Iowa Public Radio FY 2019 ANNUAL REPORT: JULY 1, 2018 – JUNE 30, 2019

In FY 2019, IPR focused on laying a foundation for our future. As people consume news, information and music in new ways, IPR focused on meeting our listeners where they are — anywhere.

A Message from IPR Leadership

When I reflect back on the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019, I am in awe of the productivity and output by our organization. We thank you for helping Iowa Public Radio be a top-performing news and culture organization in our state.

Audiences have become accustomed to a world with a fast paced and never-ending news cycle, and yet, our IPR news team continues to cut through much of the noise and keep you up-to-date with the most important news and information of the day. This team makes tough decisions on how best to bring you the news of the day, especially when historic events are unfolding. This sometimes means cutting away from our regular programming to bring you special coverage, and increasingly, also bringing you coverage on our website, through your smart speaker or through podcasts. We know you’re interested in the world around you - not only locally, but also nationally and globally. In FY 2019, we grew our news team, developed a new podcast, Caucus Land and brought Gas Money, a showcase of local music piloted on our streaming service, to our weekend broadcast lineup. And we also brought you your favorite national shows: Morning Edition, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and the BBC. We do our best to be there for you with the best programming available each time you tune in.

IPR is also looking to the future. We were proud to be one of just 17 stations across the country chosen to participate in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Digital Culture Accelerator, helping IPR adjust as technology and listening patterns change. Through our strategic plan, we are laying a foundation for future growth. In FY 2019 we were fortunate to work with a long-time listener who was interested in partnering with us on our long-term success with a significant gift. These conversations led to the creation of an Innovation Fund and we’re excited to be able to share how that gift is impacting IPR in next year's report.

None of this would be possible without you. Increased support by listeners, foundations and businesses has led to several years of steady growth, allowing us to bring you consistent high-quality programming and enriching the civic and cultural life in Iowa.

Throughout this year’s annual report, we reflect on the past year and share what that means for IPR looking forward.

- Myrna Johnson, IPR Executive Director

My role as Chair of the Iowa Public Radio Board of Directors has been rewarding as I have been working closely with the IPR team to make sure Iowa Public Radio remains healthy and continues to grow. As we look to the future, we felt it was time to add more representation from around Iowa, so we began the process of changing our by-laws to increase the size of our board of directors. Recently, we welcomed four new members to the Board of Directors, and will continue to add more board members with diverse perspectives in coming years.

Transmitters at two of IPR’s largest stations, WOI and KSUI, are in need of replacement. Our licenses are owned by Iowa’s three state universities so I, along with IPR Executive Director Myrna Johnson, and other board members, spent a good portion of time talking with our legislators, Board of Regents, and university leaders about this need and to ask for a funding allocation. We were not successful in 2019 but we continue to advance our case for support in 2020.

Iowa Public Radio has strong annual operational support, thanks to members like you. The IPR board and staff continue to look to the future and plans for growing the organization’s endowment, improving our studios and preparing for the 100th anniversary of some of our stations in 2022.

- Marsha Ternus, Chair of IPR's Board of Directors

"Returned to Iowa after a 3,000 mile drive. When IPR came on, I knew I was home."

- Sherene, Mount Vernon, IA

IPR Mission

Iowa Public Radio enriches the civic and cultural life in Iowa through high quality news and cultural programming.

Who We Reach

"I love IPR, especially Talk of Iowa and River to River and I rarely listen to anything else!"

- Dan, Riverside, IA


“Lindsey Moon and I are leading IPR’s digital efforts in this newly formed department. This has been on the strategic roadmap for a while and we spent the latter half of FY 2019 working across other departments to develop best practices that will increase visibility and exposure to the high-quality news and programming being delivered by our staff each and every day.”

– Matt Sieren, IT/Digital Manager

In FY 2019, we put together IPR’s first digital team. Their focus is to deliver IPR's content to a growing digital audience. This was an important step for Iowa Public Radio because our audiences are accessing news, information and music through not only the radio, but also through our website, social media platforms, online streaming and on-demand via the IPR app. Our audiences expect and trust what they hear from Iowa Public Radio on the air, so it’s vitally important that the same high-quality experience be found across all access points. We began this work last year with the help of NPR and Q-Catalyst through a Digital Cultural Accelerator, and we’ve made significant strides in a relatively short amount of time. We’re excited for this effort to grow in FY 2020 and beyond.

Top FY 2019 stories our audience engaged with digitally:

  1. Specially Trained Dogs Help Conservationists Find Rare Iowa Turtles
  2. Longest-Serving Republican Lawmaker At Iowa Capitol Joins Democrats
  3. Gov. Reynolds: Allowing Birth Control Without Prior Prescription Is ‘The Right Thing To Do’
  4. Donations Pour Into Northwest Iowa Library After Man Burns LGBTQ Books
  5. Study Finds Thousands Of Iowans Are Drinking Contaminated Well Water
  6. Human Trafficking in Iowa: The Facts
  7. Update: Murder Charges Filed In Tibbetts Disappearance And Death
  8. Researchers Find Disease-Causing Parasite, Bacteria In Northwest Iowa Waters
  9. Researchers Say Largest Monarch Butterfly Population In Over A Decade Could Migrate To Iowa
  10. Iowa Agrees To Change Special Education Practices; Advocates Wonder If It’s Enough
"I’m a snowbird and have downloaded the app so I can listen in my travels."

- Don, New Windsor, IL

Your Source for Iowa and NPR News

“As I reflect on this past fiscal year, the news and talk team worked hard to lay the groundwork necessary to cover the heavy reporting days as the Iowa caucuses approached. That work will help carry us into the 2020 election. We also integrated a new health beat into our coverage and developed two new podcasts, which had a steep learning curve, but ultimately has given us the experience and confidence to consider new projects more readily as we plan for the future.”

– Katherine Perkins, News/Talk Program Director

News and Talk

Awards: River to River won first place at PRNDI for an interview with a victim of human trafficking; Talk of Iowa won second place in News/Public Affairs for “Mollie Tibbetts: A Runner Who Never Came Home.” In addition, 3 first place reporting awards from the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association and the Iowa Broadcast News Association and 4 awards of merit.

Grew our reporting team: Through a partner grant from Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, we hired Natalie Krebs to cover the health beat. Because of this grant, IPR is now able to participate in Side Effects, a regional health reporting collaboration.

Developed Caucus Land: A podcast following the 2020 Iowa precinct caucuses, candidates and campaign and the history of the caucuses. Months of planning went into the development of this new podcast, led by hosts Clay Masters and Kate Payne, which launched just before the Iowa State Fair.

Created concept for Bike Shorts: A weeklong podcast hosted by Ben Kieffer as he cycles across Iowa for RAGBRAI in FY 2020 interviewing people and reporting the sights and sounds along the route.

Increased visibility nationally: Through collaboration with The NPR Politics Podcast and NHPR to interview all Democratic presidential candidates.

Produced midterm election night coverage: Including a live broadcast of acceptance speeches from Governor Kim Reynolds, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer and others using newly purchased field equipment.

Continued our partnerships with: The Gazette, around Pints and Politics and the Iowa Ideas conference, and with Iowa Watch for data reporting projects and live storytelling events in Iowa City.

Established a partnership: With UI School of Law moderating question and answer sessions with Levitt Lecturers Cokie Roberts and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"You wake me up at 6 a.m. every morning. I’m up to date before I get out of bed. Thanks."

- Scott, Fort Dodge, IA

Your Daily Soundtrack

"In FY 2019, we took some time to review the strategic direction of our Classical and Studio One programming. What grew from that process was the launch of Choral Iowa, the addition of Gas Money to our regular schedule, and the development of a new music series, The Steinway Café, and deeper partnerships with some of the festivals we collaborate with in the summer. Looking ahead, we’re excited to enhance our music programming with video formatted for YouTube so that music featured on IPR can be discoverable in new ways.”

– Al Schares, Music Program Director

Studio One

Supported the local music scene and engaged with younger audiences.

IPR Stage at 80/35 Music Festival: Our final year as a smaller stage before moving to a new stage location with a larger presence in FY 2020. Sixteen bands performed, as a large crowd engaged with us throughout the weekend.

Hinterland Music Festival: Our interviews with performers, including Nathaniel Rateliff, Band of Horses, J Roddy Walston and others at the Hinterland Music Festival shared more insight for our digital audience about the artists performing while we stayed engaged with festival-goers at our busy membership booth all weekend long.

We added Gas Money, a showcase of local musicians piloted on our streaming service, to our weekend broadcast lineup.

Engaged with our Studio One audience at our monthly Studio One Underground shows at the Des Moines Social Club.

"Keep it Groovin’ Bob!"

- Kelly, Mechanicsville, IA

Your Classical Companion


The Steinway CaféOur 1918 Steinway Model B grand piano was refurbished in FY 2019 thanks to a $25,000 grant from the W.T. and Edna M. Dahl Trust. We reached out to some of the great pianists in our state asking them to take part in a piano series called The Steinway Café, designed to celebrate the rebirth of this amazing instrument. Future performances will include pianists from Iowa Regents institutions as well as Drake University, Grinnell College and Luther College.

Launched Choral Iowa: The project highlights a uniquely Iowa phenomena – a vibrant choral music culture. The project includes posts, guest articles, and an events calendar covering Iowa’s choral music scene.

"I’m a transplanted Iowan. I appreciate that I can stream IPR while I’m at work."

- Beth, West Monroe, LA

Community Events + Impact

Brought major national shows to Iowa with nearly sold out crowds.

  • Snap Judgment with Glynn Washington at the Englert Theater in Iowa City in November 2018.
  • It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders in Des Moines in April 2019.

Engaged our audience in local events.

  • Third and final Public Radio on Tap event covering water quality at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City in July 2018. Attendance was 200+; and we partnered with Minnesota Public Radio and their national call-in news program, Flyover.
  • Open houses at all IPR studios.

Spent time with our listeners out in the community.

Yankee Doodle Pops, Des Moines Arts Festival, Ingersoll Live, RAGBRAI and more.

Built a translator station in Iowa City, 95.3 FM.

This improves our News/Studio One offerings in Iowa City.

Vehicle donations to IPR often come with inspiring stories and add up to more than $100,000 in support for the station each year.

Garang Majouk stopped by Iowa Public Radio and dropped off his 1994 Buick LeSabre in the parking lot to benefit the station as part of NPR’s vehicle donation program. He and his cousin came to Iowa from Sudan in 2000 and 2001 and said they've listened to Iowa Public Radio every single day since arriving here nearly two decades ago.

"Greetings from Czech Republic! I listen to IPR and Talk of Iowa everyday – it’s my home away from home. Thanks."

- Sonya, Czech Republic & Cedar Rapids, IA

Financial Report

The consolidated financials for FY 2019 represents the financial activity for the WOI Radio Group, the KSUI Radio Group, the KUNI Radio Group and Iowa Public Radio, Inc.
"I grew up as a back seat listener, IPR has been a constant in my life."

- Nancy, Collins, IA

FY 2019 Board of Directors

  • Marsha Ternus – Chair
  • Robert Downer – Vice Chair
  • Douglas West – Treasurer
  • Steve Firman – Secretary
  • Andrew Morse
  • John McCarroll
  • Jeneane Beck
  • Julie Monson
  • Mary Kramer
  • Vickee Jordan Adams
  • Zachary Mannheimer

Corporate Sponsors


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Because IPR is member-supported, community-based public media, your contribution is vitally important to sharing high quality news and music to the entire state.

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"Growing up, my parents always had the radio tuned into IPR, and its programs play in the background of many of my childhood memories. I’m proud to be a sustaining member and continue their legacy of support."

- Grace, Mount Vernon, IA

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Photo credits: John Pemble, Madeleine King, Jared Krauss and Casey Austen for IPR

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