Arts and Culture

Photo Courtesy of Amber Causey

Amber Causey is a distinguished Army veteran with a master's degree in criminal justice and she is a mother. She's competing for Ms. Veteran America 2017 in October and is hoping to go to law school. She's also a survivor of human trafficking. 

She says after her mom was incarcerated when she was 13, a lot about her life changed. She moved in with her dad, who was abusive, and ended up running away from home and dropping out of high school. 

Courtesy of StoryCorps

Anders Haglund is not your average 12-year-old. He’s observant, insightful, and, according to his mom Jenna, unfazed by the pressures of middle school.

Anders and Jenna stopped by the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to talk about personal integrity, the social hierarchy of middle school, and what they each hope his future holds.

Story Corps is a national initiative to record and collect stories of everyday people.

Finding Joy After the Loss of a Child

Aug 18, 2017
Dr. Richard Deming, Chuck Cutler, and Diane Cutler / Courtesy of StoryCorps

Charlie Cutler of West Des Moines is remembered by friends and family for his infectious smile and cheery disposition. In 2016, Charlie died after a three year battle with cancer. He was 26 years old.

His parents, Diane and Chuck, and his oncologist, Dr. Richard Deming, medical director of Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines and founder of Above and Beyond Cancer, came to the StoryCorps mobile booth in Des Moines to describe how they honor Charlie's legacy after his death.

Deb Zeller

A 20-inch bronze statue in Sioux City has been stolen for the second time in as many years. “Goddess of the Grapes” was reportedly taken sometime around the end of June from the downtown area, though the Sioux City Art Center waited until July 17 to report the theft to police.

Flickr / Phil Roeder

This year, the Iowa State Fair’s youngest thrill seekers will be able to enjoy rides and games away from the faster, taller, scarier rides that are geared towards older children or adults.

Thrill Town is designed for the families who are still pushing around strollers. The idea is to create a calm, kid-friendly atmosphere that’s away from attractions like the "Haunted Mansion" or "Spaceroller."

John Pemble

The Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison is home to more than 300 of Iowa's most dangerous inmates, or otherwise known as "lifers." Hundreds of other men serving time there will eventually return to their communities.

Sixty Years of Seventy-Six Trombones

Aug 3, 2017
Steve Gibbons

December of this year marks the 60th anniversary of the premiere of The Music Man on Broadway; it was written and composed by Mason City native Meredith Willson.  In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what the musical says about Iowa and why the music and story have remained popular.

First, we visit the Des Moines Community Playhouse, which has one last weekend of performances of their production of The Music Man.  We hear from actors Brad Church and Katy Merriman who play Harold Hill and Marian Peroo.  

Drugs, Clemency, and Freedom

Aug 1, 2017
photo submitted

In 2004, Mandy Martinson was addicted to methamphetamine. She helped her drug dealer boyfriend as a way to feed her habit, but when her home was raided and drugs were found she received a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison. She received clemency last year and is now home rebuilding her life. During this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Martinson about her long road to freedom and recovery.

Photo couresty of Kittie Weston-Knauer

Kittie Weston-Knauer is not your typical retiree. At the age of 67, she's the oldest female BMX athlete in the country.

She started racing after her son got into BMX. When given the choice to sit around and do nothing or compete, she says she will always choose to race and will continue with the sport for as long as she can. 

"I have always been competitive," she laughs. "Look, I grew up with five brothers."

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Cooper

Iowan Sarah Cooper recently finished one of the most grueling bike races in the country, Race Across America, placing 10th overall. She was the first woman to cross the finish line. If riding her bike 3,000 miles across the country wasn't hard enough, she did the second half of the race battling a condition called Shermer's Neck, which left her unable to hold her head up. 

Can I Pick It? Garden Harvest Advice

Jul 28, 2017
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Chiot's Run

On this horticulture day edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with horticulturists Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension and Aaron Steil of Reiman Gardens.

Tomatoes are relatively easy to check for ripeness, but other garden fare can be tough, especially with underground vegetables.  

For new potatoes, Steil says that you need to wait until the tops dieback.

Sarah Boden/Iowa Public Radio

To some visitors, the corpse flower smells more like garbage than rotting mammal. The rare Sumatran plant, also known as Titan arum, is believed to be the first corpse flower of this variety to bloom in Iowa.

Titan arum was expected to blossom last week, but the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden says scorching temperatures of high 90s likely delayed the plant’s unfurling. Cooler weather has arrived and the garden's staff says the corpse flower opened and began emitting its infamous stench sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 am on Tuesday.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The corpse flower at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens still hasn’t bloomed and last week's scorching temperatures might be to blame.

This variety of corpse flower, Titan arum, comes from Sumatra, an Indonesian island known for its rugged, tropical terrain. For this reason, you’d think the plant fared well during last week’s scorching temperatures.

Michael Leland/IPR

This year’s RAGBRAI route includes six pass-through towns that have never before participated in the annual, week-long bike ride across Iowa. Those communities are Thornton, Lawler, Castalia, Postville, Waterville and Harpers Ferry. 

Lawler city council member John Ezer says he's excited that more than 10,000 RAGBRAI riders are biking through to his northeastern Iowa town on Thursday. Ezer calls it an opportunity for his community of fewer than 420 people to show off their businesses and nonprofits.

Omar Bárcena / Flickr

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected interviews with more than 400,000 Americans across the country. Now StoryCorps' mobile booth is coming to Iowa.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the founder of StoryCorps, David Isay, interview facilitator Emily Janssen, as well as Iowa Public Radio's Katherine Perkins, who reminisces about the stories collected the last time StoryCorps was in the state. She says that facilitating interviews and producing the stories that came from them was a life changing experience.

Courtesy of Rodney Lewis

Rodney’s Kitchen is a new restaurant in downtown Waterloo. It started as a catering business and small 

counter service, but the owner Rodney Lewis just opened at a new location downtown with a menu that mixes American grill, soul food, and Mediterranean dishes.

Like any other restaurant owner, Lewis is hoping to secure a loyal clientele with great food and great service, but he also has another mission. He’s giving away lunches to local kids who need them, because he says he knows what it’s like to be hungry. 

Sara Hill

French master chef David Baruthio's career has taken him all over the world. He has opened restaurants in many countries and here in Iowa, including Baru 66 and Prime Land and Sea in Des Moines. Baruthio explains that as a master chef he considers cooking to be an art, a craft, and a passion.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

One of the smelliest varieties of corpse flowers will be blooming in about 10 days at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The Titan arum comes from Sumatra and is exceptionally rare.

While there have been other types of corpse flowers in Iowa, the Botanical Garden says it believes this is state’s first Titan arum to bloom. The plant has evolved to smell like the flesh of a rotting mammal.

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How many churches are there in Des Moines? How many mosques, temples, or places of worship are there? More than you might think. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Tim Knepper, editor of the new book A Spectrum of Faith that was put together by more than one-hundred students at Drake University and highlights the religious diversity of Iowa.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

This program originally aired November 18, 2015.

Jazz is American music. It was born in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, and it continues to evolve. During this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe hosts a discussion about Iowa's jazz scene in the past, present, and future. 

Bravo Greater Des Moines

As the annual Des Moines Arts Festival gets underway, an arts support council is releasing an economic impact study. The results are meant to show the arts contribute to more than just the quality of life.

The study for the organization Bravo Greater Des Moines was conducted by the national group Americans for the Arts. It shows the arts are a $185 million industry in Central Iowa and employ nearly 5,700 full-time workers. The executive director of Bravo, Sally Dix, says the arts play a serious economic role.

Iowa State University College of Design

This program originally aired on October 14, 2015.

The act of making art can be powerful on a personal level, but it can also be a powerful force in a community. 

"Public art is like locally grown food," says Tom Stancliffe, art professor and sculptor at the University of Northern Iowa. "There's value in having the people around you shape the space."

Iowa Violinist Combines Old and New

Jun 20, 2017
Lisa Dondlinger

In high school and college, Lisa Dondlinger was seriously involved in music and academics, and at first, she hesitated when asked to participate in the Miss Iowa Pageant in 1998. She did so and won that competition. Later, she says she turned down offers to work as an orchestral violinist and instead moved to L.A. where she became a studio musician. She is included in recordings for many movies, and she has played with musicians like Celine Dion, Paul McCartney, and the band Kiss.

Iowans Helping Syrians

Jun 20, 2017
Photo submitted

Ethan and Bethany Anderson of West Liberty recently returned from spending time in Mafraq, Jordan.  The trip was to assist refugees that had relocated from Syria.  On this World Refugee Day, Talk of Iowa host Charity Nebbe talks with Bethany and Ethan about how the trip went, what they saw, and what the condition are like for refugees there.

On the trip, Ethan and Bethany were joined by local staff and volunteers of the Alliance Church.

International Jugglers' Association

The 70th International Juggler’s Association Festival is set to take place at Cedar Rapids’ Paramount Theater on July 10-16th. The festival will include technical training workshops, a juggling history museum, a youth showcase performance, and a free ‘learning zone’ for aspiring jugglers.

The festival will open with a Welcome Show on Tuesday and close out with a show by the Cascade of Stars on Saturday, which is comprised of professional juggling and circus acts from around the world.

Tips for Family Vacations

Jun 15, 2017

What's the point of a family vacation? Every family is different, but there are some things people can do to better ensure success. In this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks about how spending time on a vacation together can be healthy and meaningful. 

Joining the program is Karen Melton, an assistant professor of Child and Family Studies at Baylor University in Texas. Melton says that time with family should be intentional time together, but that doesn't mean every moment must be together. 

Toy Tractors and Codex Collections

Jun 14, 2017
Ben Stanton/IPR

Farm toys can be toy tractors, harvesters, plows, and other equipment.  Some are meant to be played with, and others—the "precision models"—many people take great care to keep in good shape.  During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what farm toys mean to collectors. 

Guests include Kate Bossen of Bossen Implement in Lamont; Amanda Schwartz, the manager of the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville; and Chuck Steffens from Sherrill, who makes custom parts to add to the farm toy models.

Iowa Public Radio / John Pemble

In the basement of the State Historical Museum of Iowa there’s a box of hairless, 18-inch porcelain dolls. They each bear a passing likeness to Mrs. Billie Ray, the wife of Robert Ray, Iowa’s 38th governor.

“It looks like we have Billie Rays at least to last for another, just counting, so we got six, seven Billie Ray figures still that can be dressed as first ladies,” explains Leo Landis, Iowa’s state historian. 

szjeno09190

With summer just around the corner, strawberry season is upon us. The impending warm weather raises many questions for Iowans about how to care for their own strawberries. Whether you're searching for the perfect berry at the market, or trying to figure out how to properly manage the runners on your strawberry plants at home, our horticulture experts are here with what you need to know to keep your summer filled to the brim with fresh strawberries.

TheeErin / Flickr

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani is a Los Angeles-based writer, actor, and comedian; and he’s conquering Hollywood as the writer and director of the new romantic comedy, The Big Sick, coming out this July.  

Before his film debuts, he's headed back to Iowa to speak at Grinnell College's commencement ceremony on Monday, May 22nd.

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