What If...

Good ideas often start with a simple question. Nebraskans answer with innovation and creativity. We tell their stories in our Nebraska Public Media series, "What If..."

"What If..." is an exploration of innovation, creativity, invention and discovery," says "What If..." host and producer Mike Tobias. "Stories about interesting Nebraskans with interesting ideas in a wide range of areas, like university research, entrepreneurship, education, economic development and more. It’s a great project because we’re having fun and challenging ourselves creatively to tell these stories in a way that takes you inside the worlds and minds of these innovators."

Watch for two new episodes and lots of new stories on air and online in January 2023. We'll show you innovation in Nebraska's largest city and a tiny village, with stories about the ranch of the future, entrepreneurs using name-image-likeness rules to help college athletes, bringing urban and rural kids together for a unique summer camp, a non-profit using food in lots of ways to build community, and more!

"What If..." Previous Episode Summaries

  • Season 3, Episode 1 - How scientist-detectives identify missing service members at an Offutt Air Force Base lab; making a canoe and bee hotels out of mushrooms; technology that's helping stores and products learn how we shop; and a robotic weevil that may save lives. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 1 - Chasing tornadoes with the largest-ever drone-based severe weather research project; meet an experimental music composer/teacher/performer; and how a candle entrepreneur bounced back from failure. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 2 - How a farmer raises soybeans...and shrimp; meet two young Albion farmers putting new ideas into old dirt; scientists looking at corn roots in different ways; and entrepreneurial high school girls who started their own gelato business. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 3 - A rural entrepreneur making leg braces for injured dogs; restoration of a 1880s painting; watch SpiderCam in action; and how a remote school district creatively adapted to remote learning. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 2, Episode 4 - Explore the nation's first tech library; a bike/coffee shop helping kids aging out of foster care; and a unique development working to end poverty in north Omaha. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 1, Episode 1 - Ord's leaders thinking differently about economic development; UNO's cutting-edge biomechanics research; kid composer Winston Schneider; and a rural couple breathing new life into old churches. (WATCH HERE)
  • Season 1, Episode 2 - Cutting edge tech that's changing health care education at UNMC; "FitBits" monitoring cattle health; helping people living in poverty learn to cook, garden and meal plan; and new ideas about how and where people work at Flywheel. (WATCH HERE)

Innovator Insights

What drives Nebraska’s innovators, big thinkers, risk takers? How do they think? What influences them? What have they learned from? What’s next? We explore this in a separate "What If..." project component, designed for a high school/college age target audience, called "Innovator Insights."

Watch "Innovator Insights" videos (including versions with Spanish-language captions, and access viewing guides and discussion questions for educators, on the PBS Learning Media site.

"What If..." Music

"What If..." celebrates innovation and creativity. So in our stories we showcase original music, submitted for use in the project by a wide range Nebraska composers.

  • CLICK HERE for a listing of the songs and composers from each "What If..." story
  • Submission details: Nebraska composers of all ages and levels; finished music with no lyrics and at least 30 seconds long; WAV format, 48K, 24 bit stereo; and all styles and multiple submissions are welcome! Composers of music will not be paid, but will be notified and credited while the piece is being used in a segment, during end credits and on the "What If..." web site.
  • Send your original music (and any questions) to "What If..." producer/host Mike Tobias at mtobias@NebraskaPublicMedia.org

More Content


Comments, questions, ideas? Contact "What If..." host/producer Mike Tobias at mtobias@NebraskaPublicMedia.org. And follow Mike and the project on Twitter and Facebook.