Clay Masters

Morning Edition Host

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter. He also covers environmental issues.

Clay joined the Iowa Public Radio newsroom as a statehouse correspondent in 2012 and started hosting Morning Edition in 2014. Clay is an award-winning multi-media journalist whose radio stories have been heard on various NPR and American Public Media programs.

He was one of the founding reporters of Harvest Public Media, the regional journalism consortium covering agriculture and food production in the Midwest. He was based in Lincoln, Nebraska where he worked for Nebraska’s statewide public radio and television network.

He’s also an occasional music contributor to NPR’s arts desk.

Clay’s favorite NPR program is All Things Considered.

Damien Jurado will admit he has a bit of an addictive personality. In the past two months while stuck at home in Washington state, he's channeled that energy into songwriting. Jurado says he's already written three distinctly different albums in isolation, and that's on top of What's New, Tomboy, the record he already had in the can and that just came out on May 1.

"I don't know what moderation is," he explains.

Grant Gerlock / IPR file

Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters on Thursday that soon any Iowan who wants a test for COVID-19 will be able to get one. This comes as even more Iowa businesses are reopening on Friday and as hundreds of new confirmed coronavirus cases are reported daily. 

The state hit 400 known deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday.

"There is a societal cost to just shutting down and not realistically moving forward through this pandemic," Gov. Reynolds said during her Thursday press conference.

Screenshot / Iowa PBS

The four Democrats running to face Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst debated for the first time Monday night. The November race is looking to be both competitive and expensive. Sen. Ernst hopes to get a second term representing Iowa, and Democrats see the seat as a possible pickup in November as they try to take the majority in the Senate.

Madeleine King / IPR File

In many Iowa counties, businesses and organizations are now deciding when and how to reopen. Summer festivals and events organizations are making decisions around whether or how they will operate, and Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced that she is "shifting focus" of Iowa's coronavirus response.

Follow the latest Iowa coronavirus news here, where we're posting news updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds, other state agencies, counties and businesses for the week of May 17-May 23.

Campaign Facebook pages

Iowa has a primary election on June 2, and Iowa Public Radio is featuring profiles of the Democrats who are running to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in November.

This week, IPR has featured profiles of the four Democrats running. UNI Political Science Professor Chris Larimer says the winner of the race will have to run a very expensive campaign and the race is looking more competitive than it had earlier this year.

kim reynolds
Olivia Sun / The Des Moines Register via AP, pool

On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds will continue to reopen parts of the economy that were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On May 1, restaurants in 77 Iowa counties were allowed to partially reopen. Now, restaurants in all 99 counties can open their doors to a limited number of customers. So can salons, tattoo parlors and barber shops across the state that have been closed since late March.

John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa has a primary election on June 2, and Iowa Public Radio is featuring profiles of the Democrats who are running to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst in November.

Real Estate Executive Theresa Greenfield is one of the four candidates seeking her party’s nomination. Greenfield ran in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race in 2018 but dropped out after she found out that one of her campaign staffers falsified signatures on her nominating petition.

John Pemble / IPR File

Iowa has a primary election on June 2, and Iowa Public Radio is featuring profiles of the Democrats who are running to take on Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst in November.

Eddie Mauro is a businessman and former coach and teacher who lives in Des Moines. Mauro ran unsuccessfully in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race in 2018 but lost to now-Congresswoman Cindy Axne.

Kimberly Graham's campaign facebook page


Iowa has a primary election on June 2, and Iowa Public Radio is featuring profiles of the Democrats who are running to take on Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst in November.

Kimberly Graham is an attorney for kids of participants in Family Treatment Court. This is the first time she's run for office. 


AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Iowa has a primary election on June 2, and Iowa Public Radio is featuring profiles of the Democrats who are running to take on Republican U.S. Senator Joni Ernst in November. 

Mike Franken is a former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral.  The Sioux Center native now lives in Sioux City, and is making his first run for political office.  

The 77 counties being allowed to partially reopen May 1 make up most of western, north central and south central Iowa.
Office of the Governor

Seventy-seven counties in Iowa are partially re-opening business in the midst of this pandemic on Friday. Iowa's Governor Kim Reynolds set the scene Thursday during her press conference.

"COVID-19 is here to stay and we must learn to live with it," the Republican governor told reporters.

The coronavirus continues to drive unemployment numbers higher in Iowa. Last week, 28,827 workers filed initial claims for unemployment assistance, including people who work in Iowa but live in another state.

John Pemble / IPR file

Early voting begins Thursday for Iowa’s June 2 primary election. Election officials are encouraging Iowans to vote from home to reduce the risk of spreading the new coronavirus. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office is mailing about 2 million absentee ballot request forms to active registered voters.

kim reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

A top state public health official said Thursday Iowa is starting to “flatten the curve,” but some infectious disease experts do not see the rate of COVID-19 infections slowing in the state.

The goal of social distancing is to flatten the curve, or avoid a spike in infections, so the health care system isn’t overwhelmed.

Michael Leland / IPR

School buildings will remain closed through at least the end of the month because of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, school districts must decide how they’ll go forward teaching Iowa students while they stay home.

Science in HD / Unsplash

It’s known that there’s a shortage of COVID-19 testing in Iowa, but how does that factor into the state’s death count? Here's what to know about how Iowa is counting deaths from COVID-19.

Mark Zaleski / AP Photo

As you've probably heard, singer-songwriter John Prine passed away Tuesday, after being critically ill with COVID-19.

Since his first album was released in 1971, Prine's gentle humor and way with words have been an inspiration to many. Some members of IPR's staff each picked a favorite John Prine song to share.


Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday ordered Iowa K-12 schools to remain closed through April 30 and asked school districts to submit plans for offering instruction during part of that time.

She originally recommended on March 15 that schools close until April 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But state officials this week said Iowa could reach the peak of new coronavirus cases in two to three weeks.

Clay Masters / IPR

In normal times, people can take for granted essential services like water and electricity in their homes. What’s even more critical during this pandemic is the health of these skilled workers who keep these key services going. Some utilities are taking steps to keep their staff from getting sick with coronavirus, which includes locking employees in at work.  

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR file

“Shelter-in-place” is not a legal term and different states use different terms. It generally means that people are ordered to stay home from work except those deemed essential by the state, and those going to grocery store, pharmacy and doctor, or to get fresh air at safe distance from others. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says people should continue to stay home if they can although she is not making a shelter-in-place order as some governors have. 

Aw Creative / Unsplash

Iowa is now up to 90 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Gov. Kim Reynolds has now gone a step further in her disaster proclamation and has ordered salons, spas and tattoo parlors to close until March 31.

In a press conference Sunday she also brought up some childcare mitigation requirements. Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with IPR health reporter Natalie Krebs about the governor's latest recommendations during this interview.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is working to get more tests for COVID-19.

At a press conference Thursday, Reynolds said the state hygienic lab has been able to keep up with the number of tests it receives, but is working with the federal government to get more.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Updates and news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa for the week of March 15-21 are available here. 

Natalie Krebs / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference at the State Operations Emergency Center in Johnston Monday to discuss her recommendation to close school for four weeks and other measures the state is taking in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Here is what we know about school closures. 

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa’s legislative session will be suspended for at least 30 days after state officials confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa, leaders announced Sunday afternoon.

Lindsey Moon and John Pemble / IPR

The 2020 Iowa Legislature gaveled in for the session on Jan. 13. They're scheduled to continue meeting at the Statehouse until sometime around April 21. Over the course of the 100 days lawmakers have to conduct business, file and debate legislation, and pass bills, there are two important deadlines. 

Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa Democratic Party has elected an interim chair following Troy Price’s resignation. Mark Smith of Marshalltown, a 10-term state representative, was voted as the party’s new interim leader on Saturday.

Caucus Meltdown

Feb 6, 2020

The 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses devolved into chaos when the system for reporting results failed. Technical issues, human error and reporting inaccuracies delayed the outcome for days, and the repercussions are still playing out. On the twentieth episode of Caucus Land, we take a look at the app that broke the caucuses and how Iowa Democrats are responding.

Clay Masters / IPR File

Senator Ernst walked comments back she made to Bloomberg News yesterday about former Vice President Joe Biden. She’d implied should he become president, Republicans would impeach him as soon as he was elected.

John Pemble / IPR file

The Iowa Statehouse will be empty Monday so lawmakers can caucus tonight in their home districts. But they’ll be back Tuesday to continue debating K-12 public school funding. Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters talks with IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric about the week ahead at the legislature.

Clay Masters / IPR

Pollsters behind the Des Moines Register/CNN Iowa Poll have decided not to release the results of its final, highly anticipated survey before the Iowa caucuses.

The release of the poll was canceled Saturday night after former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign raised concerns that his name was not included in at least one phone call.