Despite the failed reporting system for caucus results, the lead up to the 2020 Iowa caucuses was a whirlwind of activity on the campaign trail trying to keep up with the nearly two dozen candidates vying for the Presidential nomination.
IPR’s Clay Masters, Kate Payne and John Pemble won a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for their podcast, Caucus Land, and there were 300,000 + downloads from people all across the country.
Additional Recognition and Awards
IPR’s Kate Payne also won a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her piece on turtle-sniffing dogs.
IPR’s talk shows also won regional Eric Sevareid awards for a number of shows, the IPR News team for their Iowa in Focus series on the changing population in Iowa, and Grant Gerlock and Amy Mayer won for their reporting (see press release).
Covering the coronavirus
River to River went underground and Ben Kieffer brought us his weekday show from his basement while the news team created makeshift home studios to record their stories and interviews, and once it was safer, they went back out into the field to cover the world’s most important story and its impact here in Iowa.
Talk of Iowa shifted to serve Iowa listeners with content they needed while managing work and school from their homes: from supporting parents and students with content on history and wildlife, to Talk of Iowa Summer Camp, launching a new book club for avid readers, and more.
In the spring of 2019, IPR News participated in The America Amplified: Life, Community, and COVID-19 live talk show – hosted by stations across the country — to explore local community perspectives and solutions to some of the most important issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic. Charity Nebbe co-hosted on May 9 with Boise State Public Radio’s Gemma Gaudette. You can listen here.
Come April, with nearly all large events and shows canceled for the foreseeable future, Studio One Underground, which had recently created a new partnership with xBk in Des Moines as the new venue for its monthly shows, had to get creative in supporting the Iowa music scene.
The music team created a weekly Tunesday series in the spring with sponsorship support from the Friends of KUNI.
These virtual shows were livestreamed on YouTube and/or Facebook Live and featured musicians such as:
The Steinway Café also went virtual and continued to bring classical music into homes and workspaces over the lunch hour.
IPR Classical host, Barney Sherman, developed a weekly series called House Calls. He phoned an Iowa musician at home and asked them to play deejay and choose their favorite classical recordings and tell listeners why. Iowa musicians who served as deejay included, Tim Hankewich, Nicholas Roth, Professor of Piano at Drake University, and more.
In FY 2020, IPR welcomed several new faces to the team:
We also thanked a couple staff for their time and contributions to IPR and wished them well in their retirement.
We also had to say a hard goodbye due to the passing of our beloved colleague Dean Borg, longtime Iowa Public Radio political correspondent and former host of Iowa PBS’s Iowa Press.
Our members and their support are the heartbeat of Iowa Public Radio and when we learned of our funding situation, fundraising and member support became all the more vital. Our membership staff figured out a way to safely connect with each other and engage listener support in a moment of such uncertainty for everyone. They did it without interrupting or changing our programming format because every minute of the news from March through now was needed to share information. And, to our joy, our listeners came through as heroes and have helped stabilize our finances this past year.
We thank each and every one of you who contributed to our continued success. We really do consider you the MVPs of Team IPR this year!
Digital and Marketing
We are fortunate to have invested in our digital and marketing teams last year and it became apparent that we did so at the right time, because as more people stayed home, the traffic to our website and streaming services exploded. We were able to not only improve the visuals and increase the amount of content in our digital coverage around the caucuses, but when COVID-19 hit, this team developed a daily liveblog and newsletter to help deliver the most up-to-date information to people. This newsletter has transitioned into our Daily Digest because our subscribers appreciate this daily news summary delivered to their inbox.
Much of the year was also spent training and gearing up for the launch of our new website. IPR was the fifth station in all of public radio and television to transition to Grove — NPR’s new content management system.
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.
Become a member.
"I'm proud to be a sustaining member because I'm proud of all the IPR staff and the quality work they do to keep us all informed. It's like having a best friend you can count on to discuss what's going on in the world, challenge and support you to grow as a human being, introduce you to music you haven't heard, and who makes you laugh on the weekends!"
– Nancy Romine — Coralville, Iowa