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.

Michael Longmire / Unsplash

Iowa’s death rate from opioid overdoses is lower than many states, but it is increasing. A new study from the University of Iowa’s Injury Prevention Research Center presents ideas for getting ahead of this trend.

Matthew Henry / Unsplash

From cell phones, web browsers, credit cards, to walking down streets, people are under some form of surveillance practically every minute of everyday. What are the consequences of our surveillance culture? Are consumers truly powerless? 

John Pemble / IPR File

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and IPR statehouse reporter Katarina Sostaric speak with lawmakers from both parties about the ongoing debate within the Iowa house and senate regarding how much of the state budget will go toward funding k-12 education. 

Natalie Krebs / IPR

It's unclear who officially won the Democratic caucuses Monday. Many caucusgoers were left with more questions than answers as the Iowa Democratic Party precincts struggled to report results. 

Ben Kieffer / IPR

River to River's Ben Kieffer attended President Donald Trump's rally in Des Moines at Drake University's Knapp Center in front of a max capacity crowd just four days before the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 

Ehimetalor Unuabona / Unsplash

Every four years Iowans are bombarded with telephone calls asking to take a polling survey in preparation for the caucuses. Reading polls can be confusing. Most polls show different outcomes for elections and vary from week to week. In the context of the Iowa caucuses, it's even more confusing because so many likely caucusgoers remain undecided until the last minute. So, how do we understand political polling? We brought in Peter Hanson, Director of the Grinnell National Poll, to explain.

Element5digital / Unsplash

Actor Jordan Whalen grew up in Ames and has been interested in the Iowa caucuses since 2007. Whalen has always thought the Democratic caucus process is naturally theatrical and has been thinking about developing a play about this political event for more than a decade. Now he is one of the leaders of New York City's Counterpart Collective, a theatre group whose mission is to create theatre derived from primary sources.

John Pemble / IPR

In this special edition of River to River, a panel of reporters and columnists from The Gazette analyze the biggest news headlines of the week. Investigative Reporter Erin Jordan and IPR's Ben Kieffer hosted the "Pints and Politics" event before a live audience in Cedar Rapids on Jan. 16. 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

With Caucus Day less than 20 days away, River to River continues its series of interviews with 2020 presidential candidates. During this segment, host Ben Kieffer speaks with entrepreneur Andrew Yang. 

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. 

Macro Polo / Paulson Institute

Macro Polo is a think tank at the Paulson Institute, and earlier this month, they launched a five-part podcast series titled "Heartland Mainland: The Iowa China Podcast." This podcast focuses on explaining U.S.-China relationships and connections to Iowa.

JamesYoung067 / Flickr

A simple eye scan could help detect Alzheimer's or determine the risk for this disease even before other symptoms are detectable. Two Iowa State University researchers received funding from the National Institute on Aging to continue a longitudinal study to better understand links between stress and Alzheimer as a means to help predict the likelihood in which people can develop the disease. 

Michael Leland / Flickr

The 2020 legislative session started Monday, introducing a renewed opportunity for policy changes in Iowa. Iowa Senate and House leaders join River to River to discuss their priorities for the upcoming months. 

Phil Roeder / Flickr

It's difficult to be in one of Iowa's major college towns without running into a mascot. These days mascots are big business. Whether for marketing, birthday parties or being ambassadors for universities, mascots have become a major part of a university's identity and alumni pride.

In this segment of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Sean Adams about his debut novel “The Heap,”  which follows the aftermath of the collapse of Los Verticales, a 500-floor vertical city that houses an inner world teeming with life. In his novel, Adams takes us to a dystopian version of our present world, but the people we meet, their motives, and actions are all too familiar.

Tim Ireland / AP Photo

This program originally aired on  11-26-19

On this edition of River to River, award-winning historian Andrew Roberts joins host Ben Kieffer to talk about his latest book “Leadership In War, Essential Lessons From Those Who Made History.”  In his book, Roberts makes a comparison of nine world leaders who guided their nations through the greatest wars the world has ever seen and how their unique strenghs and weaknesses changed the course of human history.

Brent Herrig

Brent Herrig is a culinary lifestyle photographer living in New York City, and he has created a photo exhibit that features the favorite spoons of chefs, bartenders and baristas around the world and the stories behind each spoon. In collaboration with chefs, Herrig shows us in his website the chefs' favorite spoons with the ingredients that inspired them. 

Pictured here: Poppy
Molly Wood

Photographer and 2018 Iowa Arts Council Fellow Molly Wood joins this edition of Talk of Iowa to reveal the inspirations behind her exhibit "The Poison Garden," which is on display at the Dubuque Museum of Art through Jan. 12. Her exhibit "Fatal Flora" is at the State Library of Iowa through Jan. 31. 

Courtesy of Steve Wendl / Anamosa State Penitentiary

After spending 31 years as a counselor at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Steve Wendl began compiling historical stories from the prison. He not only launched the Anamosa State Penitentiary history website, he also helped found the musuem. Recently, Wendl has been creating and producing podcast episodes that are based on stories from the prison for the Voice of Jones County website.  The series features dramatic voice acting and storytelling based on real people who were imprisoned at the Anamosa State Penetentiary. 

Barnyz / Flickr

Spending time in forests in pursuit of boosting health and happiness makes up forest bathing or forest therapy, a practice that is gaining popularity among people searching for natural wellness treatments.

David Geiger / "Journey of a Bean"

Freshly harvested from cropland in Illinois, a single soy bean travels the world before ending up as part of a meal in Seoul, South Korea. Its long journey through the global agricultural and food industries paints a detailed picture of the real farm to table processes.

Richard Scott Marsh / Flickr

The origins of many of Iowa's town and city names are obvious: Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Mason City, Fort Dodge. But what about places like What Cheer, Gravity, Sabula? And how do you pronounce Nevada? Also, why is Des Moines not in Des Moines county? 

Leander Arkenau / Flickr

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, we get a rundown of some of IPR's favorite new releases from 2019 from classical, folk and blues musicians. Charity Nebbe talks with IPR Classical's Barney Sherman, the Folk Tree's Karen Impola and the one and only Bob Dorr, who hosts Blue Avenue and Backtracks on IPR's Studio One. 

Duy Hoang / Unsplash

During this episode of Talk of Iowa, Iowa State University Associate Professor Cindy Haynes and Reiman Gardens Associate Director Aaron Steil offer gift recommendations for gardeners and plant-enthusiasts. 

Courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics

Hayden Fry came to Iowa to coach the Hawkeye football team in 1978. When he got here the Hawks had been through 17 consecutive non-winning seasons. It took a couple of years, but Coach Fry transformed Hawkeye Football.

During his tenure, he won 143 games, the team shared three Big Ten titles, and went to three Rose Bowls. In addition to being a great coach, he was also a larger than life character. He was funny, smart, tough and could throw a temper tantrum with the best of them. His players loved him. The fans loved him. And he loved them back.

Bipartisan Policy / Flickr

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Ernest Moniz. Moniz is former Secretary of Energy and the Chief Executive of the Nuclear Threat Initative, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn. During this conversation, Moniz addresses many of the pressing questions surrounding the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world.

Jim Grey / Flickr

Although President Donald Trump hasn't yet faced a major foreign policy crisis, his indecisiveness while managing military operations in Afghanistan and Syria concerns bestselling author and CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen.

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. 

Ebere Agwuncha / Rachel For Ames

In a run-off election for an Ames City Council seat Tuesday, 20-year-old Iowa State University student Rachel Junck not only defeated incumbent Chris Nelson, but also made history.

Junck is the second-youngest woman ever elected to a government office in Iowa.

Ponseti International Association / University of Iowa

Each year, nearly 200,000 children worldwide are born with a deformative skeletal birth defect known as clubfoot. On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Tom Cook who is the author of the new book "Clubfoot: The Quest For A Better Life For Millions of Children.

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