Matthew Alvarez

Talk Show Producer

As a method for processing the end of a nine-year marriage with a gay man, Kellie Kramer has channeled her energy and emotions into a one-woman cabaret show, "All the Good Men Are Gay."  Kramer, an actor and singer who hosts Iowa Outdoors on Iowa PBS, pieces together the story of love and loss through songs that range from Judy Garland to "Weird Al" Yankovic. 

Jesper Aggergaard / Unsplash

Weightlifting didn't appear on Cynthia Martin's radar until age 64, when she picked up barbells for the first time through a Cross Fit program. Just a few years later, the Marion native won the 2018 National Weightlifting Championship in Buffalo, New York. 

Rebecca Blackwell / AP Photo

On this edition of River to River host Ben Kieffer speaks with Reynaldo Leanos Jr., a border and immigration reporter with Texas Public Radio, about the crisis at the border.

Also joining the conversation are Sue Otto, Sally Hartman and Deb Schoelerman. The three Iowa women describe their visit to a tent city in Matamoros, Mexico. The city is located just over border from Brownsville, Texas. Together they detailed the harsh living conditions many refugees have had to endure.

Drake University / Flickr

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer sits down with IPR's Clay Masters, UNI's Donna Hoffman and ISU's Jonathan Hassid to recap last night's CNN Des Moines Register Democratic Presidential Debate hosted at Drake University. 

Courtesy of "Adore Us! Line" Production Team

From the creator of "Caucus: The Musical," a new song-by song parody of "A Chorus Line" showcases the 2020 Democratic candidates auditioning for Iowa voters. 

Composer, Playwright, and Producer Robert John Ford joins this edition of Talk of Iowa to discuss the opening of his musical, "Adore Us! Line." 

Element 5 Digital / Unsplash

Iowa has been hosting first-in-the-nation caucuses since 1972, but the proceedings have shifted with the years. Since the last caucuses in 2016, the DNC has mandated a new set of changes. IPR Reporter Kate Payne joins this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River to summarize how the upcoming Democratic caucuses on Feb. 3 will differ. 

Katelyn Harrop / IPR

Dear Experienced Iowans, 

What gives with the balmy weather? I’m writing to you from Iowa City, and there is no snow to be found.

I guess you can say I am fortunate. So far this winter has greeted me with unexpected sunny days, unseasonably warm temperatures and a Christmas so mild it truly reminded me of Texas.

Pete Souza / The Obama White House

In 2007, Iowa native Chris Liddell-Westefeld became a field organizer for the Obama campaign. His early start eventually led to career in White House where he spent five years working for the Obama Administration.

Right before Liddell-Westefeld's departure, he started a project to document President Obama’s historic path to the White House. Twelve years and 200 interviews later, Liddell-Westefeld has now released his book “They Said This Day Would Never Come: Chasing The Dream On Obama’s Improbable Campaign.”

Benjamin Combs / Upsplash

Have you ever been falling asleep, or waking up, and then become suddenly aware you're unable to move or speak?  

Neurologist and Director of the University of Iowa Sleep Disorders Program, Mark Dyken joins host Ben Kieffer on this edition of River to River to explain the science of sleep paralysis.  Later on, he answers questions from callers across Iowa about a wide range of sleep problems. 

IPR/Matthew Alvarez

Nearly a dozen people sat in a small room painted black and lit only by two theatre lamps, drawing attention to a DJ booth with its chrome and silver equipment glimmering.

DJ Patrick Blin stepped up to the booth, and the silence was broken by the sounds of record scratches as those watching pulled out their phones to begin filming. Smiles broke out across their faces.

This episode origionally aired on  11-7-19

Mikhail Khodorkovsky was once believed to be the wealthiest man in Russia.  In the 1990’s, Khodorkovsky rocketed to prosperity and celebrity, but his fortunes drastically changed. He ended up serving a decade in prison, and became an unlikely martyr for the movement against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Andre Wright

News fatigue is real. As the year closes out with rising awareness of climate change, international tension, multiple refugee crises, constant political wrangling, and so many important but difficult stories, Talk of Iowa pauses to focus on acts of kindness and positive connections.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The last week in national politics has been marked by the third impeachment of a U.S. president in history and the latest debate between Democratic presidential candidates. During this episode of River to River, Drake University Political Science Professor Dennis Goldford weighs in on both of those topics. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After more than a year of partisan gridlock in Washinton, a replacement of the NAFTA agreement is now expected to win approval from Congress and alter the state of trade between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 

Matthew Alvarez / IPR

Nate Staniforth is a professional magician. While he’s built a career by performing magic tricks in front of audiences, he also believes in real magic – the kind that keeps wonder alive in the world.

Matthew Alvarez / IPR

Claire Lombardo released her debut novel "The Most Fun We Ever Had" over the summer. The novel follows a large family's complex dynamics and relationships over four decades through a Midwesterner's lens.

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Public Radio

At a marathoner's pace, Pete Buttigieg has pulled ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination, and he's now a top contender. Being at the top has certainly caught the attention of many Iowans planning to caucus, both in gaining new supporters and drawing harsh criticisms about his past at the same time.

iweatherman / Flickr

In 2005, Richard Louv came out with his book “Last Child in the Woods,” a story that managed to put into words something a lot of people were worrying about - a disconnect between children and nature. In his book, he introduced the term nature-deficit disorder and globalized a movement.

Fourteen years later, Louv is still focusing on that connection with nature in his latest book, “Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives and Save Theirs.” 

Matt Alvarez / IPR

Just about every four years the rest of the country turns its attention toward Iowa. Everybody wants to figure out what makes us tick and who we'll vote for.

Robert Leonard is a keen observer of his fellow humans. He studies us from the perspective of a trained anthropologist and a seasoned journalist. He also, it turns out, has the heart of a poet. All of these facets come together in his latest book "Deep Midwest: Midwestern Explorations," published by Ice Cube Press.

Matt Alvarez / NPR

George Bernard Shaw said, "make it a rule to never give a child a book you would not read yourself."

With that in mind, we asked some knowledgeable bookworms to create a recommendations list for the best new books for this winter. 

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

During this segment of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and political analyst Jim McCormick discuss last week’s impeachment hearings and the rherotic coming from both Republicans and Democrats about the Ukraine affair. 

They take also take a look at where the 2020 presidential candidates stand weeks before the Iowa Caucuses and Hong Kong unrest and the implications it may have on trade between the U.S. and China.

Domiriel / Flickr

Iowa State University Astrophysicist Steve Kawaler says his team listens to the notes sung by stars, since the pitch from a star vibrating can indicate its size and mass. 

Ben Kieffer / IPR

Dear Experienced Iowans,

What in the hell is going on here?

The high temp today is 50 degrees warmer than it was a week ago – this is the type of behavior I’d expect from the Lone Star state, not here. 

From ice skating to ultimate frisbee, the new children's book "Amazing Iowa Athletes" highlights both prominent and little-known Iowa athletes who have accomplished extraordinary feats. 

IPR File

In 1949 when Evelyn Birkby began writing a weekly column for the Shenandoah Evening Sentinel, her publisher told her to include a recipe every week. She did, even though she couldn’t cook. 

The newspaper column “Up a Country Lane” has had a 70-year run. Birkby, now 100, has decided it is time for her to say goodbye to her readers. 

Justin Brice Guariglia gave up photojournalism to pursue environmental activism a few years ago. Today, he is most well known for his large scale photographic, sculptural and installation-based works inspired by the relationship between the earth and humans. He uses art to try and get his point across that humans are having a negative impact on the planet. 

Matthew Alvarez / IPR

In a new collection of essays, “Some Of Us Are Very Hungry Now,” Andre Perry writes about his journey from Washington D.C. to Iowa City to Hong Kong exploring questions about race, racism, homophobia, self-discovery and identity. 

Ben Kieffer / Iowa Pubic Radio

Dear Experienced Iowans,

My name is Matt Alvarez. I’m the new talk show producer for Iowa Public Radio. I’m also new to Iowa, if you haven’t heard by now. As a Texas native I’ve dealt with my share of extreme weather situations – countless droughts, flash foods, tornadoes, heatwaves, and, yes, a few days of winter. But Texans have a very different definition of "cold." 

Darren Tromblay

The only grocery store in Ogden burned down Saturday night, and now Ogden residents will have to travel 10 miles to the nearest store. 

ISU associate scientist Dave Swenson, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe, and Miranda Parker of the Ogden Reporter weigh in what the loss of the grocery store means for the Ogden community. 

Timothy D. Easley / AP Photo

President Trump faces a low national approval rating and the impeachment inquiry is still in the air. Despite all this, a new set of surveys shows President Trump remains highly competitive in key battleground states – the likeliest to decide his re-election.

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