Kate Payne


Kate Payne is an Iowa City-based reporter and a co-host of Iowa Public Radio's podcast Caucus Land. Before coming to the Midwest she was a reporter and fill-in host at member station WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida. Kate has won multiple awards for her political and feature reporting and her sound editing.

She is a proud North Florida native.

Send tips, recipes and road trip ideas to kpayne@iowapublicradio.org.

Kate's favorite public radio program is Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

John Pemble / IPR

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s newest plan released Friday morning aims to expand access to healthcare in rural areas. Buttigieg is the latest in a string of Democratic presidential candidates to release policy proposals this week meant to improve rural life.

Some two dozen presidential candidates have been campaigning in Iowa since way before much of the rest of the country tuned in to the race. Many have been coming here for months, some for years. On the fifth episode of Caucus Land, we'll introduce them to you.

John Pemble

This program originally aired on 8-15-18.


Corn dogs, baby ducks, and a butter cow to boot!


The Iowa State Fair is a time-honored tradition for many Iowans, and has gained a reputation for being one of the largest fairs in the nation.


Do you remember your first fair? 

Kate Payne/IPR file

Davenport’s flood task force is entering a new phase of deliberations, seeking more input from community members. Some on the panel feel pressure to get a proposal in front of the city council before the current mayor’s term ends.

Adam Cohn/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Presidential campaign staffers and political activists are facing off in a different kind of competition Saturday – dodgeball. While the event is a matter of Iowa caucus organizing, it’s also about friendship.

U.S. Department of Education via flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

An organization aimed at addressing racial disparities in the Quad Cities launched Wednesday. The African American Leadership Society has big goals – to help people of color, particularly kids, overcome years of discrimination and disinvestment.

The major parties in Iowa generally agree that the caucuses should remain first in the nation and they don't agree on much else. On the fourth episode of Caucus Land, we ask the state's party leaders how they can put aside their differences to keep Iowa first and what the 2018 midterms say about 2020.

Kate Payne/IPR

A coalition of environmental groups wants presidential candidates to treat drinking water as a top policy priority, and is asking them to build out their positions on how to ensure access to safe and affordable water for all Americans. But some politicos are skeptical the issue can compete for voters' attention at a time when much of the conversation is focusing on universal health care, the economy and climate change.

Kate Payne/IPR

A collaborative art project in Cedar Rapids is helping immigrants and refugees explore the meaning of home by working with clay. The Shifting Ground project grapples with identity, memory and relocation as new Iowans from Central Africa and Latin America make lives for themselves in the U.S.

Kate Payne/IPR

Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is taking aim at fossil fuel companies in her new climate plan released Thursday. The New York senator outlined her proposal during a panel discussion at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

During the 2016 presidential election, two seemingly impossible candidates took both major parties by storm, and American politics hasn't been the same. On the third episode of Caucus Land, Iowa gives Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump a stage and a microphone.    

Kate Payne/IPR

Scientists are urging Davenport officials to factor in climate change as they debate future flood protection plans. Some analysts say this year’s historic flood levels could’ve been much worse.

Clay Masters/IPR file photo

Local, state and federal officials have formed a working group to address Iowa’s PFAS contamination and any impacts to drinking water. Iowa is one of a number of states to grapple with the chemicals used at military bases and manufacturing sites.

Kate Payne/IPR file

Eastern Iowa residents will have a chance to weigh in on flooding, drought and navigation on the Mississippi River at public meetings this month. Events are slated for this Saturday in Muscatine and July 27th in Dubuque.

The Iowa caucuses are not known to be particularly inclusive or diverse. But in the 2008 cycle, the state became the jumping off point for a candidate who would become the nation’s first black president. On the second episode of Caucus Land, Barack Obama’s road to the White House.

Kate Payne/IPR file

Organizers in the southeast Iowa community of Burlington don’t anticipate any flooding issues to impact the city’s RAGBRAI plans. That’s after the Mississippi swamped parts of the town's downtown earlier this year

Kate Payne/IPR

About a thousand left-leaning Iowans weathered 90 degree temperatures in Cedar Rapids Sunday to hear from ten Democratic presidential candidates at Progress Iowa’s annual Corn Feed event. Each of the presidential hopefuls had about ten minutes to make their case.

Presidential candidates are seemingly everywhere in Iowa: showing up at picnics, union halls and coffee shops, even running in to each other at the farmer's market. Skipping out on the state that's the first to weigh in on the presidential primary process has become politically unthinkable. But that wasn't always the case. In the first episode of Caucus Land, we're going back to the 1960s to see how it all got started.

Kate Payne/IPR file

The city of Davenport is taking a deeper look at this year’s historic floods and the city’s handling of them. A task force of residents, business leaders, local officials and scientists met for the first time this week, kick-starting a formal review process.


Starting Monday there's a new director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. After serving as Gov. Kim Reynolds legislative liaison, Kayla Lyon will become the agency's first female leader, after the department has gone over a year without a permanent leader in place.

Kate Payne/IPR

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is highlighting his most recent fundraising blitz as he tours across Iowa this week. Even as recent polling shows support slipping for the Vermont senator, he’s voicing no doubts about his prospects in the first in the nation caucus state.

Alan Light / Flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Iowa City has expanded its hate crimes ordinance to include harassment and trespassing. Under the new policy, people who target others based on their protected class can face fines and minimum jail time for the offenses.

Don Graham/flickr creative commons

Iowans now have a new way to find out about private drinking water wells in their area. A team of researchers at the University of Iowa has built an interactive online map for residents, engineers and well drillers to better access well location and water quality information.

Roey Ahram/Flickr Creative Commons

Iowa 1st District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is sponsoring legislation aimed at increasing pay for rural doctors serving Medicare patients. Advocates say a federal government policy of reimbursing doctors at lower rates in smaller and more remote communities is contributing to provider shortages. 

Thomas Hawk/Flickr Creative Commons

Some Democratic presidential candidates are knocking the party for excluding them from debates later this month. The events pose a prime opportunity for lesser-known contenders to build a national profile, standing on the same stage as candidates currently leading in the polls.


A new analysis shows Iowans may face higher risks of certain health issues due to nitrate pollution in drinking water. Across the country, thousands of cases of certain cancers and birth defects may be linked to the contaminant, researchers found.

John Pemble / IPR

Nineteen of the Democratic presidential candidates gave speeches at one event in Cedar Rapids Sunday.  The candidates mostly took to bashing President Donald Trump, but there were subtle jabs at the front-runner.

The candidates just got five minutes each to speak. The most notable absence from the lineup was Joe Biden, the current frontrunner in the latest Des Moines Register/Mediacom/CNN Iowa Poll published over the weekend. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York made a swipe at the former vice president regarding abortion.

Håkan Dahlström/Flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

An investigation by Iowa’s state auditor alleges a former employee of an Iowa City business group improperly spent nearly half a million dollars with a company credit card.

Kate Payne/IPR

Some business owners in downtown Burlington are pumping out river water after a temporary floodwall broke Saturday. It’s the second such breech this year for Iowa cities on the Mississippi.

Welcome to Caucus Land! As the first in the nation voting state, Iowa is where all presidential candidates begin - and many end - their campaign to the White House. Join IPR reporters Clay Masters and Kate Payne as they delve into Iowa's role in shaping the nominating field - from Iowa's caucus history to the candidates, the moments and people that shape the 2020 presidential cycle.