Matthew Alvarez

Talk Show Producer
Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash

With classes canceled or moving online, college students are moving back home. They’ll be joined by their parents, siblings and anyone one else who is working from home as the country practices social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Iowa Public Radio listeners love to learn. While schools are closed, we're creating a series of  "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages.

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On this “news buzz” edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Iowa State University economist Chad Hart and outlines the impact COVID-19 is likely to have on the Iowa economy.

Later in the program, IPR's Eastern Iowa reporter Kate Payne shares concerns over prison safety with the community spread of COVID-19 and Superintendent of the Storm Lake School System, Stacy Cole, describes the enormous challenges public schools are facing with closures lasting at least 4 weeks.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political scientists Rachel Caufield and Jim McCormick about how the country's leaders are handling the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing lives dramatically, at least temporarily.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Edith Parker, Dean of the University of Iowa College of Public Health, and Mike Pentella, director of the State Hygienic Public Health Laboratory in Coralville, about the quickly emerging public health emergency.

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Emergencies can bring out the best, and unfortunately, also the worst in people.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller about price gouging and other scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. IPR’s health reporter Natalie Krebs joins the program to discuss closures of all kinds, hospital restrictions and how suspected cases are being treated.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Megan Goldberg of Cornell College, for analysis of the latest primary results and the state of the contest between Biden and Sanders.

Listeners voice their reasons for supporting certain candidates, and they discuss how COVID-19 is posing political challenges across the world.   


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Homo erectus evolved around 2 million years ago, and was the first known human species to walk fully upright.

After Homo erectus dispersed from Africa, the species colonized the ancient world.  Then, about 400,000 years ago, Homo erectus essentially vanished, with the lone exception of an Indonesian island.

GegenWind Photo / Unsplash

Let’s hop in the time machine, going back, way back, to a time before humans – traveling about three billion years to when Earth was a “water world."

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Ben Johnson to discuss his field work on exposed ancient, ocean crust in a remote part of Western Australia. 

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On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR state government reporter Katarina Sostaric talk with Iowa lawmakers about childcare legislation being debated at the statehouse.

Michelle Brooke, owner and director of Mrs. Brooke’s Curious Kids Program, shares her experience teaming up with Lee Container to provide childcare for that business and the challenges she sees in the future for childcare in Iowa.  

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The growing season hasn’t begun, but with beautiful weather ahead this weekend a lot of gardeners are itching to get their hands dirty.

Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Richard Jauron, ISU Extension horticulture specialist, and Cindy Haynes, associate professor of horticulture, about early spring garden chores, and what you can do right now to prepare for the growing season.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater / HANCHER

Set to spirituals, gospel songs and blues, Alvin Ailey’s modern dance masterpiece "Revelations" was first performed in 1960. It was unlike anything audiences had seen before, and since then it’s been performed continuously around the globe.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Iowa native Ronnie Favors of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater about her journey through modern dance and the troupe’s upcoming Iowa performance.

Universal Productions France

Jean Seberg grew up in Marshalltown. She became an international movie star and lived most of her adult life in Paris. Seberg starred in 37 films and is possibly best remembered for her role in the movie “Breathless,” the forefront of the French New Wave movement. 

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with the filmmaking team behind the documentary “Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg,” to give us their thoughts of the new film “Seberg.” 

Matt Alvarez / IPR

Brandon Taylor's new novel "Real Life" is attracting a great deal of attention. The critically acclaimed book tells the story of a group of friends studying biochemistry at a large midwestern University — easily recognized as the University of Wisconsin. 

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After centuries of large-scale destruction, humans need to recreate and reconnect habitat for the health of the natural and human worlds. 


Ecologist Nick Haddad has been working to create habitats and researching the power of connecting them into corridors.

Eric Gutschmidt / Gutschmidt Properties



There is a house on 8th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids that's been turning heads. It’s a property that had been in bad shape, known as a local drug house and blight on the neighborhood.

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Since the 1970s, spaying and neutering pets has become commonplace and expected for the majority of pet owners.

Bob Barker, the host of “The Price is Right,” started signing off by reminding viewers to help control the pet population -- a message he echoed for decades and changed how we care for our pets.

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An 11-year-old boy playing baseball stops running, clutches his chest and falls to the ground. He cannot be resuscitated. One of his brothers survives a similar attack and no one can figure out why, until a medical team at the University of Iowa discovered an unknown genetic disorder.

Melissa Porter

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Gary Porter to discuss his memoir, Town Kid: Reflections of a Midwestern Boyhood. The book is a collection of essays capturing moments from Porter's childhood, and slices of life in small-town Iowa.

Pennsylvania on the picket line-- 1917.
Harris & Ewing / Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The fight for women’s suffrage, and the right to vote, was long and hard in the United States. Many of the early leaders of the movement did not live to see their victory.

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Iowa PBS producer and director Laurel Bower about her new documentary "Carrie Chapman Catt: Warrior for Women." The documentary tells the story of Catt, who lived in Iowa, graduated from Iowa State – now Iowa State University – and the battle for the 19th Amendment.     

Richard Lee / Unsplash

On this “News Buzz” edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with a variety of guest about the week’s latest news stories. This episode includes an update on a forty-year-old cold case in Davenport, what legislation made it through the first deadline at the Statehouse, and the worrying results about bald eagle populations in Iowa. 

We also hear about new research from Iowa State University that can determine the age of a fingerprint, and the many problems in getting adequate emergency medical services in Iowa.


Ben Moon

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Doug Peacock about his work in the wilderness, tracking dangerous animals, his fight against climate change and his crusade to save grizzly bears.

Peacock is the author of “The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears”, “Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness” and “Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness.”

Department of Defense

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Jerry Yocum, vice president of the Camp Algona POW Museum Committee, historian and lead writer of “13,000 Nights: Kossuth County Men in Axis POW Camps in WWII.”

The Kossuth County enlisted men, John Muehe, Gordon Dimler, Richard Lavrenz, Howard Smith, John Spongberg and Donald Chiquet all spent more than 747 nights in German captivity. All of them survived.

Yocum said it took four years to research, document and dig deep to tell the stories of these prisoners of war.  


Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political scientists Jim McCormick and Jonathan Hassid, of Iowa State University about President Trump's unhappiness with William Barr after the Attorney General said Trump's tweeting was making it "impossible for him to do his job."

They also discuss Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who has spent more than $400 million on his 2020 campaign so far, and what that means for elections of the future. And Ben has his guests reflect on COVID-19's impact on the Chinese economy and the state of Afghanistan today.

Lindsey Moon / IPR

Dear Experienced Iowans, 

When I told friends and family back in Texas that I would be walking onto a frozen lake, they all had the same question: “ A lake... is that safe?” Those comments where quickly followed by: “It was nice knowing ya.” 

John Pemble / IPR

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about a proposed amendment to the Iowa Constitution that could open the door to more abortion restrictions within the state.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On this "News Buzz" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with a variety of guests about the week's latest news stories. This episode includes interviews about the trial of a forty-year-old cold case in Davenport, the resignation of Troy Price as the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and bills that have made headway in the Iowa statehouse.

The Actors' Gang / Hancher

Tim Robbins discusses "The New Colossus," a theatrical performance and story depicting the immigrant experience, with IPR's Charity Nebbe. 

Kyle Sleichter / KCRG

Bruce Aune, a trusted news anchor at KCRG, the ABC affiliate in Eastern Iowa, is retiring this March.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe welcomes Aune for a discussion of some of the most memorable moments in his 34 years in the anchor chair and some of the changes he’s witnessed.


Bruce Aune, anchor, reporter

Lindsey Moon / IPR

Did you make a New Year's resolution to read more? We're here to inspire you! Talk of Iowa is launching a book club.

We hosted the first meeting at 10:00 a.m. during the live broadcast of Talk of Iowa on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Author Ayana Mathis talked about her novel "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie," and a few Iowans who read the book along with us also joined the conversation.