WONKS! Episode 9
"Politics at the Fair!"

Iowa is known for its first-in-the-nation caucuses, but only WONKS! has the infamous war stories of the political wannabes as they out-huckster the midway barkers for Iowans’ attention. 


WONKS! Exclusive
"Michael Avenatti tests the presidential waters in Iowa!"

He’s best known for being Stormy Daniels’ attorney, but Michael Avenatti is at the Iowa State Fair, doing what candidates do, hanging with local Democratic political operatives and seeing if there’s support for a presidential bid.

WONKS! Presents
"Sports & the Media ...and a Little Politics - Part 2"

WONKS! drills deeper into the issue of "Sports & the Media" as we hear about college athletics from the business side. When did athletic departments get so powerful – and how did it happen? Are there racial barriers in college sports? And we discuss the plight of the youngest athletes, from participation trophies to the over emphasis on sport specialization. 


"Sports & the Media ...and a Little Politics - Part 1"


The chemistry & conflict of sports goes beyond the teams and events. It's in the media coverage. It's in the administration by owners, coaches and boards. It's even among the athletes themselves. In this WONKS!, the first of two dealing with the topic, we hear from Iowa Cubs Owner Michael Gartner; journalists Andy Garman, Tom Witosky, and Heather Burnside; iconic athletes Natasha Kaiser-Brown and Adam Emenecker; and University of Missouri Associate Athletic Director Brian Brown. Hosted by Kevin Cooney and recorded live from Noce Jazz Cabaret in Des Moines.

WONKS! is politics like you’ve never seen!

A delightful discussion and debate where the emphasis is on fun. Campaign managers, staffers, reporters and more telling tales you’ve never heard from behind the scenes of the biggest political campaigns.


"Bonnie Campbell on the Future of Women in Iowa Politics"


Our May WONKS! looked at "Women & Politics" and we focused on the experiences of our panelists. In this Wee WONKS!, former Attorney General and former candidate for governor Bonnie Campbell may surprise you with her assessment of future female empowerment.

"Female Groundbreakers: Journalist O. Kay Henderson
and Pollster Ann Selzer"

WONKS! Questioners Ann Selzer and Kay Henderson - both successful in their fields - talk of their experience with gender prejudice and whether they feel they've reached the "mountaintop."


"Mary Kramer's Musical Interpretation of the Iowa Legislature"


Mary Kramer was invited to be one of the panelists for the WONKS! "Women & Politics" show in May. You may know we record our podcasts at the Noce Jazz Cabaret, where there is always a piano present. Host Kevin Cooney had asked Mary a few days before whether she'd like to entertain during intermission, but it would be our secret. We only had one microphone in that part of the stage and hadn't planned on making a podcast from it but it turned out to be the surprise of the night, and we couldn't resist sharing. Enjoy!

"Women & Politics"


 This month it's Women & Politics, and our experienced panel will take a detailed look at all aspects of the political world from their perspectives.

We will have those who have been elected and those who have led campaigns.

Mary Kramer’s life includes extensive experience in politics, business and education. She has served as an Ambassador, President of the Iowa Senate and recently was tasked with advising lawmakers on eliminating harassment in the Iowa Senate.

Bonnie Campbell served as Iowa’s Attorney General and ran for governor. She was selected by President Clinton to establish the Office On Violence Against Women in the U. S. Department of Justice. She is a powerful voice in Iowa Democratic politics.

Melissa Gesing made headlines during the most recent Presidential Campaign. She was serving as president of the Iowa Federation if Republican Women but decided to resign because, in her words, “I cannot in good conscience lead this organization or look at myself in the mirror each morning if I do not take a stand against the racism, sexism and hate that Donald J. Trump continues to promote.”

Jessica Vanden Berg managed Christie Vilsack’s congressional campaign, served as chief of staff for Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, was a senior advisor to Senator James Webb of Virginia and currently is a partner in the political consulting firm of Maverick Strategies and Mail.

The conversation includes veteran journalist O. Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa, and nationally recognized pollster Ann Selzer.

Co-hosts Dennis Goldford and I will take a proverbial back seat for most of the show because we feel we just should. Seriously. The topic is Women & Politics, not women and a couple of guys and politics!

April WONKS!
Episode 5:
"Millenials & Politics"

From the panelists to the inquisitors, this month’s WONKS! turns to younger demographics for answers as Eric Branstad, Jimmy Centers, Judy Downs and Kimberley Boggus answer questions from the Register’s Jason Noble and Iowa Public Radio’s Clay Masters. Old Fart co-hosts Dennis Goldford and Kevin Cooney will try to figure out what they’re talking about.


WONKS! Episode 4
"The Iowa Caucuses"


Joining us for our February panel: Former Congressman Dave Nagle - one author called him "the father of the Iowa Caucus."  And they’ve called on "father" to come and look at how to improve the modern caucuses heading up the Dems’ Caucus Review Committee.

Story County Democratic Chair Jan Bauer - Jan has served on the National Democratic Unity Commission which is looking at changes that would allow more transparent reporting of results and provisions for absentee balloting. Jan also is Iowa Democratic National Committeewoman.

Republican Consultant Eric Woolson started as a statehouse journalist for the Waterloo Courier and then got into the weeds as communication director for Terry Branstad. Later he managed caucus campaign communications for George W. Bush, Tim Pawlenty and was campaign manager for Mike Huckabee in 2008. So where did the Joe Biden Campaign Communications Director job come from?

David Oman returns to the panel. The only person to serve as chief of staff for two governors (Branstad and Ray) he has also served as GOP Chair and long time Republican consultant and confidant to many campaigns.

Joining Dennis and Kevin with questions will be: 

Dave Price, WHO-TV Political Director,  who authored the book Caucus Chaos. It is the definitive look at the craziness of the 2012 Republican caucuses. If you haven’t read it, check it out here on Amazon. (paperback or Kindle.) He knows what questions to ask.

Ann Selzer is simply “the best pollster in politics” according tofivethirtyeight.com. Not the best in Iowa or the midwest. Just the best. Anywhere. She says what sets her apart is “the discipline of research. I am data-driven.” She knows what questions to ask.

And we did mention Dennis Goldford before and we certainly need to mention that he is co-author of The Iowa Precinct Caucuses, The Making of a Media Event. That volume, written with Hugh Winebrenner, is the bible when it comes to caucus books. He knows what questions to ask, too.

WONKS! Episode 3:
"Politics & the Press" 

The top names in Iowa journalism will be on our panel. And look who will be asking the questions with Dennis Goldford and Kevin Cooney: The Chairs of the Iowa Democratic and Republican Parties!

That’s right. Troy Price and Jeff Kaufmann will be in the seats usually occupied by reporters while Michael Gartner, Carol Hunter, Dave Busiek and Erin Murphy will be on the receiving end. Of course, your microphone is always open at WONKS to give your 2 cents worth. (BTW, why did the Register drop that column?)

If you’re not familiar with the panelists, here’s a brief look:

Michael Gartner is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has been President of NBC News, Editor of the Des Moines Register, Page One Editor of the Wall Street Journal, Owner of the Ames Tribune. He has served on the State Board of Regents and the Vision Iowa Program. He currently is Chairman of the Iowa Cubs.

Carol Hunter is the Executive Editor of the Des Moines Register, directing digital and print coverage of Register journalists. In 13 years with the newspaper, she has served as Editorial Page Editor, Politics Editor and News Director.

Dave Busiek is KCCI-TV’s News Director, a position he has held for 27 years. During that time he also has served as Chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). He has received numerous awards including News Director of the Year from Broadcasting and Cable and a Silver Circle Award from the Upper Midwest Chapter of the Television Academy.

Erin Murphy is known to thousands of Iowans as their reporter in Des Moines. He is the Des Moines Bureau Chief for Lee Enterprises, reporting for the Mason City Globe Gazette, Quad-City Times, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Sioux City Journal and Muscatine Journal.


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