Talk of Iowa

Emily Woodbury

The Yes Men have been pulling pranks and engaging in guerilla activism for 20 years. They’ve targeted the World Trade Organization, George W. Bush, big industry, and in their most recent film, they’re battling climate change.

"This latest film is addressed to the people who can actually make change, which is all of us," says Bichlbaum.

Alex / Flickr

It’s called the “makeup tax” – referring to the time, money, and energy spent by those who wear makeup.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion on makeup culture in the U.S. and why the cosmetic industry in the country is worth more than $62 billion.

Joining the show: Gigi Durham, professor and collegiate scholar at the University of Iowa, Rachel Weingarten, beauty historian and author of Hello Gorgeous!: Beauty Products in America '40s-'60s, and Caty Leonetti, a makeup artist from Des Moines.

Rachel Gardner / Flickr

Planting native plants in yards, gardens, fields, and roadsides is more popular than ever before, but maintaining a prairie plot is different from tending a more traditional lawn or landscape.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks about prairie maintenance with Brad Riphagan, a field coordinator with Trees Forever. He and Iowa State University Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron also answer listener questions.

PaulAdamsPhotography / flickr

The history of Iowa isn't flashy, but the state is home to many fascinating stories and hidden treasures.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with Jessica Rundlett of the Iowa State Historical Society to learn about some of Iowa's most interesting hidden gems. Rundlett helped create the new Iowa Culture Mobile App, that can act as your guide on a road trip or reveal some of the historical treasures around at any given time.

Larry Cotlar of Des Moines has been a fixture in Iowa sports broadcasting for many decades.  And with that kind of history, including sports reporting on WHO, Cotlar has a wealth of stories to share. And make no mistake, he's a good story-teller.   In fact, one can expect new stories as Cotlar continues his career in sports as the play-by-play voice of the Drake Bulldogs.

Michael Leland

If  you’re paddling one of Iowa’s rivers, out for a walk, or even driving down a highway the sight of a big white bird passing overhead has become common, but that wasn’t always the case.

On this wildlife day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with wildlife biologist Jim Pease to discuss Iowa’s big white birds. These birds, including pelicans, great egrets and trumpeter swans, almost disappeared from the state, but are once again common.

Arno Wesselink / Iowa Public Radio

If you listen to Talk of Iowa and River to River regularly, you have probably heard Iowa State University psychologist Doug Gentile talk about the science behind video games and the aspect of violence media, video games, and kids; but Doug is also a member of the band, Tom and Doug.

On this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Gentile and bandmate, Tom Florek, a computer programmer in New Jersey. The band’s goal is to take serious issues and talk about them through the lens of comedy.

This hour, we'll look at why at least a couple of million people have paid $99 (and often lots more) to have their DNA tested to find out about their ancestry and in some cases, their family's health traits.   Leading web sites AncestryDNA.com and 23andme.com have had more than a million people each pay the fee to receive long and detailed reports on their ancestry going back usually five generations.

Barcelona IVF / Flickr

In Vitro Fertilization has allowed millions of people to become parents, but the question of what to do with unused frozen embryos can be a difficult one.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks  with a mom who decided to donate her frozen embryos to another couple, and the mom who will receive them.

"I took some time to think about what decision I could live with for the rest of my life," says embryo donor Lydia Fine of Iowa City.

Daughter#3 / Flickr

Millions of people around the world are outraged over the death of Cecil the Lion, killed by a trophy hunting dentist from Minnesota. This is not an isolated case.

"Hunters by and large don't want to feel that their experience is fake, but at the same time if they're paying $50,000 or more there is a lot of pressure on the outfitters to deliver the goods," says author Meg Brown. "I think [the Minnesota hunter] might have relied on his guides and his guides were under a lot of pressure, so they acted illegally to make sure he got the trophy he paid for."

Two years ago Iowa Public Radio was in turmoil. There was a change in leadership and a hole in the budget, a difficult time for an organization that relies on the support of listeners.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Myrna Johnson, Executive Director and Mary Kramer, Chair of Iowa Public Radio’s Board of Directors. According to both leaders at IPR, a lot has changed in the last two years.

Denise Krebs / Flickr

When Allan Johnson asked his dying father what he would like to have done with his ashes, his father told him that it made no difference at all.  That answer left Johnson with a lot of questions and was the starting point for a powerful journey.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

It’s county fair season, which means the quest for blue ribbons is on. During this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes about the vegetable, fruit and flower competitions that bring so many people to the fair.

"You don't know who is exhibiting," says Haynes. "It could be someone who raises vegetables for sale or it could be a 10-year-old."

She says that when she's faced with a table of tomatoes, she looks for those that are ripe, blemish free and firm enough to hold up for a few days. 

Courtesy of Lauren Hanna

When Solon resident Lauren Hanna first saw her dog Clifford taking care of a blind rooster named Hedwig, she didn't believe it; but the two became fast friends.

"Hedwig will get lost out in the yard," Hanna says. "After a night when an animal attacked Hedwig and pulled some of his tail feathers out, Clifford took him under his wing."

"To see it be this ongoing relationship is amazing."

Running to the Fire

Jul 23, 2015
Waldorf College

Tim Bascom, author of the novel "Squatters' Rights" and the essay collection "The Comfort Trap" is out with a new memoir about his time growing up in the 1970's in Ethiopia, "Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia." (University of Iowa Press)

Photo Courtesy of Sally Olsen

Making lace as a hobby isn't all that common, but there is a small yet dedicated group of women in Eastern Iowa who spend their time weaving bobbin lace.

Ruth Lyons is local chair for the International Organization of Lace Incorporated’s Annual Convention which will be hosted in Coralville July 27-August 2. She says making lace is one of the most difficult things she’s ever done.

woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Gym class used to be as simple as learning the rules to a sport, practicing that sport, playing a scrimmage, and moving on. Now, the bar is set a bit higher. Charity Campbell is a physical education teacher at Norwalk Middle School. She says physical education has shifted to instilling habits that go beyond the classroom.

"As we're making that shift with our health crisis today, we're making sure our students are active the entire class. We're giving them a variety of activities to try and do, but not perfect the skills."

GollyGforce / Flickr

Even when the growing season is ideal, there are problems and diseases that crop up in yards and gardens. As Iowa has experienced this year, extra moisture can really set things off.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with horticulturists to find out how to deal with this summer’s common plant maladies, including a problem many Midwesterners have seen - some trees are already changing colors.

Consider the history of the washing machine, in which Iowa played an integral part.  You may think that the Maytag, developed in Newton, was a product of the work of company founder F.L. Maytag.  But retired educator and amateur historian Tom Hoover says Mr. Maytag was really more of a shrewd businessman who could spot genius engineers and innovators when he saw them.

Martin Lewison / Wikimedia Commons

Adventureland hasn’t put in a new roller coaster since the Outlaw in 1993, but that’s changing next summer when the park will debut their newest coaster, “The Monster.”

After more than 20 years since they put in their newest roller coaster in the park, Spokeswoman Molly Vincent says it was time. “The Monster” will replace the beloved log ride.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Education and landing a job are inextricably linked in the minds of most Americans, but after the Great Recession it wasn't as clear whether getting a college diploma meant getting, and keeping, a job.

Saba Ali, associate professor in the College of Education at the University of Iowa, says that while statistics bear out the correlation between college degrees and higher paying employment, the question of whether college prepares students to do their jobs well is more nuanced.

All Iowa Lawn Tennis Club

Wimbledon is known for its iconic bentgrass courts, but London isn’t the only place where you can play on that type of lawn. Mark Kuhn lives on a farm near Charles City and converted a cattle feed lot into a replica of the famous center court at Wimbledon in 2002, 50 years after he first heard of the court on a BBC radio broadcast.

He spoke with Charity Nebbe Friday on the Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa. He says converting the cattle feed lot to a tennis green was quite the task.

Michael Perry is well-known for his humorous memoirs about rural living in Wisconsin. He's turned towards fiction with his first novel, The Jesus Cow, which was inspired by his rural upbringing.

"As a farm kid, I grew up raising cows. We even named one of our cows trigger because she had a mark that looked like a gun. And I just thought, what if someone goes out on Christmas Eve and has a cow who births a calf that has a mark that could be the face of Christ."

Liz West / Flickr

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Patricia O'Conner, word maven and founder of “Grammarphobia.” They discuss the word itself, its interesting etymology, what it means in the US and the UK, and the origin of the phrase “knee high by the fourth of July.”

Carla Kishinami

There are 10 species of woodpeckers in Iowa, and while woodpeckers are the type of birds that are sometimes heard but not seen, their drumming does have a purpose. Wildlife biologist Jim Pease explains that it’s like a song.

Iowa Public Radio

Last year in Iowa the foodservice sector added 2,600 jobs. It’s projected the state will see an additional 12,300 new food service jobs in the coming decade, according to a forecast released recently by the National Restaurant Association.

One in three Iowans found their first job in the restaurant industry according to the Iowa Restaurant Association, and during this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe gets a behind the scenes look at what it takes to create a standard of excellent service in a restaurant.

Courtesy of Sean Sherman

Chef Sean Sherman who is Oglala Lakota was raised on a reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. After he started working in a commercial kitchen, he became interested in incorporating some of the ingredients of his heritage into his food. 

"I had this vision of doing a cookbook just focusing on Lakota foods," he says. "But when I started researching, I wasn't finding the information I was looking for. I had to devise my own education plan and found the basics of Native American food." 

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.

D Sharon Pruitt / Flickr

According to professor of psychology, Marianne Lafrance, our hair plays a bigger role in our lives than we might think. She says there is a psychological impact of having a bad hair day. 

In her research, Lafrance found that a majority of people are inclined to have lower self-esteem on bad hair days.

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. 

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