Rick Brewer

Talk Show Producer

Rick came to Iowa Public Radio as a producer for Talk of Iowa and River to River in June 2019. He has worked at WFIU, community radio WFHB, WIUX's American Student Radio and created a couple of podcasts. His work has also been heard on PRX Remix, WAMC, and WFYI. Before his life in audio he worked at archives and libraries.

Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation Historic Archives

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. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

Our series continues with a look at the history of the good roads movement and the Lincoln Highway in Iowa. The guides for this hour of history will be Tom Morain of Graceland University and former director of the State Historical Society of Iowa and Drake Hokanson, author of The Lincoln Highway: Main Street Across America.

Courtesy of Lisa Fender

Most of us are spending a lot more time at home these days. Many people have been motivated to dig into a thorough spring cleaning and still others find the familiarity of home is breeding contempt. Or, at least discontent with some past decorating choices. 

Courtesy of Siobhan Spain

As the coronavirus spreads every one of us will know someone who is infected, if we don’t already. But right now it can still be difficult to wrap our minds around what is going on and many people are, understandably, reluctant to share that they are infected with COVID-19. On this segment of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe Studios in Des Moines to share her story. She and her husband have both tested positive for COVID-19.

CoWomen / Unsplash

During this dark and scary time there are some points of light. We’ve seen neighborhoods come together virtually. People have been decorating in themes for families to enjoy when they go out for walks, coordinating support for elderly neighbors, organizing socially distant birthday surprises for people who are stuck at home, and swapping home schooling or entertainment ideas.

Iowa Labor Collection / State Historical Society of Iowa Library-Iowa City

This program originally aired on Septmeber 5, 2019.

Since the late 1970s, the Iowa Labor History Oral Project has been collecting interviews from the working class across Iowa. They are collecting history from the ground up, as opposed to leaders or people with power.

Matthew Henry / Unsplash

Guest host Charity Nebbe speaks with several mental health experts about how to navigate mental health in times of crisis. They offer tips and share information about mental health resources that are available in Iowa.

Iowa PBS

Dean Borg passed away this week at the age of 81. Borg was a broadcasting legend in the state of Iowa. He is best known for his work on the Iowa PBS program Iowa Press, a position he held for more than 40 years. During that period he interviewed every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama. Borg also spent 20 years as a correspondent with Iowa Public Radio.

NRD / Unsplash

While much of our economy has ground to a halt, grocery store operations are ramping up amid the coronavirus pandemic. There is not a food shortage. Rather, grocers and markets are trying to meet increased demand and have had difficulties stocking shelves in a timely manner as supply chains have slowed. Additionally, stores have adjusted hours and are taking precautions to create a safe environment for shoppers and workers.

NeONBRAND / Unsplash

It’s too early to get planting in the garden, but it’s the perfect time to think about giving your shrubs and trees a trim. On this 'Horticulture Day' edition of Talk of Iowa, guest host Katelyn Harrop speaks with Richard Jauron of Iowa State University and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens about the best practices to prune and trim shrubs and trees.   

Edi Libedinsky / Unsplash

Large parts of our economy have nearly ground to a halt. On this episode of River to River, Ben Kieffer speaks with several Iowans, from a variety of industries, about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected their jobs, businesses and lives.

John Pemble / IPR

Iowa's legislative session will be suspended for at least 30 days as a means to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Katarina Sostaric, IPR's statehouse reporter, speaks with River to River host Ben Kieffer on the latest news from the capitol. 

Mikhail Vasilyev / Unsplash

On this 'Horticulture Day' edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Donald Lewis and Richard Jauron of Iowa State University extension and Mark Vitosh of the Iowa DNR to answer listener questions about the bugs, plants, trees and prairies in their lives.

Matt Alvarez / IPR

Dr. Francois Abboud describes his coming to the United States as serendipitous.

In 1955, as a young up and coming doctor in Egypt, he had little knowledge of the United States' medical offerings. But after a family friend filled out an application for a fellowship at the University of Milwaukee, without his knowledge, he received an acceptance letter. He soon got married and within a few short months was on his way to America. This was the beginning of a medical career that has spanned more than six decades in the midwest

Courtesy of Rachel Cox

Rachel Cox’s grandmother was a woman with a big personality and a keen sense of fashion. When Cox, a photographer and assistant professor of photography at the University of Iowa, first started taking pictures of her grandmother, she didn’t have any particular projects in mind. But as her grandmother declined over the course of a decade, suffering from a degenerative brain disease, she felt compelled to photograph her life and death. The result is the book Shiny Ghost.

Micaela Parente / Unsplash

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.

chuttersnap / Unsplash

River to River host Ben Kieffer speaks with Marc Schneider of Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service to discuss how the  COVID-19 outbreak has impacted Iowa's trade economy.


  • Marc Schneider, project manager at Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service

Keith Johnston / Unsplash

Many of us sign our children up for their first teams when they’re only three years old. By the time kids reach middle school and high school they have the opportunity to be a part of athletic programs at school. The message is that all kids are welcome to join in and give it a try, but the reality is that there are many obstacles that prevent kids from participating.

Courtesy of Jonathan Govias / Iowa State University

The Iowa State University Symphony Orchestra is performing a Symphony of Diversity on March 6 at Stephens Auditorium in Ames. This program brings artists and composers to the concert hall to highlight some of the many cultures and peoples that make up America.

Jessica Hill / AP Photo

In many countries, the novel coronavirus continues to spread at a fast pace. As of March 3, the U.S. has confirmed nine deaths in the state of Washington, and there are 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nebraska. How at risk is the U.S. as the number of confirmed cases increases and what is Iowa doing to prepare for a potential pandemic

Curology / Unsplash

Ben Kieffer hosts this "news buzz" edition of River to River focusing on a variety of news stories from this week including the verdict in the Jerry Lynn Burns trial, preparing for the new coronavirus, an Iowa National Guard deployment, statehouse news, the UNI men's basketball home winning streak and grooving into the weekend with IPR Studio One host Cece Mitchell.

Suzy Brooks / Unsplash

Article 2, section 2, clause 1 of the United States Constitution grants presidents the right to pardon those convicted of federal crimes. Since George Washington, presidents have been granting pardons and commutations. Even though the checks and balances written into the constitution for all three branches of government shape power dynamics, this article grants unilateral power to the president.

AP Photo


On this "politics day" edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Tim Hagle of the University of Iowa for a look at the future of the Democratic caucuses in Nevada and Iowa, following comments from some Nevada state leaders that call the future of Nevada's caucus process into question.


The trio also discuss the latest democratic presidential debate as well as other political headlines from the week. 

Courtesy of Troy Stolp

The relationship between Council Bluffs and Omaha goes back thousands of years. Evidence shows inhabitants of the region date as far back as 900 A.D. With such a long history of being joined across the Missouri River, Council Bluffs and Omaha have developed a complicated relationship.

USDAGOV / Creative Commons

There are several changes to the 2020 U.S. census. For example, for the first time ever, people will be given the option to fill out the census online and through a mobile app. These changes, however, do not come without their own set of challenges.

Craig McLachlan / Unsplash

The University of Iowa's 2020 What About ME(N) Summit seeks to "explore how our community can redefine masculinity and influence the culture we live in to end gender-based and interpersonal violence." Craig Bidiman, the summit's keynote speaker, joins host Charity Nebbe on this segment of Talk of Iowa to explore the masculine boxes men are placed in and why self-awareness, both mentally and physically, can be difficlut for some men to confront.

Julien Cha / Flickr

Last month, Kesho Scott of Grinnell College presented a three-part lecture series on the black holocaust as part of the Drake Community Library's "Bucket Courses." This community event was at maximum capacity for Scott's presentation as the audience sought to learn more about the atlantic slave trade and why this period in world history is now being called a holocaust.

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.” 

summonedbyfells / Flickr

Feb. 12 marks the 211 anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. Over the last several decades, a movement to establish an international Darwin Day holiday has been growing. A group in Iowa City celebrates Darwin Day every year by highlighting the work of modern evolutionary scientists. 

Chrishwish / Flickr

Officials from both Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) will meet Thursday Feb., 20 in Dallas to continue negotiations regarding The Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA), which is set to expire in September. 

The MLB's current plan proposes that 42 minor league teams will lose their MLB affiliation status. Three of these 42 teams are in Iowa: the Burlington Bees, the Clinton Lumberkings and the Quad Cities River Bandits. 

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.