JOHNSTON, IOWA (September 22, 2022) — Iowa PBS’s series Iowa Press, the state’s longest-running news interview program, has reached a broadcasting milestone — in August 2022, the series began its fiftieth season.
First broadcast in October 1971, Iowa Press began as a monthly program, airing on the third Sunday of each month. Throughout its fifty-year history, the series has engaged the best local journalists to interview experts, politicians, and other newsworthy figures while exploring issues of state and national interest.
“Iowa Press is our state's premier television program for politics and public policy discussion,” said Iowa PBS Director of Programming and Production Andrew Batt. “A half-century of presidents, governors, and public officials have engaged local journalists in front of a statewide audience. Our role in Iowa's public discourse is as important today as when the program began fifty seasons ago.”
During its five decades on the air, Iowa Press has had four hosts — James Flansburg, 1971–1975; Dean Borg, 1975–2017; David Yepsen, 2017–2021; and Kay Henderson, 2021–present. In its early seasons, the program was described as “purposely non-structured” without pre-scripted question sequences. Now, Iowa Press reporters spend multiple days each week brainstorming potential questions for each guest. On the day of the taping, reporters and program producers meet ahead of time and finalize the questions.
A wide variety of guests have been featured over the past fifty years, including former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush, George W Bush, Barack Obama, and President Joe Biden. Every Iowa governor since Robert D Ray has appeared multiple times, with former Governor Terry Branstad becoming one of the program’s most frequent guests throughout his six terms. He first appeared on the series in 1978 during the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.
In 2010, the program launched a debate series, Iowa Press Debates. These special, one-hour editions have covered more than twenty different debates with candidates running for Congress, Senate and governor.
The vast majority of recordings have taken place in Iowa PBS’s studios in Johnston, but episodes have also been recorded in high-school auditoriums, community centers, the Iowa State Capitol, and even at the Iowa State Fair Cattle Barn.
In addition to its statewide broadcast, Iowa PBS .1 is available to livestream on iowapbs.org/watch, pbs.org/livestream, the PBS Video App, and YouTube TV. Iowa PBS programs, behind-the-scenes extras, and more can be enjoyed on iowapbs.org, Facebook, and YouTube. Viewers can also stream their favorite shows on demand using the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, and many streaming devices.
As Iowa's only statewide television network, Iowa PBS’s mission to educate, inform, enrich, and inspire Iowans guides its quality, non-commercial programming that tells Iowa's stories like no one else can. Four statewide, public channels offer programs of lasting value to Iowans, regardless of where they live or what they can afford: Iowa PBS .1, Iowa PBS KIDS .2, Iowa PBS WORLD .3 and Iowa PBS Create .4 on Channel 11, Des Moines; Channel 12, Iowa City; Channel 21, Fort Dodge; Channel 24, Mason City; Channel 27, Sioux City; Channel 32, Waterloo; Channel 32, Council Bluffs; Channel 36, Davenport; and Channel 36, Red Oak. More information can be found at iowapbs.org.