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.

Abi Skipp

Spring is officially here, but this winter’s bitter cold and heavy snow may have caused damage to trees and shrubs. Desperate for food, deer, rabbits, and voles may have eaten plants they usually leave alone.

In this "horticulture day" edition of Talk of Iowa, guest host Amy Mayer talks with horticulture experts about types of damage from animals, the impact of deep snow and ice on your garden and lawn, and what to monitor as spring unfolds.

Charity Nebbe

This conversation originally aired on July 13, 2017.

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history, with hundreds of thousands of casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate sides.

In Some of Our Yesterdays, a memoir posthumously unearthed by the family of Charles Seton Lindsay, the Civil War experience is vividly told by Lindsay, who fought for the Union as a teenager after enlisting against his family's wishes. He recalls the horrors of battle he witnessed in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Courtesy of the Gable Family

This interview originally aired on July 5, 2017.

Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable has been a household name in Iowa for decades. After bringing home three state wrestling championships in high school, he went on to the 1972 Munich Olympics, where he successfully wrestled without losing a single point. He famously coached the University of Iowa team to win 15 NCAA titles before retiring after the 1997 season. Since then he has continued to coach and has been actively working to keep Olympic and collegiate wrestling alive and thriving.

FaceMePLS / Flickr

This program originally aired on August 15, 2017.

There's been some new and alarming research about the increasing number of suicides and cases of depression among teens. Are cell phones and social media contributing to the problem? During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Jean Twenge, who is author of the forthcoming book IGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. 

Vivian Chen / flickr

This conversation originally aired on June 19, 2017. 

The way women communicate with their friends can be subtle but powerful. Georgetown University professor of linguistics Deborah Tannen studies interpersonal relationships and communication patterns between women and the ways in which they differ from those of men. These differences can often be frustrating to those involved.

This Sunday is St. Patrick's Day, a day when everybody is at least a little bit Irish, but there are many Iowans who have genuine Irish heritage. The Irish are the second largest immigrant group in Iowa history, and many Iowans with Irish roots take pride in their heritage, and the hardships their ancestors overcame.

On this hour of talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe sits down with historian and author of Irish Iowa, Timothy Walch, and proud Irish Iowan Ken Donnelly, to discuss how the Irish shaped Iowa's infrastructure and culture. 

Deanna Castings/Pexels

For 20 years, readers have been hooked on the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends, with many people finding inspiration in the characters and themes of the books by J.K. Rowling. The very popular podcast "Harry Potter and the Sacred Text" has grown out of that community, and it takes an intentional look at the series and the lessons we can take from it. 

Jonah Siegel

Karen Bender’s latest collection of short stories, "The New Order," was released just ten days after the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

The first story in the collection is called, “Where to Hide in a Synagogue”.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with Bender about the collection and her characters, who deal with everything from junior high angst, workplace harassment, gun violence, and more. 


The new film, “Sons and Daughters of Thunder” tells the story of the anti-slavery debates that took place at the Ohio Lane theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1834. These controversial meetings, lead by abolitionists, were the first to publically discuss the end of slavery in the U.S. and served as a catalyst for major social activism and change at the seminary and throughout the wider Cincinnati community. 

Wikimedia Commns

Due to deep snow, plenty of ice, wild winds, and frigid temperatures, it has been a long, hard winter for all of us in Iowa. That includes the non-human residents. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease about the possible impact of harsh winter weather on wild animals here in Iowa.

ISU Extension

It may be hard to believe right now, but the arrival of spring is inevitable. On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, plant pathologist Lina Rodriguez Salamanca from the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Lab joins host Charity Nebbe to talk about an opportunity to become a certified morel mushroom hunter.

Charity Nebbe / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa has a reputation as being a home for writers. Recently that has been especially true for writers of poetry. Many poets across the state releasing new collections, participating in readings, poetry slams, and striving to teach and inspire the next generation of poets.

During this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe will be speaking with three Iowa poets about their work and about the growing scene across the state. Their writing deals with a range of themes and inspirations, from death and sickness, and true crime, to arm wrestling at the Iowa State Fair.

Alexa McDowell

Only 11 sites in Iowa are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as having played an important role in African American history. The State Historic Preservation Office is hoping Iowans participate in a new project that will put more spots on the map – the 20th Century Civil Rights Survey Project.

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with those involved: Paula Mohr, architectural historian at the State Historical Society of Iowa, and Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP.

Courtesy of Sam Fathallah

The music scene in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest is thriving right now and videographer Sam Fathallah wants everyone to know about it.

That's why Fathallah started Circular Sessions, a video series showcasing the breadth and depth of the Midwestern music scene through interviews and performances. Through the series, Fathallah invites artists including Elizabeth Moen, The Maytags, and Bad Bad Hats into his sun-filled artist's loft for a session that feels as creative as it is intimate. 

“Music in this type of space, in this natural lit open space... it's reminiscent of how music is made, when it's really made. You know, when it's rehearsed in people's living rooms, and in their basements before it even gets to the studio," Fathallah says. "That's what music really looks like especially in Iowa, where folks are just making music in their homes.”

Phil Roeder

Jackson Pollock's "Mural" is the most famous work of art owned by the University of Iowa. The piece is seen as one of Pollock's most important works, and it marked a shift in styles during Pollock's career as an artist.

Mural was saved during the floods of 2008, sent to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to be restored, and has been on tour ever since. It will return to Iowa City when the new University of Iowa Museum of Art is ready.

Courtesy of Joe Heath

Generations of Iowans have been inspired by stories told about Nile Kinnick, Jr., winner of the 1939 Heisman Trophy. Now we’re going to have an opportunity to see Kinnick and the other members of his team on the big screen.

The film "The Ironmen" has been in the works for years, but now it’s close to becoming a reality. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with author Tom Lidd. His novel Nile inspired the film.

Justin Hofman/National Geographic


Plastic is cheap, easy to manufacture and endlessly flexible. Over the last 70 years plastic has completely transformed the way we live. This innovation has created a global pollution crisis that threatens humans and wildlife, from the smallest of plankton to blue whales, with more than 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into oceans every year.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the co-leaders of National Geographic's "Source to Sea" plastics initiative, environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck, and marine biologist Heather Koldeway about the causes of this crisis, and steps we can take to reduce plastic pollution at home and around the world.

Monumental change is needed to reduce the impact of plastic on our planet's waterways, but Jambeck and Koldeway say small, everyday lifestyle advancements can help you do your part to reduce single use plastic waste.

Mother Earth News

This winter may feel like it’s never going to end, but spring is on its way and it’s time to starting thinking about your garden.  

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Aaron Steil, Assistant Director of Reiman Gardens, and Richard Jauron, Iowa State University Extension Horticulture Specialist. They talk about selecting seeds for your spring garden and give tips for how to transition your seedlings to the outdoors.

Courtesy of Ann Friedman



Election analysis, friendship hacks, personal finance advice, social media gripes... And a list of Kamala Harris’ favorite snacks?

These are just a few of the topics you might hear discussed when you turn on an episode of the wildly popular podcast, “Call Your Girlfriend,” co-created and co-hosted by journalist and Dubuque-native, Ann Friedman, in the company of her long-distance best friend, Aminatou Sow.

Jared Eberhardt

Writer, actor, and comedian Paul Rust is coming home to perform in the Floodwater Comedy Festival in Iowa City this weekend. 

It's been 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which guaranteed First Amendment rights for public school students. 

The students whose protest of the Vietnam War sparked the legal battle that birthed this legal precedent, Mary Beth and John Tinker, are spending the anniversary in Iowa speaking to students and community members with the goal of amplifying the voices of young activists. 

Chris Carlson/AP

Figure skating pair Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc turned heads with their gold medal-winning routine at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit earlier this year, marking their formal comeback after a terrifying fall left Cain hospitalized with a concussion, and the team's skating future in jeopardy. 

On this Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Cain and LeDuc about their comback, goals, and passions.

Urban Dreams was founded in 1985. Since then it has been making connections, overcoming barriers and changing lives for members of Iowa’s underserved and underrepresented populations by helping people with substance abuse, mental health challenges, criminal records, and improving community relationships with the police.

Tops Images

Facebook turned 15 this month, and 214 million Americans continue to share thoughts, pictures, memes, articles, and propaganda with family, friends, acquaintances, and maybe even strangers. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe starts the hour with a friendship that might never have formed if it weren't for Facebook: her own Facebook and real-life friend Eve Menzel.


There is a stereotype that comes to mind when we talk about eating disorders -- the too thin anorexic or bulimic teenage girl. In reality anyone can have an eating disorder and many who struggle with eating disorders don’t fit this description, and as a result, those people do not get the help they need.

During this Talk of Iowa interview Charity Nebbe talks with Sarah Thompson.

Jorge Mejía peralta / flickr

According to the National Retail Federation, last week Americans spent more than 19 billion dollars on Valentine's Day. Laurie Essig, author of the new book "Love, Inc: Dating Apps, The Big White Wedding, and Chasing the Happily Neverafter" says the reason for that is simple. 

"Love keeps us going in pretty helpless times," she says. "There is something about hopefulness that is hard not to respond to."

Rachel Samerdyke / USFWS Midwest via flickr

A group in Iowa City celebrates Darwin Day every year by highlighting the work of modern evolutionary scientists and providing professional development for science teachers around the state. This year's event is happening Friday and Saturday February 22 and 23, and during this Talk of Iowa conversation, host Charity Nebbe talks with three reserachers who will be presenting at this year's conference. 

Reality television has been a major presence for more than 25 years. After the unprecedented success of MTV’s “The Real World,” this genre exploded.

During this Talk of Iowa interview, Charity Nebbe talks with Racquel Gates, who argues that reality TV is not simply “trashy,” but offers things like nuanced portrayals of women of color and progressive stances on queer identities.

Abingdon Press

For white people who are committed to equity and justice, living in a nation that remains racially unjust and still deeply segregated creates unique challenges.  These challenges begin early in life and impact the racial development of white children in powerful ways.

Artemisia Fioristi

More cut flowers are purchased on Valentine’s Day than on any other day of the year, in spite of the fact that the holiday falls in the dead of winter.

On this Horticulture Day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks to horticulturists Richard Jauron and Cindy Haynes about how to get the most out of your cut flowers. They also share tips for how to bring springtime into our homes by forcing flowering tree and shrub branches into bloom. Later in the hour, Haynes and Jauron answer listener questions.