Terry Gross

Fresh Air Host

Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle. Gross, who has been host of Fresh Air since 1975, when it was broadcast only in greater Philadelphia, isn't afraid to ask tough questions. But Gross sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrendering them. What often puts those guests at ease is Gross' understanding of their work. "Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private," Gross says. "But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood." Gross began her radio career in 1973 at public radio station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. There she hosted and produced several arts, women's and public affairs programs, including This Is Radio, a live, three-hour magazine program that aired daily. Two years later, she joined the staff of WHYY-FM in Philadelphia as producer and host of Fresh Air, then a local, daily interview and music program. In 1985, WHYY-FM launched a weekly half-hour edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which was distributed nationally by NPR. Since 1987, a daily, one-hour national edition of Fresh Air has been produced by WHYY-FM. The program is broadcast on 566 stations and became the first non-drive time show in public radio history to reach more than five million listeners each week in fall 2008, a presidential election season. In fall 2011, Fresh Air reached 4.4 million listeners a week. Fresh Air with Terry Gross has received a number of awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 1994 for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insight." America Women in Radio and Television presented Gross with a Gracie Award in 1999 in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, she received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award for her "outstanding contributions to public radio" and for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." In 2007, Gross received the Literarian Award. In 2011, she received the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community. Gross is the author of All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, published by Hyperion in 2004. Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gross received a bachelor's degree in English and M.Ed. in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Gross was recognized with the Columbia Journalism Award from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Princeton University in 2002. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 and Doctor of Humane Letters in 2007, both from SUNY–Buffalo. She also received a Doctor of Letters from Haverford College in 1998 and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Drexel University in 1989. 

Osnos' new book focuses on coal country in West Virginia; hedge fund culture in Greenwich, Conn.; institutional racism in Chicago and why Democrat Joe Manchin holds remarkable sway in the Senate.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, professor of television studies at Rowan University, sitting in for Terry Gross. Actress Jean Smart is nominated for two Emmys this year. One is for starring in the comedy series "Hacks," as a comic whose career is in decline. The other is for her supporting role in the drama "Mare Of Easttown," as the mother of Kate Winslet's character. Her comedic timing was obvious in the hit '80s sitcom "Designing Women," and in the early 2000s, when she won two Emmys for her guest-starring role on "Frasier."

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, in for Terry Gross.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead does extensive background research whenever he works on a book. For his latest novel, Harlem Shuffle, that meant learning how stolen items get "fenced."

"There's not a lot of literature about fences," Whitehead says. "But there is actually a book ... [that's] a sociological a study about these guys in the Midwest in the '60s, and one of the first things that struck me was their description of [the fences] being a wall between the straight world and the crooked world."

Joy Harjo, the nation's first Native American poet laureate, has a very clear sense of what she wants to accomplish with her writing.

"If my work does nothing else, when I get to the end of my life, I want Native peoples to be seen as human beings," she says.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

My guest, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, has made his directorial debut with the new documentary "Summer Of Soul." Questlove co-founded The Roots, which is, among other things, the house band for "The Tonight Show," where Questlove serves as the music director. He describes his new film as his chance to restore history.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Actor Sandra Oh grew up in a mostly white suburb of Ottawa. Her parents were South Korean immigrants. "I socialized myself to be as comfortable as possible in a white world," she says.

It wasn't until she left home for Montreal and Toronto and then, eventually, Los Angeles that she started meeting other artists of color.

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CNN chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward can't stop looking at the bruise on her arm. It's a reminder of her harrowing escape last week from Afghanistan.

At the end of a trip reporting on the fall of the Afghan government, Ward found the Kabul airport thronged with people desperate to leave the country. She and her crew held hands and formed a chain, but when the gate to their flight opened, the crowd closed in upon them.

Human beings are programmed to approach pleasure and avoid pain. It's an instinct that dates back millions of years, to a time when people needed to actively seek food, clothing and shelter every day, or risk death.

But psychiatrist Anna Lembke says that in today's world, such basic needs are often readily available — which changes the equation.

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Tony Bennett, the singer Frank Sinatra called the best in the business, is retiring from performing at the age of 95, after eight decades on stage and in clubs. Earlier this year, it was announced he had Alzheimer's disease, diagnosed five years earlier, but he'd continue to perform. His last performance was just two weeks ago with Lady Gaga in sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall.

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Kenan Thompson says playing a widowed dad on his new NBC sitcom Kenan and being a dad in real life has been "a bit of a whirlwind."

"I'm living my character kind of 24/7 in a weird way," he says. "I wake up and make breakfast for my kids and then I go do a scene where I'm making some sort of meal for my TV children, too."

Strong stars in the new Apple TV+ satire — a couple gets lost in the woods and end up trapped in a town where life is a musical and the townspeople frequently burst into song.

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This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RON POPEIL: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made. It's called Chop-O-Matic.

President Biden was sworn into office more than six months ago, but officials in Maricopa County, Ariz., are still searching for evidence that Biden's victory in their state was based on massive voter fraud — even after

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement, Bob Moses. He died Sunday at the age of 86. The quiet-spoken, self-effacing activist helped lead the effort in Mississippi to organize and register rural Black residents to vote. In 1960, after watching news footage of lunch counter sit-ins in the South, he left his job teaching math in New York City to help in the civil rights movement.

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