Talk of Iowa

Weekdays at 10 a.m. on IPR News and News/Studio One and 9 p.m. on IPR News

Talk of Iowa brings a mix of regular guests and a range of experts to the microphone to discuss what’s happening in Iowa and what makes this a special place to live. Guests include wildlife expert Jim Pease and the Hort Gang on Fridays.

Talk of Iowa is hosted by @CharityNebbe. It’s produced by Dennis Reese, @EmilyWoodbury and @KatelynHarrop. Our Executive Producer is Katherine Perkins. Our theme music is by The River Monks.

Russ Morris/Flickr

Iris is an easy-to-grow perennial flowering plant that has more than 200 species of beautiful flowers that come in many shades. Iris takes its name from the Greek Goddess of the rainbow because of its wide range of colors.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, manufactured by Monsanto-Bayer, is widely used in Iowa. It's sprayed on thousands of acres of farmland each year and is commonly used in lawns and gardens.

Earlier this month, a California jury awarded a couple more than $2 million in a dispute against Monsanto, ruling that the plaintiffs contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma because of their use of Roundup. This is the third such case to end this way in California in the last two years.

Bayer continues to defend the safety of the product and it's hard to know what to believe.


You wouldn't expect a world-renowned charcoal and pastel artist like Cecile Houel to move from Paris to the southeastern corner of Iowa, and she didnt either. But Houel fell in love with Iowa, drawing strength and inspiration from the Mississippi River.

In this Talk of Iowa segment, Charity Nebbe talks with Houel about her life and career in Paris, her first impressions of Iowa and what has kept her here, her love of humanity, and her desire to heal through her work.

Richard Koenig


Debra Marquart had not originally intended to become an acclaimed poet, a distinguished professor at Iowa State University, or Iowa's next poet laureate. Marquart instead wanted to be a road musician, singing lead for a rock band and traveling from gig to gig, but life took her on a different path. 

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Marquart about being named the new Iowa Poet Laureate, her life as a road musician before her literary pursuits, and the impact poetry can have on people.

Cyndi Gryte

After growing up in small-town Iowa and graduating from Iowa State University, Cyndi Gryte went to Manhattan where her wildest adventures and biggest blunders would go on to inspire her semi-autobiographical debut novel, “Sydney Shag and the Sirens: Heavy on the Vodka and a Little bit Dirty."

UNMIT /Martine Perret / Flickr

Early this month the UN's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a summary of an upcoming 1,500-page report, where it states that one million plants, insects and animal species are on the verge of extinction.


Slugs are nocturnal and feed at night when we can’t see them. They also love to eat holes in the leaves of hosta plants.

In this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Donald Lewis, a professor of entomology at Iowa State University, who has an extensive hosta collection and therefore a long-term relationship with slugs. He shares his tips on how to control and live with them.

Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist Richard Jauron also joins the program.

Kev Haworth Photography

We all use adjectives to describe things and the world around us, for example: "look at that speedy little red car!" or "look the beautiful clear blue sky." So why don't we say "that red little speedy car" or "that blue clear beautiful sky"?

Adjectives have different classes (color, size, quality, ect.) that appear in a predetermined order, which English speakers automatically use without even thinking about it.

Silvester Franz / Flickr

For centuries, yoga has served as a healing and therapeutic practice that has helped many who have encountered trauma in their life.

"When trauma happens, there is this lack of power, this lack of choice over what is happening," says Julie Jack, founder and editor of The Exhale Project, a grant funded program that offers free yoga classes to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and other related traumas.

Jason Garber / Flickr

The 8-track tape was a revolutionary technology that allowed people to play music on-demand in their vehicles. It was a very popular medium in the United States from the mid 1960s to early 1980s, but it's popularity was short-lived.

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Bob Anders, who is working to reinvigorate the appeal of the 8-track with his show, "Bob’s 8-Track Garage Sale" on KHOI-FM in Ames.

Kim Whitley-Gaynor /

This program originally aired on August 28, 2017.

The 2017 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Shelley Vroegh, often cites an article written for new teachers that compares teachers to marigolds. She says that if you plant marigolds near vegetables, they are going to make those vegetables thrive.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

In a world where it seems like everyone is incredibly busy, author Tracey Kelley would like us to slow down and be more present in our own lives.

Emily Woodbury / Iowa Public Radio

In 1929, there were 9,098 men licensed to fly in the United States, and just 117 women. That year, a group of ninety-nine female pilots, let by Amelia Earhart, got together to break down barriers for women in flight.

90 years later, flying is still a largely male-dominated hobby and profession.

Lynn English/Flickr

The recent cool damp weather may be dampening spirits in Iowa, but the flowering trees have been putting on quite a show over the last couple of weeks. If these spring blossoms have inspired you to add a new tree to your landscape, the Hort Gang is here to help.

Doc Searls

This program originally aired on 5-1-17.

What we want out of students attending school has changed over hundreds of years.  Are we preparing students for jobs, for life, for citizenship, for social mobility? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores the history of the debate with University of Iowa's Chris Ogren, associate professor of history of education in the department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies.

Robert Kerr's new mystery, "Legion Lake", takes place in an Iowa lake community and revolves around pollution, corruption, murder and the power of lifelong friendship.  

On this segment of Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Kerr about his new book, and the River to River program that helped inspire this mystery.

Bill Reynolds

Like so many kids growing up in the Midwest, singer-songwriter Lissie was eager to leave. But after 15 years in California, the Rock Island, Illinois native has traded in her life on the West Coast for 47 acres and solitude on a rural farm in Northeast Iowa.

AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

Right now, many Iowans are observing Ramadan, which is widely considered the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. The month is considered both a joyous celebration and a time of spiritual discipline, with daily fasts from dawn to sundown culminating in the lush three-day festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Gage Skidmore

This conversation originally aired on February 8, 2018.

In the process of inventing a fantasy world, sometimes characters need a whole new language. And that language can bring so much more to the story than just acoustic flavor.

"The moment you create a word, it assumes so much about the world where this language is spoken," says David Peterson, the linguist who developed the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO's Game of Thrones.

Torrey Wiley / Flickr

In 2012, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was sent to prison, convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Matthew Sandusky was victimized by his adopted father and has dedicated his adult life to preventing childhood sexual abuse and helping other survivors heal.


Warm weather and rain has brought a beautiful bloom across the state, and with planting season upon us it's a great time to take action to prevent common pests and diseases that can plague your garden through the growing season. 

On this horticulture edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with experts about prevention and other efforts to establish a healthy garden.

Guests Include:

Iowa Public Television

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe looks back at 50 years of Iowa Public Television with three Iowans who have worked at the station for decades.

Steve Cannon

Over rivers and mountains covered in ice, snow, and dirt, the goal is to get to Nome, Alaska and finish "The Last Great Race on Earth." The Iditarod is an annual 1000 mile long race, and while it is primarily run by mushers with teams of sled dogs, it's also become an incredible challenge for cyclists. 

W.W. Norton & Co.

This program originally aired on August 16, 2017.

This hour, host Charity Nebbe speaks live with two Iowa writers, Inara Verzemnieks and Elizabeth Dinschel.

Social media platforms like Pinterest contain more than just fun recipes and party planning ideas. They are an excellent resource for homeowners and DIY fanatics for innovative projects and building advice.

Helios4Eos / Getty Images

  On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, guest host Jason Burns talks to horticulturalist Richard Jauron and commercial vegetable production specialist Ajay Nair about when to plant tomatoes and how to care for them as they grow.

Then, Jauron and Nair answer listener questions.

Karsten Moran / Redux Pictures

  This conversation originally aired on January 29, 2018

New York Times Magazine Staff Writer Nikole Hannah-Jones is no stranger to hard conversations about race. She grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, being bused to a school across town that was mostly white, compared to her majority black neighborhood. She says she grew up spending about two hours on the bus each day. 

Remaking the Music of Fred Rogers

Apr 25, 2019
American Libraries / —

  This conversation originally aired on January 31, 2018

A few years ago, jazz vocalist Keri Johnsrud was talking with another musician about the role of music in children's television programs. 

"We started talking about Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and how the music in that program was so integral to the advancement of the stories and messages that he was telling on the program. And how jazz was especially was an important part of the show," she says.

Phee/Wikimedia Commons

A new traveling exhibit at the Science Center of Iowa is getting attention for the unique way it allows visitors to experience what its like to live with mental illness. 

F_A seelensturm / Flickr

This segment originally aired on May 3, 2017.

Spraying herbicide to achieve what many consider to be the ideal lawn became a common practice in the mid-20th century. Many people stopped that practice after studies showing the health impact of human contact with common pesticides and weed killers.