conducted by Selzer and Company and published in the Des Moines Register, shows billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field, with neurosurgeon Ben Carson the second favorite among likely republican caucus-goers.

Nancy Hugo, CKD / Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

If you're thinking of selling your home, or buying a fixer upper, it's hard to know which remodeling projects will bring a good return on that investment. Home Improvement expert Bill McAnally suggests contacting a home inspector before deciding where to start. He says knowing what a home inspector is likely to point out to a potential buyer may change your focus completely. "If you're going to sell it, you have to fix [problems] that you know about, or that has to be in a disclosure statement." And, obviously, issues with the safety of the home trump any cosmetic concerns.

teachernz, licensed under Creative Commons / Flickr

If you see lumps or weird shapes on the leaves of your oak tree, don't panic, says Laura Jesse, director of the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic at Iowa State University. She says it's likely a gall, which is harmless to the plant.

"They're the most interesting shapes," says Jesse, who calls them "beautiful." Jesse also says if you break them open you can usually find a wasp larvae that began feeding on the tree and prompted it to grow a gall around the insect.

John Pemble / IPR

As former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turns over her personal email server to the FBI amid allegations that she sent or received classified information through personal email accounts, it's too early to tell whether the story will hurt her presidential aspirations.  That's according to Dianne Bystrom, Director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and Kelly Winfrey, a Lecturer in Leadership and Communication Studies at the Catt Center. 

Tannaz / Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons

Fresh herbs are one of the most versatile plants available to home gardeners. Iowa State University Extension Program specialist in Value-added Agriculture, Linda Naeve, says they're an easy way to add color and texture to the landscape without the risk of a plant getting too big. The exception to that rule is mint, which is very aggressive. Naeve says it should be planted in a container, and then added to the garden, to help keep it in check.

Jef Nickerson / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

There are the remarks, as delivered, by former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee at the Iowa Democrats' Hall of Fame Dinner, July 17, 2015.

Don Graham / Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons

President Obama unveiled his Clean Power Plan this week. The plan sets the first-ever EPA standards on power plant emissions and requires a 32% reduction in those emissions over the next 15 years. It also seeks to boost renewable energy sources.

2016 Republican presidential hopefuls reacted negatively to the plan. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called it "catastrophic," while former Florida Governor Jeb Bush described it as "irresponsible and over-reaching." New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called it an example of "overregulation" that would "kill American businesses and jobs."

United States Senate - http://www.webb.senate.gov/newsroom/official_photo.cfm. / Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jim_Webb_official_110th_Congress_photo.

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former US Secretary of the Navy, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Dinner, July 17, 2015.

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at the Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

Jaknouse / English Language Wikipedia/Creative Commons

As the work begins to replant Iowa's ash trees due to destruction by the Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, the Chair of the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University Jeff Iles says we need to think about maintaining trees over the long term. Iles says as municipalities begin the task of replacing trees, they need to budget for ongoing maintenance. 

And EAB isn't the only good reason to replant.  It may also be needed as tree populations age.  Iles says individuals and volunteers can make a big difference in this effort, as most city budgets are tight.

Clay Masters / IPR

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley as he opened his Iowa campaign headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa on May 30, 2015.

John Pemble / IPR

These are the remarks, as delivered, by Donald Trump in his first visit to Iowa after declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president, June 16, 2015.

TechShop / Flickr, Licensed under Creative Commons

Iowa's unemployment rate of 3.8% reflects nearly full employment across the state. But there are many industries that need workers, and that demand is reflected in the Iowa Hot Jobs report. Deputy Director of Iowa Workforce Development and the State Labor Market Information Administrator, Ed Wallace says jobs in the biosciences, health care, education, and agriculture continue to grow. The challenge lies in making sure those looking for work know which jobs are in most demand.

Penguin Random House

Dr. David Casarett was a skeptic when he set out to write Stoned. But in his quest to determine what medical evidence exists for medical marijuana, the palliative care physician found more questions than answers. Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about the book and the research needed to answer those questions.

Casarett and listeners tell stories of how cannabidiol oil has helped children with seizure disorders.  He explains what science knows about the compounds found in cannabis, and the most effective means of extracting and administering those compounds. 

John Pemble / IPR

This is the Q and A between Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at the Ag Summit March 7, 2015 in Des Moines.

R: Good morning, Governor Christie.
C: Good morning, Bruce.
R: Thanks for coming.
C: I’m happy to be here.
R: How about we get started?
C: Sure, let’s do it.

John Pemble / IPR

These are the remarks, as delivered, by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner, May 16, 2015.

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally June 14, 2015 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

John Pemble / IPR

These are remarks, as delivered by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat, at the Story County Democrats' Soup Supper, February 21, 2015.