Every four years, national media outlets converge on Iowa to follow politicians as they adventure through the state ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
Candidates and their handlers drop into diners, coffee shops, Casey's General Stores, and Pizza Ranches as they shake hands and meet caucus-goers. Wannabe presidential hopefuls can be seen eating food on a stick and sipping beer at the Iowa State Fair, turning their visits to Iowa into a competition for votes, a contest in Caucus Land.
In the lead up to the 2020 caucuses, IPR is gathering interviews from candidates and stories from the campaign trail throughout Iowa for a new podcast, "Caucus Land," slated to launch July.
Iowa Public Radio's Clay Masters and Kate Payne host the podcast, with other Iowa Public Radio reporters and producers contributing work and sound-rich scenes of what it's like to live and work in Caucus Land. Katherine Perkins, IPR's Program Director, says it's a unique project that highlights a very important process.
"The presidential campaign starts in Iowa long before almost anywhere else. Iowans, arguably, have the best opportunity to talk one-on-one to each of these candidates. We take seriously the job of determining which of the campaigns have what it takes to connect with voters and address their concerns. It's a special, personal process that I’m excited to share with people beyond the state's borders."
Masters, who is a familiar voice for IPR listeners, is no stranger to covering politics in the state. He's been writing about political candidates in Iowa since 2012 and reported on both Mitt Romney and Fmr. President Barack Obama's campaigns. He's also been collaborating with NPR's Politics Podcast interviewing candidates as they come through Iowa.
“It shoots to be informal in its storytelling,” Masters says. “Easy to follow, quick to get through and fun to listen to.”
He says he’s also looking forward to having more time to collaborate with Payne and tell the stories of how the campaign is shaping up and playing out in the state.
"There's only so much you can do within the confines of a news magazine when you've got 3-5 minutes. This podcast really helps tell the story of the caucuses, and will provide a different lens for what is happening in the state."
Payne says she’s also excited about the aspect of the podcast that tells the story of how the caucuses became the kingmaker they are today.
“Every four years the country wants to know what’s going on in Iowa. I think our show will be a fun way to keep tabs on what listeners really need to know in this race. As a history lover, I’m excited to give our audience the backstory on how we got here, and keep them up to speed on a very busy presidential cycle.”
Pre-subscribe to "Caucus Land" for an in-depth look at the importance of the Iowa caucuses, how they define a candidate's campaign in other states and how voters in Iowa shape the national conversation in advance of a presidential election.