Charity Nebbe

Talk of Iowa Host

Charity Nebbe grew up in rural Iowa just outside of Cedar Falls.  She began her career in public radio at WOI Radio in Ames, Iowa when she was a student at Iowa State University and has been working in public radio ever since.  Early in her career she created Chinwag Theater a nationally syndicated public radio show that she produced and co-hosted with well known author Daniel Pinkwater.  She spent ten years at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and in 2010 returned to Iowa. 

Charity is now the host of Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa, heard weekday mornings at 10.  She is also the host of Iowa Ingredient, soon to debut on Iowa Public Television and the author of the children's book “Our Walk in the Woods,” published in 2008. 

Charity's favorite public radio program is On The Media.

Ways to Connect

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Andrew Derocher traveled to Norway in 1996 to study what he thought would be a large, untouched population of polar bears. The country had flat-out banned the commercial hunting of bears as part of the Oslo Agreement 23 years earlier. Derocher, a professor at the University of Alberta and a polar bear biologist, assumed that was enough time for the bears' population and health to rebound. What he found surprised him.

The phrase, “Iowa Cuisine,” may draw some derisive laughter or eye-rolling, but we do have a distinctive food culture in our state. In her new book A Culinary History of Iowa, author Darcy Dougherty Maulsby writes about everything from the infamous pork tenderloin that the state is known for to traditional foods brought by early settler to Iowa like kolaches and kringla pastries. During this Talk of Iowa segment, she talks with host Charity Nebbe. 

When Critters Do "The Shuffle"?

Sep 13, 2016
Gilles Gonthier / Wikimedia Commons

The chill in the air and the traces of color on the trees are sure signs of fall, and so are the large number of raccoons and possums you see along the roadsides. Wild animals all over Iowa are doing the "fall shuffle," and among these animals are the more than three hundred species of birds that can be seen flying across the state.

“A lot of the northern species are down in our area, or have already moved through," says Iowa State University Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease.

They all have similar reasons for heading south towards sunnier skies.

Mr. Atoz/Wikimedia Commons

When Mike McGinn was 11 months old, his parents had him taken to be tested for a peanut allergy. They didn't expect what happened next.

"I was clinically dead for over a minute," he says. "I had the food challenge done, which is giving your child a suspected allergen and seeing what happens. They put a Ritz sandwich cracker in my mouth, and I had an anaphylactic reaction immediately." 

McGinn isn't alone in having a severe peanut allergy. Food sensitivities among children are on the rise. The most common are wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, seafood, soy and eggs. 

When Repairs Need More than Elbow Grease

Sep 9, 2016
US Department of Education / Flickr

A pipe springs a leak. A window won’t close. You’ve got water in your basement. What do you do?

When it comes to home improvement, our expert Bill McAnally thinks that people have gotten a false sense of security from watching TV and YouTube. 

The problem, McAnally says, is that people don’t realize that those shows’ creators “took actually twelve hours to do that half hour show to make everything look good, and they didn’t show all of the things that did go wrong.”  

Liese Coulter, CSIRO

When you plant an apple tree, it's sometimes a long wait for that tree to mature. But when it does you can suddenly find yourself with a lot of apples, which is great for pie making and canning. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Diana Cochran, Iowa State University Extension fruit crop expert about the best ways to harvest and store apples. Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Horticulture expert also joins the conversation to answer listener questions. 

Anna Williams / Iowa Public Radio

Four hundred years after his death in 1616, the plays of William Shakespeare are still performed around the world. With 410 feature-length films and numerous TV retellings of his work, Shakespeare is recognized as the most filmed author of all time and has writing credits on 1100 films. 

None of this would have been possible without one book: the First Folio, which is a collection of Shakespeare's plays that was published in 1623. 

Lindsey Moon / Iowa Public Radio

From the time it opened in 1972, Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus was one of the premier performance spaces in Iowa. That all changed with the historic flooding of Eastern Iowa in 2008 when the auditorium was flooded beyond repair.

Executive Director Chuck Swanson says he remembers the flooding being surreal.  

Aviceda / Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1900s, one of the most populous birds in the world, passenger pigeons, were hunted to extinction in the wild. The very last passenger pigeon, Martha, died in captivity in 1914.   A few years later, the United States enacted the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a treaty that has paved the way for conservation efforts that have saved countless endangered bird species.

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.

chesapeakeclimate / Flickr

Sandra Steingraber is proud of her PhD in biology, her position as Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College and her two arrests. Not necessarily in that order.

While Steingraber, an author, biologist, and activist, has studied science in a lab for decades, she knew she had to do more to effect the change she wanted to see in the environment. So she got herself arrested. Twice.

courtesy Des Moines Register

"This is a great article, just don't read the comment section" is a warning and rebuke sent in emails and attached to links throughout the Internet. But when news organizations like NPR and the Quad City Times decide to shut their comment sections down, an outcry claiming the loss of the Internet's public square usually follows. Racheal Ruble, Lecturer in the Communication Studies Program at Iowa State University, says the need to comment online comes, oddly enough, from a sense of community.


We all want our children to do well in life, and most parents want to do what they can to help. How much is too much help? 

Laura Hamilton, author of the new book "Parenting to a Degree: How Family Matters for College Women's Success," set out to answer this question. She followed a handful of women through their college years and into their 30s to find out how parental involvement helped or hurt them. 

She sorts parents into four categories--including helicopter parents, bystanders, and paramedics--depending on how often parents stepped in to help their children. 

William Anderson

Hundreds of millions of people, young and old, have read the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder in the beloved Little House on the Prairie series.

Michael Hartl / Wikimedia Commons

As summer comes to a close, insects and arachnids have some work to get done, and that makes them easier to see. According to Iowa State University Extension Entomologist Donald Lewis, it's been a good year for spiders. 

"I don't know that it's been a spectacular year, but it's been a good year," he says. 

"Its in the fall of the year when we can see them. Its in the fall of the year when they make their biggest webs, and it's the time of year when dew settles on the webs and makes them most visible." 

Basic Books

Dan Flores, author of ten books on western U.S. history, calls coyotes "an American original," having evolved in North America over five million years ago.  Many people tried to kill them off as late as the 1960s, but they have bounced back and are now found in all states except Delaware and Hawaii.

Courtesy of Jim Peters

Dogs have always had a knack for finding bones. Trained dogs can sniff out explosives, drugs, victims of disasters.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the owners of some canine archeologists who put their bone finding skills to good use. The founders of Samaritan Detection Dogs use trained dogs to help in some unusual ways with archaeological research, conservation work, and human remains cases.

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.

Courtesy of Becky Herman

Iowa’s first cricket farm that’s producing crickets for human consumption is up and running. Becky Herman is a co-founder of Iowa Cricket Farmer, and she says right now, she’s got nearly 200,000 cricket living in blue bins at the farm. She’s a school teacher and said the idea came to her in the classroom.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

After more than 10 years, Sean Moeller is leaving Daytrotter. He says it seems like the right time, and he’s ready for a new project. During this Talk of Iowa interview, he talks with host Charity Nebbe about why he’s moving on, what he’s built, and how Daytrotter began.

Louis / Flickr

From canvas tents to Class C motorhomes, how we camp is changing as technology improves and the outdoor industry adapts military technology for use by the average consumer. 

Recreational camping became a hobby in the United States after the Civil War when wealthy business owners would hire guides to take them up into the Adirondack Mountains. That’s according to Martin Hogue, who teaches landscape architecture in the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York in Syracuse and is author of the forthcoming book Thirtyfour Campgrounds.

Muscatine's Secret to Perfect Melons

Aug 12, 2016


What's the difference between cantaloupe and muskmelon? How many types of melon are there? And how in the world do they grow seedless watermelon?


With Melon season finally upon us and harvest time in full swing, the Hort Gang helps answers those questions, and find out just what makes those melons so irresistibly juicy.


Deb Herbold

Starting today artist Rose Frantzen will be live painting 20 Iowans, two each day of the Iowa State Fair in the Varied Industries Building as part of Iowa State University’s “Your Beautiful Adventure” project.

The History Press

Murders were uncommon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the 1940s, and especially a murder at the very high-end Roosevelt Hotel, sometimes called the Ritz-Carlton of Eastern Iowa.   On Dec. 15, 1948, a hotel chambermaid found aircraft engineer Byron Hattman dead in room 729.  

Putting the 'Wild' Back in Wildlife

Aug 9, 2016

In the early 19th century wild cougars, wolves, and bears once roamed the vast Iowa prairies, but today they're nowhere to be found. Where did they go, and where are they now?

During this hour of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Emeritus Associate Professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University, Jim Pease, about the history of Iowa's native wildlife and some of its oldest predators. 

What's Going On Inside a Firefly?

Jul 29, 2016
More Weeping / Flickr

Watching fireflies as they light up a soft warm night is one of the pure joys of summer. As fireflies dwindle and send their last signals of the season, we find out what all of that flashing is about.

In this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Chairty Nebbe talks with Iowa State University Extension entomologist Donald Lewis about the majesty and fertility of fireflies, the genesis of Hort Day, and the upcoming 30th anniversary celebration. Later, ISU Extension horticulturist Richard Jauron joins the conversation to answer listener questions.

There’s lots of farmland in Iowa, but only about 1 percent of that land changes ownership in any given year. So if you’re a beginning farmer looking to start out, you’ve got to network with people willing to rent you somewhere to farm or work with your family.

Farms have doubled in size in the last 100 years, and the consolidation of farmland makes it that much harder. That’s according to Chad Hart, an economist at Iowa State University.

A new type of yoga festival is coming to Cedar Rapids next month with the aim of empowering people to try new ways of moving their bodies. Ally Thompson is producer for Fields of Yogis, which in addition to hosting yoga workshops, will include classes on burlesque dancing, hula hooping, belly dancing and slacklining. 

Courtesy of Derek Gunn

It's an easy punch line when someone makes a strange noise or makes a random body movement to joke about Tourette syndrome. But for some Iowans, it isn't funny.

Tourette syndrome is a neurological condition that affects body movement, and one out of every 360 children in the United States is diagnosed each year. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Dr. Samuel Kuperman of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics who treats patients with TS and two Iowans who live with the syndrome. 

Civil rights education tends to focus on the past, but if recent events have taught us anything, it's that the work of the civil rights movement isn't finished.

Some teachers in Iowa are working to change the way that we talk about the civil rights movement, and to change the details we include about what happened.