Talk of Iowa

Weekdays at 10 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 9 p.m. on IPR News

Talk of Iowa brings a mix of regular guests and a range of experts to the microphone to discuss what’s happening in Iowa and what makes this a special place to live. Guests include wildlife expert Jim Pease and the Hort Gang on Fridays.

Talk of Iowa is hosted by Charity Nebbe @CharityNebbe. It’s produced by Dennis Reese, Emily Woodbury @EmilyWoodbury, Lindsey Moon @lindseysmoon and Katelyn Harrop @KatelynHarrop. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Sorina Bindea

 It’s early November and winter weather has arrived!

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulture specialists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes about preparing your yard and garden for winter. They talk covering the strawberries, prepping the roses, and getting ready to fend off hungry bunnies. Later in the hour, Jauron and Haynes answer listener questions.

Courtesy of Kevin Burt

Kevin "B.F." Burt, one of Iowa's favorite blues musicians, won the International Blues Challenge last year Since then, he's toured all across the country and has just released a new album featuring some heavy hitters from the nation's blues scene.

Bartlett Tree Experts

Winter can be a sleepy time for gardeners, but it's a great time to start making plans for the trees in your landscape. 

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe gets the lowdown on tree pruning with Jeff Iles, professor and chair of the Horticulture Department at Iowa State University. Later in the hour, Iowa State University horticulture specialist Richard Jauron and DNR Forester Mark Vitosh join to answer listener questions.

Resa Willis spent decades avoiding her high school reunions, but when the 40th reunion rolled around, she caved and decided it was time to go home again, even though her family farm near Little Sioux is long gone.

When Willis went home for that reunion, she brought her British husband  and a terrific sense of humor, and the result is a collection of memories of growing up in far western Iowa called Farmer's Daughter and I Can Prove It.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Willis about her memoir. 

Brad Cramer /

The field of earth science, or geoscience, is expanding, but there aren't enough people qualified for careers in the field.

"The geosciences are facing what’s been termed in industry as 'the great crew change,'" says Brad Cramer, associate professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Iowa. "Starting in the 1980s, we reduced the total number of people getting degrees in this field, and we’re going to be facing a shortage of about 80 to 90 thousand trained geoscientists nationwide."

R. Neil Marshman / Wikimedia Commons

Every year in October, thousands of Iowans pay for tickets to stand in line, waiting to be scared. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Ian Miller of The Slaughterhouse in Des Moines, Mark Fuller of Circle of Ash in Cedar Rapids, and Mark Turczynski of Skellington Manor in Rock Island, join host Charity Nebbe to talk about the care and keeping of Iowa's haunted houses. 

Miller says that he fell in love with the idea of haunted houses when he was a kid. 

Emily Woodbury

A running program at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center is helping inmates develop healthy habits, set goals, and push themselves to new heights. During this Talk of Iowa segment, we run a 5k behind bars and then talk with Mark Powers, president of Corridor Running, who has been involved in building the running club at the prison. 

What would you sacrifice to experience a romantic fairy tale in real life? 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Beth Howard, author of Hausfrau Honeymoon: Love, Language and Other Misadventures in Germany, about adjusting to life in Stuttgart and baking pie as a way to get through grief. Howard explains how learning a new language and making sacrifices in her own career reflects the struggle that many women endure when they are in love. 

Faith Avery

Alexia Arthurs immigrated to New York from Jamaica when she was 12. It was a difficult transition at such a pivotal moment in her life. During this hour, she talks with host Charity Nebbe about her new book How to Love a Jamaican, a collection of short stories which were partly inspired by her own journey. 

Sascha Kohlmann

It was just over a year ago that the #MeToo movement went viral. Many see this as a step forward for women and others who have been victimized, but what does it mean for men?

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a conversation on what #MeToo means to men personally, socially, and culturally.

Iowa State University student Benjamin Whittington, says he's had ongoing conversations with his peers in the year since #MeToo took off.

Suzanne O'Connell / Iowa Gardener Magazine

Planting a cover crop in your garden sounds like a wonderful idea, but for some of us, making it happen might be an unfamiliar challenge.

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, Iowa State University Extension Organic Specialist Kathleen Delate joins host Charity Nebbe to talk cover crops for the garden and to give a preview of the 2018 Iowa Organic Conference. Later in the hour, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist Richard Jauron joins to answer listener questions.

Public Health Image Library

You may love your home now, but is it still going to work for you as you age?




As a Grinnell English professor, Ralph Savarese has been connecting with students through literature for many years. As a father, he also discovered that literature and poetry was a way to connect with his son, David James Savarese, who is a poet and essayist. His son is also autistic and non-speaking.

Rob Kall/flickr


When should you start talking to kids about sexuality, consent, and safe relationships?


“Birth,” says professor Alison Oliver, who teaches courses on human sexuality in the School of Social Work at the University of Iowa.

Courtesy of Reiman Gardens

In search of the perfect pumpkin this fall? Never fear! We've got advice.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens in Ames about how to pick, carve, and create the perfect jack o' lantern this fall. 

Riverhead Books

Casey Gerald has written a memoir, "There Will Be No Miracles Here." (Riverhead Books)  Gerald was the final speaker in this year's Green Room series, a community-wide educational experiment at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City and a University of Iowa Honors Course taught by Dave Gould.


Bowling is the fastet growing high school sport in Iowa, and it's also growing rapidly at the collegaite level. 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Andy Diercks, head coach of the bowling team at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, and Charla Green, Iowa State’s USBC Bowling Association Manager, about the culture surrounding this sport, as well as the scholarship and social benefits for students.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation


It may feel like we’ve jumped from summer straight into winter, but fall is here and the trees are trying to put on a show. 


On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with tree experts Jeff Iles and Mark Vitosh about fall color and how flooding impacts trees and forests.  Later on, horticulturist Richard Jauron joins to answer listener questions.


Courtesy of Sustainable Driftless, Inc.

The glaciers that once covered Iowa provided rich topsoil and a land welcoming to farmers, but in the northeast corner of the state, there is wild, beautiful land untamed by glaciers.

This edition of Talk of Iowa focuses on the Driftless region in Minnesota, Wisconsin, northwestern Illinois, and northeastern Iowa. Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Jacobson and George Howe, the filmmakers behind the new documentary, Decoding the Driftless.

Nick Spanos

Tank and the Bangas, an American funk and soul music group from New Orleans won 2017’s Tiny Desk Contest by unanimous vote, wowing NPR’s music desk with their unique spoken word inspired style. During this Talk of Iowa conversation, Tarriona "Tank" Ball,  who is  lead vocalist for the band, talks with host Charity Nebbe. 

Tank and her band are headlining a Halloween show on Tuesday, October 30 at Codfish Hollow in Maquoketa. 

Wildlife Day: All About Loons

Oct 10, 2018
Michael Meetz

The aquatic bird, the loon, doesn’t spend a lot of time in Iowa, but loons do pass through twice a year as they migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to northern waters and back again.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with wildlife biologist Jim Pease and longtime loon watcher Mike Meetz about these remarkable creatures and what they can tell us about our changing planet.


There is an ever growing conversation about consent in our culture. How do you get consent? Isn’t it awkward to ask for permission in the heat of the moment? Is the conversation about consent about more than just sex?

According to Alison Oliver, a lecturer in the school of social work at the University of Iowa, these are all great questions to consider. She offers this definition: 


Fantasy author Sarah Prineas of Iowa City has a new book for middle-grade readers, "The Lost Books." (HarperCollins)  The book came out this summer and launches an exciting new series from Prineas, the author of the acclaimed "Magic Thief" series. 

Charity speaks with Prineas during this segment and the author reads some passages from "The Lost Books" as well.  We find out the powerful "Lost Books" at the palace library are infesting people with an evil magic and two unlikely friends must figure out who, or what, is controlling the books and their power.

One hundred years ago, more than 93,000 Iowans came down with what was at first a mysterious malady.  Eventually 6,116 died from what became known as the Spanish Influenza, although historian and Iowa native Michael Luick-Thrams says the pandemic actually originated in Kansas.  It went on to kill about fifty million people worldwide that year.

Working the night shift takes a serious toll. In fact, there’s even a term for it - “shift work disorder.”

But many overnight jobs are critical for keeping communities safe, and there’s no doubt they play an important part in the economy. Working overnights can be a way to get your foot in the door career-wise, the pay is sometimes better, and a lot of parents turn to shift work to avoid paying for daycare. 

On this “Iowa Week: After Dark” edition of Talk of Iowa, we explore some unique activities that are made possible by the dark of night. 

First, we drop in on a workshop for people who want to learn to breathe fire, led by fire dancer Brittney Marine.

Next, producer Emily Woodbury talks with a group of cyclists who prefer to bike Iowa’s gravel roads by the dark of night. Charity Nebbe talks with Andrea Cohen, who works for World of Bikes in Iowa City and organizes these gravel road, night time rides. 

Maurício Mascaro/Pexels


Whether it’s a cocktail under city lights or a beer and darts in your local watering hole, it’s Friday night, and Talk of Iowa is ready to hit the town.

On this special Iowa After Dark episode of Talk of Iowa, we’re taking a look at nightlife across Iowa. We start in Des Moines' oldest gay bar, The Blazing Saddle, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this weekend, before hitting downtown Iowa City with the nation’s first Nighttime Mayor, Angela Winnike.


Ryan Hallock/Flickr

We're living in a world that increasingly operates 24 hours a day, due to forces of globalization. What does that mean for us and our working hours? Our leisure time? 

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, we talk about the reasons we're working more hours than ever before and when and why we started to see businesses open all night long. 

To start the show, Cynthia Freidhoff, whose father founded Ross' Restaurant in Bettendorf, one of the first 24 hour diners in the state, joins host Charity Nebbe. 

USFWS/Ann Froschauer


Feel like braving the dark? Those who head outside after nightfall are sure to be rewarded with natural sights and sounds unlike anything available during daylight hours.


Tim Sackton/flickr

With the changing leaves and the cooling temperatures, it’s time to start harvesting late season produce.

It can be difficult to know when to harvest crops like sweet potatoes and winter squash, but Iowa State University Horticulturist Ajay Nair recommends paying close attention to the recommended harvest dates when you plant. He also says it’s very important to prepare your produce for storage.