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Riverside Chats

Riverside Chats

By Riverside Chats
Riverside Chats is a series of conversations hosted by Tom Knoblauch and Maria Corpuz exploring culture of all kinds, broadcast from the Heartland. Topics include politics, film, business, history, music, and much, more more.
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38. Filmmaker Georg Joutras on 'Ocean of Grass: Life on a Nebraska Sandhills Ranch'

Riverside Chats

120. Rachel Gibson and Sarah Smolen on Navigating the Culture War over Public Education
The culture war these days is heavily focused on schools, with many prominent elected officials in Nebraska calling for defunding public education in favor of vouchers for charter schools. Today Rachel Gibson and Sarah Smolen discuss the education climate, how to navigate a culture war that often is intentionally vague and operating in bad faith and possible solutions they are offering through their work on the Education Policy Action Team for the League of Women Voters of Nebraska, which has just launched Schools 101: an awareness initiative for parents, neighbors, community groups, advocacy groups, and anyone impacted by public education here in Nebraska.  Learn more about Schools 101 here.
September 23, 2022
119. Wes Dodge on the Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting and the Dangers of Dark Money
Wes Dodge is on the boards for Rank the Vote Nebraska, Common Cause Nebraska, Represent Us Omaha, and Non-Partisan Nebraska. He sees the possibility of meaningful reforms to our political chaos through adopting ranked choice elections and moving toward a nonpartisan vision of governance instead of our highly polarized current climate. Today he and Tom talk about what ranked choice voting would look like compared to what we are used to as well as how polarization is largely rooted in monied interests obscuring what voters want and keeping the focus on culture war noise.
September 17, 2022
118. Lisa Knopp on Redemption, Capital Punishment, and Her New Book ‘From Your Friend, Carey Dean: Letters from Nebraska’s Death Row'
Dr. Lisa Knopp teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has written several books, including Bread, What the River Carries, and Field of Vision. Her latest book is From Your Friend, Carey Dean: Letters from Nebraska’s Death Row, which chronicles her friendship with Carey Dean Moore, who spent 38 years on death row before his execution in 2018.  On today's show, Knopp discusses how her earlier writing, which was largely focused on place, has come to encompass the broader political questions of why and how a place becomes what it is, as well as how she came to be a death penalty abolitionist in a state where many in the largely Christian culture support capital punishment instead of the possibility of redemption. Check out her book here. 
September 08, 2022
117. Nebraska State Legislature Candidate Cindy Maxwell-Ostdiek on the Benefits of Nonpartisan Governing
Cindy Maxwell-Ostdiek is an independent candidate running to represent District 4 on Nebraska's State Legislature. She is the president of Rank the Vote Nebraska and serves on the advisory board for Nonpartisan Nebraska. Today she outlines her vision for a nonpartisan approach to governing as both a way to address hyperpolarization and to better ensure that constituent concerns get represented without the middle man of national party operations.  You can learn more about her campaign here. 
August 27, 2022
116. Graham Christensen on Using Regeneration to Combat Climate Change
A common concern expressed on this show is about not just the climate crisis but the seeming inability that we have to talk about existential risks like global warming because so much of our bandwidth is taken up by the noise of culture wars. In previous conversations regarding updating our grids to accommodate renewable energy, a concept has come up that didn’t get much time but is gaining traction as a model for what can help undo the damage of the past: regeneration. Commonly this is employed through farming and grazing practices that restore degraded soil biodiversity – sequestering carbon and improving the water cycle.  Today Graham Christensen, founder and president of GC Resolve, GC Revolt, and member of Regenerate Nebraska, discusses his work to increase mobilization of the general public in order to build regenerative, resilient communities and equip them with the tools they need to effectively make a difference within the climate crisis, ensuring a stabler, healthier future for not just humans but our ecosystems in general. Reach out to Congressman Bacon with your thoughts on what was discussed in today's episode here. 
August 20, 2022
115. Nebraska State Legislature Candidate Sarah Slattery Pitches a Vision of Government by and for the Average Citizen
Sarah Slattery is running to represent district 2 in the Nebraska State Legislature, a seat currently held by Senator Robert Clements. She tells her story and vision for a legislature that looks like the populace. Her campaign is centered around small businesses, education, school nutrition, healthcare accessibility, and workers' rights. You can learn more here. 
August 14, 2022
114. Alex Jochim and Zach Schmieder on 10 Years of BFF and What to Expect at Petfest
You may or may not know that this show began as a series of live conversations in Benson, before transitioning into a podcast that was recorded at Petshop for almost a year. Petshop is the headquarters for BFF, also known as Benson First Friday, which is celebrating its tenth year of operations as a hub of Omaha artistic expression and bringing the community to the artists. BFF co-founder Alex Jochim is here with Zach Schmeider to discuss BFF’s evolution and its upcoming music festival, Petfest, which will be held on August 13th. Some of the bands and performers at this year’s Petfest include Amulets, Universe Contest, Aly Peeler, Ghost Foot, and Dave Nance. Tickets for Petfest are available now and can be purchased here. 
August 06, 2022
113. Matthew Wurstner on Nebraska's Tax Climate and Why You Should Care
Matthew Wurstner returns to discuss everyone’s favorite subject: taxes. Earlier this year, the Nebraska State Legislature passed what Governor Ricketts called the biggest tax relief measures in Nebraska history. Taxes come up a lot here in assessing quality of life, what a competitive tax climate might mean for retaining young people in the age of brain drain, and in general how our taxes here look compared to similar states. Specifically, Wurstner talks about recent legislative bills 873 and 310 and what they mean for the average Nebraskan and why, even if it doesn't sound exciting, people should pay attention to the shifting tax landscape.
July 30, 2022
112. OPS School Board Candidate Bri Full on Ensuring a Stable, Successful Future for Omaha Education
Bri Full is a candidate for the Omaha Public School Board to represent Subdistrict 2. Full is an active community organizer and policy advisor at the Nebraska State Legislature. On today's show, Full discusses what she believes OPS should do following a mass exodus of hundreds of teachers this spring to ensure a stable, successful future for education in the metro area.
July 23, 2022
111. Joe Pera Talks with Tom
Joe Pera is an comedian, actor, and the creator of the beloved Adult Swim show Joe Pera Talks with You, which just aired its third and final season and is available for streaming on HBO Max. Adult Swim is known for mature, crude programming, so Joe Pera is an unconventional fit with his show that resembles something more like Mr. Rogers than Rick and Morty and emphasizes a quiet comedy rooted in kindness and empathy. Today Pera talk about how he found his voice and where it fits into the comedy landscape of today, which is often cynical and dark, as well as how his persona does and doesn't match with his real life self. Pera will be performing in Omaha at the Admiral on August 6th. Tickets are available here.
July 15, 2022
110. Filmmaker Dan Mirvish on ‘18 ½’ and the Legacy of Watergate
Dan Mirvish is an award winning filmmaker and co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival. His films include Omaha The Movie, Open House, Between Us, and Bernard and Huey. His new film is 18 ½, a Watergate thriller and dark comedy starring Willa Fitzgerald and John Magaro as a transcriptionist and reporter who find the infamous gap of tape in Richard Nixon’s White House recordings. Today Mirvish discusses the film’s thematic relevance to today, how his filmic influences, including mentor Robert Altman, played into its conception, and what the efficacy of political art is in today’s climate.
July 09, 2022
109. Eileen Wirth on 'The Women Who Built Omaha' and the Stability of Progress
Eileen Wirth is professor emeritus of journalism at Creighton University and the author of several books including From Society to Front Page: Nebraska Women in Journalism and A History Lover’s Guide to Omaha. Her latest book is The Women Who Built Omaha: A Bold and Remarkable History, which supplements our city’s story from what has been described as a man’s town by exploring the women who played major roles in education, health, culture, social services, and other fields since Omaha’s founding in 1854. Wirth discusses the women who built Omaha as well as what it means to reframe history by adding what she refers to as missing chapters and how cultural attitudes are impacted by both the absence and presence of women in our shared narratives. Check out the The Women Who Built Omaha here. 
June 26, 2022
108. Erik Larson on Processing the Present Through History and His New Ghost Story 'No One Goes Alone'
Erik Larson is the author of bestselling historical nonfiction like The Devil in the White City, The Splendid and the Vile, and In the Garden of Beasts. Today he discusses how he uses history to process his anxieties about the present and what made him turn to fiction for his latest work, a ghost story called No One Goes Alone, which is exclusively available on Audible.
June 17, 2022
107. Actor/Writer Katie Otten on Her Series 'Inner Worlds' and the Appeal of Personas
Katie Otten is an actor and writer who has worked with just about every local filmmaker and has just launched her first web series called Inner Worlds, which follows a series of friends who engage in a tabletop roleplaying game of the same name. Otten created, wrote every episode of, and stars in Inner Worlds, and every episode is streaming now. Learn more about the project (and support season 2) here.
June 10, 2022
106. Ross Benes Assesses the Strength of the Nebraska Republican Party in 2022 in the Wake of Infighting, Indictments, and Scandals
Ross Benes wrote the 2021 book Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold in which he diagnoses “a gradual shift in the types of candidates we elect to our state legislature and the US Congress." He argues that "[t]he accumulative changes over the past few decades have made it extremely difficult for Democrats to be competitive outside of certain parts of our two biggest cities, Omaha and Lincoln, and even there, it is often an uphill battle for liberals.” He came on the show last year to discuss the cultural landscape of highly loyal GOP voters and today he’s back to assess just how strong that Republican stronghold is in what appears to be a 2022 rocked with scandals, resignations, in-fighting, dark money, and the spectre of Donald Trump.
June 03, 2022
105. Randy Nogg on 'Reefer Madness 2' and Bringing Hollywood to the Heartland
Randy Nogg currently runs the talent agency Actors Etc. Limited and its entertainment division Theater-To-Go. He previously lived in LA where he produced the film Reefer Madness 2, which is now available on Amazon Video, before returning to Omaha to bring a bit of Hollywood back to the Heartland. Today he talks about the way Hollywood dreams entered his Midwestern life and how that brought him on the long journey to both making and distributing his film. 
May 19, 2022
104. Matthew Wurstner on the Origin of Nebraska's Unicameral System
Matthew Wurstner returns to the show for a history of Nebraska's unique system of governance: the unicameral. The unicameral has only one legislative house, an idea that was proposed and fought for by U.S. Sen. George Norris nearly a century ago under the belief that a unicameral legislature would cost less to the taxpayers of Nebraska and would work more efficiently than a two-house legislature. Wurstner chronicles the origin of the concept and how it came to pass in Nebraska, as well as assessing how the original aims line up with the reality in today's polarized world. 
May 13, 2022
103. Congressional Candidate Alisha Shelton on Bringing a New Perspective to the House of Representatives
Alisha Shelton is running to represent Nebraska’s Second Congressional District in the House of Representatives–a seat currently held by incumbent Don Bacon. Today she talks about what motivated her to run, how her legislative style offers a fresh perspective, and what her vision for America would look like.
April 15, 2022
102. OPPD Board of Directors Candidate Craig Moody Envisions a Climate Friendly Omaha
Craig Moody was elected to the Omaha Public Power District in 2016, served as board chair in 2020, and currently serves as the chair of the board’s governance committee. Today he tells his story and makes his case for reelection in order to continue his vision of Omaha’s response to the climate crisis by transitioning to renewable energy and participating in Nebraska’s coordinated plan to become net zero carbon by 2050.
April 10, 2022
101. Congressional Candidate Jazari Kual Zakaria on a Truly Representative Legislative Body
Jazari Kual Zakaria is in the middle of a congressional campaign to represent Nebraska’s First Congressional District in the House of Representatives, a seat held by Republican Jeff Fortenberry for nearly two decades until he resigned from the position in March after being convicted of three felonies. Zakaria is a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a founder of LNK Freedges, an initiative to provide free, fresh food to underserved people in Lincoln. He tells his story on today's show, as a child of refugees and potentially the youngest member of congress should he get elected in a vision of a more representative legislative body that understands the challenges of the average citizen and can address them from a place of understanding that he does not see in the current set of representatives. 
April 01, 2022
100. Congressional Candidate Patty Pansing Brooks Pitches a Vision of Compassionate Government
Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks discusses her upbringing, the formation of her worldview, what working in the Nebraska Legislature has taught her about the process of governing, and how she'd take those lessons to the House of Representatives to represent Nebraska's 1st Congressional District--a seat held by Jeff Fortenberry for nearly twenty years until his resignation this week due to a conviction for lying to federal authorities about campaign donations. 
March 25, 2022
99. Dawaune Lamont Hayes on Omaha's Downtown Library and an Alternate Vision for the Space
Earlier this year, Mayor Jean Stothert announced intentions to give the land where Omaha's downtown library sits to Mutual of Omaha so they can build a new headquarters roughly 20 streets away from their current building in Midtown Crossing. This meant finding new land to develop as a downtown library further from public transportation routes and which looks likely to cost the city considerably more than it currently spends on the W. Dale Clark Library. Many, including members of the Omaha City Council, have been critical of the process, particularly for its sudden urgency. Today, Dawaune Lamont Hayes returns to the show to discuss the process Mayor Stothert has chosen to undertake to move the library and to present an alternate vision for what to do with the space as a transit station and cultural center. 
March 20, 2022
98. Yanqi Xu on How Alvo's Huge Tire Pile Led to a Crisis of Democracy
Alvo is a small town of about 115 between Omaha and Lincoln. The kind of place you probably haven’t ever thought about unless you live near it. The kind of place that can be easy to romanticize as a typical small town in the Heartland. And where nobody is looking, sometimes it’s because there’s nothing to see. But other times, there’s so much under the surface that it can be difficult to wrap your mind around all of it. Flatwater Free Press reporter Yanqi Xu is here to look at Alvo for a story of toxic contamination and a cultural crisis that stems from a pile of tires. Read her original reporting here. 
March 13, 2022
97. OPPD Director Eric Williams on Nebraska's Climate Action Plan and Path to a Carbon Neutral Future
Vice Chair of the OPPD Board of Directors Eric Williams discusses Nebraska's coordinated plan to address the climate crisis by transitioning to primary reliance on renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.  Learn more here. Join the conversation on social media or call in with what issue is  on your mind in a brief voicemail to 402-881-0089 for a chance to be featured on one of our upcoming shows.
March 06, 2022
96. Women's Fund of Omaha Executive Director Jo Giles on Envisioning and Implementing Equity
Jo Giles is the executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, which addresses gender-based inequities in our community through collaboration that identifies, researches and creates solutions to advance, educate and fund lasting impact. Giles discusses her early days as a journalist before transitioning to her current position as well as the vision she has for implementing equity in a patriarchal world. 
February 26, 2022
95. Terri Sanders on the Legacy and Future of the Omaha Star
Terry Sanders, publisher of the Omaha Star, explains the legacy of the institution as a good news-based model of journalism. The Omaha Star was founded in 1938 by Mildred Brown and remains the only Black owned newspaper in Nebraska. Sanders took over in 2020 and is guiding the institution into the digital age as she adapts to new models of journalism today. 
February 04, 2022
94. Joel Damon and Josh Powell on Curation, Art Culture, and Project Project
Joel Damon and Josh Powell founded and curate Project Project: an independent contemporary arts space in South Omaha. Project Project hosts new visual art exhibitions on the second Friday of every month as well as public lectures and performances.  Check them out at or 
January 29, 2022
93. Douglas County Attorney Candidate Dave Pantos on the Root Causes of Crime and Impartiality in the Courts
Dave Pantos served as Executive Director of the Legal Aid program in Nebraska, ran several congressional campaigns, and teaches law and policy at the University of Nebraska. He’s currently running for Douglas County attorney against incumbent Don Kleine. Today he tells his story and vision for Omaha. 
January 23, 2022
92. Adam Nayman on 'David Fincher: Mind Games'
Adam Nayman is a critic at The Ringer and Cinema Scope and he is also the author of The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Room Together and Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks, which he discussed in an earlier episode of this show. His latest book, David Fincher: Mind Games is a critical and visual survey of the filmmaker behind incredibly influential works include Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl, and more. Nayman gives context, analysis, links themes, and conducts interviews with various people involved across Fincher’s career, grouping Fincher’s work around themes of procedure, imprisonment, paranoia, prestige, and relationship dynamics. Today he talks about Fincher's career and shifting place in the cinematic landscape.  Check out David Fincher: Mind Games wherever you get books. 
January 16, 2022
91. Dr. Lydia Kang on 'Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World's Worst Diseases'
Lydia Kang practices internal medicine at Nebraska Medicine and has written several novels including Opium and Absynthe, The Impossible Girl, The Beautiful Poison, and Toxic. Her latest book, co-written with Nate Pedersen, is nonfiction and incredibly timely. It’s called Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases, which chronicles how diseases spread, the scientific race to understand them, and how we race to destroy them before they destroy us. Each chapter chronicles a particular disease or virus–such as smallpox, the Bubonic plague, polio, HIV, or COVID-19. Kang and Pederson combine the human stories behind outbreaks with historical examinations of missteps, milestones, scientific theories, and more in a darkly funny, very accessible read. In this conversation, Kang discusses the massive scientific advancements made to combat infectious diseases, how our reactions to pandemics have and haven’t changed, and what might be in store for our future. Find the book here. 
January 08, 2022
90. Paul B. Allen IV on 1st Sky Omaha, Benson Theatre, and the Difference Between Passion and Ambition
Paul B. Allen IV runs the Allen Showcase Media Group building teams for media operations like Mind and Soul 101.3 or 1st Sky Omaha. Allen comes from a long legacy of entrepreneurship in music, art, and media with a fascinating family history right here in the metro. He also is involved in the recently relaunched Benson Theater, a multi-million dollar community theater project. He discusses about his wide-ranging career and his vision for Omaha going forward, as well as the important distinction he sees in being passionate vs. being ambitious. 
December 18, 2021
89. Author Ethan Warren on Cultural Anxieties Permeating Our Entertainment in Works like 'Joe Pera Talks With You'
Ethan Warren, film critic and editor for the online film journal Bright Wall/Dark Room discusses his 2018 article “I Can Whistle With That: What the Stories of 2018 Show Us About Responding to Despair,” which tries to grapple with our current moment of anxiety, apocalypse, and despair and the ways that seeps into our cultural entertainment. He explains how this concept of despair was appropriate for 2018, but may have evolved since then into feelings of formless anger and longing, as well as what that means for the entertainment of 2021 and 2022. Warren also discusses his upcoming book The Cinema of Paul Thomas Anderson: American Apocrypha, as well as where Anderson fits into it all.  Terror Management Theory originates in the book The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszcynski. 
December 13, 2021
88. Paul Hammel on the Indictment of Representative Jeff Fortenberry / Critic Jared Charles on the Holiday Season's Notable Films
Omaha World Herald reporter Paul Hammel explains the recent federal indictment against Representative Jeff Fortenberry. Forteberry has represented Nebraska’s first congressional district in the House of Representatives since 2005. On October 19, 2021, it was announced that Fortenberry was being investigated over illegal campaign contributions that his 2016 campaign received from the Nigerian-born, Paris-based billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted him on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Paul Hammel has been covering the story for the World Herald and he’s here today to walk us through who Fortenberry is and what is going on with the case.  Later in the show, The Burrow Review’s film and TV critic Jared Charles gives a preview of upcoming movies to keep an eye out for this holiday season including Nightmare Alley, Licorice Pizza, Don't Look Up, The Humans, and more. Read Charles's writing on film and TV here. 
December 04, 2021
87. Congressional Candidate Tony Vargas on Teaching, Effective Communication, and a Vision for America
Nebraska State Senator Tony Vargas, who is currently running to represent Nebraska’s Second Congressional District in the House of Representatives, talks about his upbringing, how teaching influenced his worldview, and his vision for the country. 
November 27, 2021
86. Matthew Wurstner on the History of Legal Challenges to School Curriculum
Matthew Wurstner, our resident historian, returns to the show to talk about the history of legal challenges to school curriculum and its implications for the future of education in America. 
November 21, 2021
85. Flatwater Free Press Executive Editor Matthew Hansen on the Impacts of Independent Local Journalism
Matthew Hansen chats about his journey in journalism, from interviewing Dick Cavett to his column at the Omaha World Herald to now founding and executive editing the Flatwater Free Press as an independent, local press in Nebraska. 
November 13, 2021
84. Laurel Heer Dale and Michael Milone on the Eviction Crisis and the Tenant Assistance Project
Laurel Heer Dale and Michael Milone discuss the current eviction crisis and how they're addressing it through the Tenant Assistance Project--also known as TAP. The program offers free legal assistance to tenants facing eviction and is currently seeking volunteers. 
November 06, 2021
83. Senator Megan Hunt on Progress in the Unicameral
Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt represents the 8th legislative district in Omaha, consisting of Dundee, Benson, and Keystone. Tom last spoke with Senator Hunt after she had wrapped up her first year in the legislature in 2019. This time, Hunt discusses how her first term has impacted her view of our political system and what is possible within the unicameral--as well as what her legislative goals are for a second term.
October 31, 2021
82. James Han Mattson on Fear as Entertainment and His New Novel 'Reprieve'
Author James Han Mattson discusses his new novel Reprieve: a literary novel of social horror centered around a brutal killing that takes place in a full-contact haunted escape room—a provocative exploration of capitalism, hate politics, racial fetishism, and our cultural obsession with fear as entertainment. Check out Reprieve wherever you get books. 
October 24, 2021
81. Gus von Roenn on Omaha Permaculture and Rethinking Sustainable Lifestyles
Gus von Roenn, founder of Omaha Permaculture, discusses his journey and vision of cities teeming with permaculture gardens where neighbors gather to harvest organic food, build relationships, and learn about the natural world. Omaha Permaculture manages 17 properties, plans a robust portfolio of programs, and maintains partnerships with the City Planning Department, Omaha Municipal Land Bank, Habitat for Humanity, and other community collaborators to address the need for sustainable land management.
October 15, 2021
80. Aarron Schurevich on Debate and the Possibility of Persuasion
Aarron Schurevich tells his story about how he got wrapped into the world of competitive debate, coached debate for nearly a decade, and why he can't let it go. He also reflects on how debate permeates our culture today in a world full of echo chambers.
October 07, 2021
79. Ben Nelson on the Death of the Senate and the Path to Functional Governing
Ben Nelson, former Nebraska governor and United States Senator, discusses his new book is Death of the Senate: My Front Row Seat to the Demise of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. In the book, Nelson chronicles his two terms in the Senate and what he sees as a demise of the concept of collaboration and bipartisanship, leaving gridlock and a war for power in their place. He outlines how we got here and his steps for returning congress to a functional, democratic space. 
October 03, 2021
78. Jeffrey Koterba on Political Cartoons and the Importance of Satire
Jeffrey Koterba, political cartoonist and author, discusses the current state of journalism and the importance of satire in today’s climate. Check out his book here and contribute to his Patreon here. 
September 26, 2021
77. Matthew Wurstner on the History of the Presidential Pardon
Matthew Wurstner discusses the history of the presidential pardon and how its evolution leaves big questions for our country going forward.
September 20, 2021
76. Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar on 'You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism'
Both Omaha natives, you probably know Amber Ruffin as the host of The Amber Ruffin Show. Her sister Lacey Lamar still lives in Omaha where she has worked in the healthcare and human services field for more than twenty-five years. The two co-wrote the book You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, which is a recounting of the multitude of racist encounters Lacey has had living in Omaha over the years. It’s a hilarious, biting insight into the Midwest Nice culture and it’s available now wherever you get books.
September 08, 2021
75. Senator John Cavanaugh on Meaningful Conversations and Progress in the Nebraska State Legislature
Nebraska State Senator John Cavanaugh discusses growing up with a dad who served in the House of Representatives, how he shaped his worldview, and the tricky business of trying to bring progressive policies to a senate body in a very red state. 
August 30, 2021
74. Adam Fletcher Sasse on North Omaha History
Adam Fletcher-Sasse has been compiling North Omaha History through articles, a podcast, and several books which are available now and aim to tell Omaha's lesser known stories to provide a fuller understanding of its culture. Check out his work at
August 20, 2021
73. Film Streams Executive Director Deirdre Haj
Film Streams Executive Director Deirdre Haj discusses her relationship to the film industry and her vision for Film Streams as a hub of Omaha’s culture going forward. 
August 13, 2021
72. Author Timothy Schaffert on 'The Perfume Thief'
Timothy Schaffert discusses his journey as an author and his new novel The Perfume Thief. A Gentleman in Moscow meets Moulin Rouge in this stylish, sexy page-turner about Clementine, a queer American expat and notorious thief of rare scents, who has retired to Paris, only to return to her old tricks in hopes of protecting the city she loves when the Nazis invade in 1941. The Perfume Thief is available now wherever you get books. 
August 09, 2021
71. Dakota Smith AKA Bobo Jiggs on Identity, Photography, and 'Still-Lives'
Dakota Smith AKA Bobo Jiggs talks about his new photography installation "Still-Lives," a study of relationships between pairs of seemingly unrelated photographs, which can be seen at the next Benson First Friday in Studio 62.  Find some of his other work at
July 31, 2021
70. Maha Festival Executive Director Lauren Martin
Lauren Martin, executive director of the Maha Festival tells her story and the evolution of Maha. This year’s festival is on July 31 and tickets are available at  What issues are on your mind this week? We’re starting a new feature here--a kind of letter to the editor--where you can call in and speak your mind in a brief voicemail to 402-881-0089 for a chance to be featured on one of our upcoming shows.
July 23, 2021
69. Maria Corpuz on Local Activism, Journalism, and 'Nite Caps'
Maria Corpuz talks local activism, journalism, and hosting the live late night show Nite Caps at OutrSpaces through significant personal and societal shifts over the past few years. 
July 16, 2021
68. Author Tyler J. Kelley on 'Holding Back the River: The Struggle Against Nature on America's Waterways'
Author and Documentarian Tyler J. Kelley talks about his new book Holding Back the River: The Struggle Against Nature on America's Waterways, a revelatory work of reporting on the men and women wrestling to harness and preserve America’s most vital natural resource: our rivers. Check out Tyler's book here. 
July 11, 2021
67. Maggie Wood and Cammy Watkins on Inclusive Communities and Becoming Antiracist
Inclusive Communities executive director Maggie Wood and deputy director Cammy Watkins talk about discrimination in Omaha--its causes, its effects, and ways organizations like theirs work to address it going forward. 
July 02, 2021
66. Activist Ja Keen Fox on Political Persuasion and a Vision for Omaha
Racial equity consultant Ja Keen Fox tells his story and theory of persuasion as he works to bring a progressive vision to Omaha.
June 23, 2021
65. Journalist Leah Cates on 'Queer Nebraska: A Timeline'
Leah Cates writes for The Reader and compiled Queer Nebraska: A Timeline, which commemorates milestones in LGBTQ Nebraska history as part of The Reader’s Pride feature and seeks to broadcast voices from Nebraska’s vibrant queer community, spotlighting the struggles and strengths of LGBTQ Nebraskans. Queer Nebraska: A timeline is available on The Reader’s site and print edition, which is out now. She talks about compiling the article as well as the implications of broadening our approach to history and the types of voices that make it into the popular narratives. 
June 17, 2021
64. Matthew Wurstner on Policing as an Institution
Attorney Matthew Wurstner returns to the show to discuss the constitutional obligations of the police and its formation as an institution--as well as what possible reforms might look like.
May 17, 2021
63. Filmmakers Brent Scott Maze and Derek Maze on 'La Flamme Rouge'
Filmmakers Brent Scott Maze and Derek Maze discuss their new film, La Flamme Rouge, which was filmed in Fremont and recently played at the Omaha Film Festival.
April 12, 2021
62. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert tells her story and vision for a third term.
April 05, 2021
61. Omaha City Council Candidate Sarah Johnson
Sarah Johnson tells her vision for Omaha and why she felt compelled to run to represent District 1 on Omaha's City Council to switch up the status quo.
March 22, 2021
60. Omaha City Council Candidate Jen Bauer
Jen Bauer tells her life story, from childhood dreams of joining the Supreme Court to her current campaign to represent District 3 on Omaha's City Council.
March 15, 2021
59. Omaha City Council Candidate Sarah Smolen
Sarah Smolen tells her story as an Omaha educator running to represent District 4 on Omaha's City Council.
February 15, 2021
58. Omaha Mayoral Candidate RJ Neary
RJ Neary discusses his vision for the city, including thinking bigger and addressing the interconnected nature of issues holding Omaha back from reaching its full potential.
February 08, 2021
57. Author Ross Benes on 'Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold'
Author Ross Benes discusses his new book, Rural Rebellion: How Nebraska Became a Republican Stronghold--including the past 30 years moving Nebraska to the right, what went wrong for Democrats, and what the future may look like for the state. Check out the book here:
February 01, 2021
56. Omaha Mayoral Candidate Jasmine Harris
Jasmine Harris tells her vision of shifting Omaha from stagnation to progress by addressing the interconnected nature of the city's problems from transportation to communication to health and more. Learn more here. And consider supporting Riverside Chats as a patron for access to the full backlog, early access to new episodes, and exclusive content for $1 a month.
January 25, 2021
55. Omaha Mayoral Candidate and Educator Mark Gudgel
Omaha educator and mayoral candidate Mark Gudgel discusses his vision for the city and the future of politics in America. Find more about Mark Gudgel's campaign here.
January 18, 2021
54. Omaha Mayoral Candidate and NOISE Founder Dawaune Lamont Hayes
NOISE founder Dawaune Lamont Hayes discusses his vision for changing Omaha to meet his ambitions, now including a run for mayor.
January 11, 2021
53. Matthew Wurstner on the Stolen Election of 1876
Matthew Wurstner tells the history of America's stolen election, rife with fraud, corruption, and questionable implications for the American democratic experiment--all in the 1876 election between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden.
December 21, 2020
52. Precious McKesson on the Electoral College and Making History
Precious McKesson tells her story as the first woman and the first woman of color in Nebraska to cast an Electoral College ballot for a Democrat, as well as her assessment of the current political climate.
December 14, 2020
51. Author Adam Nayman on 'Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks' and the Future of Cinema
Critic Adam Nayman discusses his new book, Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks, as well as the state of the auteur today and the future of cinema after the pandemic and the streaming revolution. Check out the book here.
December 07, 2020
50. Omaha City Council Candidate Naomi Hattaway
Naomi Hattaway discusses her campaign to represent District 6 on Omaha's City Council, including the logistics of a digital campaign, the formation of her worldview, and her vision for the city.
November 30, 2020
49. Brent Crampton on Circular Food Systems and Hillside Solutions
Brent Crampton discusses how we can shift to a circular food system and become more conscious of waste, re-use, and regeneration, which he is helping Omaha embrace through Hillside Solutions.
November 23, 2020
48. Author Theodore Wheeler on 'In Our Other Lives'
Author Theodore Wheeler discusses his new novel, In Our Other Lives, which follows a series of characters trying to make sense of the post-Patriot Act world and is available wherever you get books.
November 16, 2020
47. Astronaut Clayton Anderson on 'Letters from Space'
Astronaut Clayton Anderson discusses his upbringing and dedication to following his dream of joining NASA and going to space, as well as his ability to share his experiences in his books like The Ordinary Spaceman and his newest release, Letters from Space, which is available now.
November 09, 2020
46. Screenwriter Patrick Stibbs on 'The Call'
Screenwriter Patrick Stibbs tells the story of his first screenplay, The Call, which took 20 years to make it to the screen and is now in theaters across the country, starring horror icons Tobin Bell and Lynn Shaye.
October 28, 2020
45. Omaha City Council Candidate Cammy Watkins
Cammy Watkins discusses her decision to run for Omaha's City Council after years of waiting for political willpower to manifest in order to fix the city's problems before finally deciding to get hands-on to enact change.
October 21, 2020
44. Attorney Matthew Wurstner on the Supreme Court and the 2020 Ballot
Omaha attorney Matthew Wurstner gives an overview of legal issues from the national to the local, including the recent developments at the Supreme Court and what made it to the ballot this year in Nebraska.
October 12, 2020
43. Congressional Candidate Kara Eastman (September 2020)
Kara Eastman comes back onto the show to discuss her run to represent Nebraska's Second Congressional District as she challenges incumbent Republican Don Bacon over healthcare, presidential loyalty, and the influence of corporate money in politics.  This is the third Riverside Chats conversation with Kara Eastman. You can find the old conversations in our episode backlog. 
September 28, 2020
42. Nebraska State Senate Candidate Terrell McKinney
Nebraska State Senate Candidate Terrell McKinney is running to represent District 11, which is currently represented by Ernie Chambers. McKinney speaks about the legacy of Ernie Chambers as he grew up in North Omaha as well as his personal struggles and ultimate determination to become part of the solution to problems he sees in Nebraska by running for office.
September 14, 2020
41. Musician/Author Pascal Bokar on How West African Standards of Aesthetics Shaped Midwestern Music
Musician, author, and professor Pascal Bokar discusses the way traditional sounds like the banjo originated in West Africa and became mainstays of Midwestern music, as well as how the center of any country represents its truest cultural expression. Check out his new album American Trails and his book From Timbuktu to the Mississippi Delta: How West African Standards of Aesthetics Have Shaped the Music of the Delta Blues. 
September 07, 2020
40. US Senate Candidate Alisha Shelton
US Senate Candidate Alisha Shelton discusses her life as a practical problem solver and how she's had to forge her own path in every venture, including this particularly messy senate race against incumbent Ben Sasse and primary winner Chris Janicek.
August 24, 2020
39. Musician Andrew Bailie on 'Wasteland'
Musician Andrew Bailie discusses his album Wasteland and how he's processing the world around him through his music and neighborhood concerts. 
August 17, 2020
Screenwriter Christine Burright McGuigan on 'The Headliner' (Radio Edit)
Screenwriter Christine Burright McGuigan discusses her life leading up to the writing of The Headliner, the award-winning short that played in the Omaha Film Festival, the Film Stream Local Filmmaker Showcase, and won Best Narrative at the Lincoln Short Film Festival. It’s now being developed into a feature with the same core team and cast that they intend to shoot in Nebraska once COVID restrictions have eased. Edited from the 2019 podcast discussion. 
August 03, 2020
Playwright Beaufield Berry on 'Red Summer' (Radio Edit)
Beaufield Berry discusses her evolution as a playwright leading up to Red Summer, which dramatized the life of William Brown in commemoration of the centenary of the Omaha Race Riots of 1919. Edited from the original podcast conversation in 2019. 
July 25, 2020
38. Filmmaker Georg Joutras on 'Ocean of Grass: Life on a Nebraska Sandhills Ranch'
Documentarian Georg Joutras discusses his hit documentary, Ocean of Grass, filmed in the Nebraska Sandhills. Edited from the 2019 podcast conversation. 
July 20, 2020
37. Filmmakers Dorothy Booraem and Chad Haufschild on the Shifting Landscape of Independent Cinema
Filmmakers Dorothy Booraem and Chad Haufschild talk about their journey in filmmaking, from making a streaming deal with Netflix to navigating the shifting landscape of media over the past twenty years. Check out their work on Amazon Prime. 
July 13, 2020
36. Fatima Flores-Lagunas on DACA, the Path to Citizenship, and Representing DACA Youth at the Supreme Court
Fatima Flores-Lagunas discusses life as a DACA recipient in Nebraska as well as her activism toward a path to citizenship for undocumented children, which has included representing DACA youth at the Supreme Court.
July 03, 2020
35. Director Tony Bonacci on 'The Headliner' (Featuring Hector Anchondo)
Director Tony Bonacci discusses his evolution in filmmaking leading up to the award-winning The Headliner, which he is now developing into a feature that he intends to shoot in Nebraska. Later in the show, musician Hector Anchondo discusses how COVID-19 has affected his life as a musician trying to reach an audience. 
June 29, 2020
34. Author David Philip Mullins on 'The Brightest Place in the World'
Author David Philip Mullins discusses his new novel The Brightest Place in the World, which traces the lives of four characters haunted by an industrial disaster, and is available wherever you get books.
June 22, 2020
33. Congressional Candidate Kate Bolz
Kate Bolz discusses her role as a congressional candidate and current Nebraska state senator who is the Democratic challenger to sitting representative Jeff Fortenberry for Nebraska’s first congressional district
June 15, 2020
32. Jesse Snider and Jaz Schoeneck on Filmmaking in Nebraska
Filmmakers Jesse Snider and Jaz Shoeneck discuss their new Nebraskan production company, Gnarly Pioneers, their projects The Hero and The Feed, which premiered at the Prairie Lights Film Festival, and their upcoming projects that they intend to shoot in Nebraska once COVID 19 restrictions have eased.
June 01, 2020
31. Writer Sally J. Walker on the Necessity of Pragmatism in Life as a Writer
Author, playwright, and screenwriting instructor Sally J. Walker discusses the necessity of pragmatism in a life as a writer and what techniques she has learned from decades of craft that can be found in her new book Learn Screenwriting--available wherever you get books.
May 25, 2020
30. Author Amy Bonnaffons on Writing During COVID-19 and Her New Novel 'The Regrets'
Author Amy Bonnaffons discusses her new novel, The Regrets, as well as her life as a writer in isolation during the COVID 19 pandemic. Check out The Regrets as well as the short story collection The Wrong Heaven wherever you get books.
May 18, 2020
29. Actor Darrick Silkman on 'The Headliner'
Acclaimed actor Darrick Silkman discusses his evolution from stage performances such as Angels in America and Nebraska Shakespeare to becoming a major presence in Nebraska filmmaking--most recently by starring as a seasoned comedian in the award-winning film The Headliner.
May 11, 2020
28. US Senate Candidate Angie Philips
On today's episode, Riverside Chats concludes its series leading up to the Nebraska primary on May 12th in a conversation with US Senate candidate Angie Philips, who is running against sitting senator Ben Sasse.
May 04, 2020
27. US Senate Candidate Chris Janicek
Riverside Chats continues its look into the congressional candidates who want to represent you in the federal government leading up to Nebraska’s primary on May 12. This week, Tom speaks with US Senate candidate Chris Janicek, who is running against Nebraska’s sitting Senator Ben Sasse. Janicek speaks about his disillusionment with the political system and how his personal struggle with healthcare inspired him to take the leap to run for office and influence the country with his ideas for improvement. Later in the show, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt addresses frequently asked questions about mail-in voting.
April 27, 2020
26. Congressional Candidate Kara Eastman (April 2020)
Riverside Chats continues its look into the congressional candidates who want to represent you in the federal government leading up to Nebraska’s primary on May 12. This week, Tom has a conversation with congressional candidate Kara Eastman, who is running to represent Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Later in the episode, Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt answers frequently asked questions about mail-in voting. This is episode three of Riverside Chats produced in conjunction with KIOS Omaha.
April 20, 2020
25. Congressional Candidate Ann Ashford
On today’s show, we continue our look into the congressional candidates who want to represent you in the federal government leading up to Nebraska’s primary on May 12. Last week, Tom spoke with Representative Don Bacon. This week, he has a conversation with congressional candidate Ann Ashford, who is running against Bacon for Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. Ashford speaks about her feeling that, after growing up as a Republican, the party left her, so she left the party and became a Democrat who prioritizes individual views over forced consensus. This is the second episode of Riverside Chats produced in conjunction with KIOS and has been edited from a July 2019 conversation. Music featured: No Good Layabout by Kevin MacLeod Link: License:
April 13, 2020
24. Congressman Don Bacon
Representative Don Bacon talks about his life, his journey in politics, and the inability of our current political moment to agree on a definition of socialism. Episode one of Riverside Chats produced in conjunction with KIOS Omaha.
April 06, 2020
22. Writer Christine Burright McGuigan on The Headliner (Extended Podcast Edition)
Christine Burright McGuigan has had a busy couple of years. She's best known for writing the hit short The Headliner, which is currently being turned into a feature film from director Tony Bonacci. On today's show, she tells the story of her life as someone who didn't always want to be a writer but then found that she had a talent for it that has developed into several projects she's currently working on--including a spec and multiple pilot scripts. Support the show at
October 15, 2019
21. Actor Raydell Cordell III on Red Summer and Finding Himself Through Acting
Raydell Cordell III fell in love with acting as a kid in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has done Midsummer five different times and uses it as a way to get to know himself better and gauge how he's changed as an actor and a person. He's currently in the hit play Red Summer, which has sold out its entire run at the Bluebarn. Support Riverside Chats at
October 09, 2019
20. Playwright Beaufield Berry on Red Summer (Extended Podcast Edition)
Beaufield Berry doesn't know how to be bored. She does know how to jump headfirst into her passions and create all sorts of projects that both entertain and explore the human condition. Her latest project is Red Summer, a play which is currently opening the Bluebarn Theatre's 31st season. Red Summer explores the life of William Brown, the butcher lynched in downtown Omaha 100 years ago last week. On today's show, Beaufield discusses how she became interested in theater and how this show came to life. Tickets are available at Red Summer runs through October 20th.
September 24, 2019
19. Congressional Candidate Morgann Freeman
Morgann Freeman is running for congress on a simple mission: she wants to serve constituents by placing their interests above her own. She sees congress losing its ostensible purpose as public servants, and she wants to make that the new reality by embracing the democratic ideal of the Founding Fathers over the current political climate. On today's show, she explains her political ideology and how she felt compelled to run for office.
September 11, 2019
23. Connor Brandt and Jordan Gaul of The Real Zebos (Extended Podcast Edition)
Connor Brandt and Jordan Gaul talk about the founding of their band, The Real Zebos, and the story of their new album, Strictly Platonic.
September 03, 2019
18. Senator Megan Hunt on Running for Office and Legislative Goals
Senator Megan Hunt has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. From getting kids in her third grade class to submit creative writing to a website she'd created as an eight year old to running a successful business in Omaha (Hello Holiday), Senator Hunt has always had diverse interests and works hard to achieve whatever she sets her mind to. In 2018, that meant running for state legislature. On today's show, Senator Hunt discusses how she ended up getting involved in politics as well as her pitch for an honest legislating philosophy. Support Riverside Chats at
August 01, 2019
17. Performance Artist Caitlin Little on Performance Art and Adjacency
Caitlin Little is always processing the world through her art, but that doesn't mean she wants the commentary to be obvious. On today's show, she explains her philosophy of adjacency and her experiences with performance art in Omaha.  Support Riverside Chats at
July 25, 2019
16. Documentarians Cathy Lohmeier and Sharonda Harris Marshall on Remember the Drumstick
In 1978, Tim Lohmeier turned his family’s fried chicken restaurant, The Drumstick, in Lincoln, Nebraska into a rock n’ roll club that would go on to be frequented by bands such as REM, Joan Jett, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. On today's show, Tim's sister Cathy Lohmeier and filmmaker Sharonda Harris Marshall discuss the tragic story of The Drumstick and how they are turning its legacy into an upcoming documentary: Remember the Drumstick. Support Remember the Drumstick at  Support Riverside Chats at Music by Kevin Macleod.
July 18, 2019
15. Jessica Mizaur on Making Sustainability Easy
Jessica Mizaur just wants to save the world. She is one of the first graduates of Creighton University's Sustainability Studies degree and has started Dryad Sustainability Consulting to help businesses find ways to cut back on waste and practices that harm the environment. On today's show, she discusses her journey in eco-awareness and how she sees a path forward for the world if it commits to sustainability.
July 11, 2019
14. Philosopher Justin Schacht on The Middle Way
Justin Schacht is happy, and he wants to help you get there too. He tells the story of being a child questioning his own existence to a troubled adolescence that eventually led him to a philosophical awakening about how to release the negative energy in life and embrace the middle way.
July 04, 2019
13. Writer/Actor Mary Oliver on SOS, Action Choreography, and Narrative Podcasting
Mary Oliver is doing it all: she acts, writes, does martial arts, plays viola, and is working on a narrative podcast. She tells the story of how she went from pretending to be cat to writing ambitious plays like SOS, acting on the fly in Level Up, and creating a post-apocalyptic narrative podcast set in Benson.
June 27, 2019
12. Producer Ehren Parks on Aksarben: Nebraska's Racetrack and La Flamme Rouge
Ehren Parks went from small-town Nebraska kid to film industry professional in Los Angeles as a producer and writer before making it back to Fremont to produce the new film, La Flamme Rouge. He tells the story of bringing his career full circle back to Fremont to help create a local film industry.
June 20, 2019
11. Dr. Diana Martinez on Hollywood in Color
Diana Martinez discusses her path in getting a PhD in film, teaching film, and creating a podcast exploring the less publicized history of people of color within film history. Diana hosts the show Hollywood in Color, which is available on all your favorite podcast apps, and she is the education director at Film Streams, where you can sign up for her education series.
June 12, 2019
10. Matthew Wedlock on Addiction, Serving Time, and Comedy
Comedian Matt Wedlock talks comedy, improv, the military, addiction, and how his time in federal prison helped shape the kind of comedy he hopes to share with the world.
May 23, 2019
9. Michael Burns Jr. on Acting in Theater, Film, and Podcasts
Michael Burns Jr. tells the story of how he went from ambitions in wrestling to screenwriting and becoming a successful actor on the brink of outgrowing the Omaha scene.
May 02, 2019
8. Fisheye Kombucha Brewers Jason Miller and Sara Hinrichs
Fisheye Kombucha Brewers Jason Miller and Sara Hinrichs tell the story of founding Nebraska's first kombucha company, including explaining to the state what kombucha even is in order to get licensed.
April 25, 2019
7. Filmmakers Danny Machado and Aly Larimore on Independent Filmmaking in Nebraska
Danny Machado, writer/director of CHIT and assistant director Aly Larimore discuss their path in filmmaking.
April 22, 2019
6. Playwright Abigail C. K. Lill on Rumors in the Kitchen
Abigail C. K. Lill discusses her new play, Rumors in the Kitchen, as well as how she came to work in the entertainment industry and her initiative to create the Grandin Test--an inclusion test for writing characters with disabilities.  
April 03, 2019
5. Congressional Candidate Kara Eastman on Her Journey into Politics and Vision for America
Congressional candidate Kara Eastman discusses her journey in politics and her view of the current state of our political system. Recorded live in front of an audience at the Benson Theater. 
March 28, 2019
4. Film Streams Founder Rachel Jacobson on Building a Film Culture in the Midwest
Rachel Jacobson, Founder and Executive Director of Film Streams, joins Riverside Chats to discuss the story of Film Streams and making an unlikely dream come true in a city previously lacking an art film market.
March 07, 2019
3. Documentarian Brigitte Timmerman on The Omaha Speaking
Documentary Filmmaker Brigitte Timmerman discusses her new film, The Omaha Speaking, about the remaining speakers of the Omaha language within the Omaha Tribe.
March 01, 2019
2. Eddy Quintero and Brent Lubbert on Big Muddy Urban Farm and Reducing Omaha's Wasted Space
Eddy Quintero and Brent Lubbert of Big Muddy Urban Farm join us to discuss urban farming and how to reduce Omaha's wasted space. This conversation was recorded in front of a live audience at Benson Theater. 
February 27, 2019
1. Cameron Logsdon on Comedy and Finding Creativity in Omaha
Cameron Logsdon joins host Tom Knoblauch to discuss comedy, creativity, and culture in Omaha. This conversation was held at the Benson Theater in front of a live audience. 
January 17, 2019