Terry Gross

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.

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Movie Interviews
2:15 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

'Life Of Pi' Star On The 'Duet' Of Acting

Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) looks back on the adventure he went on as a teenager in Life of Pi.
Peter Sorel Twentieth Century Fox

Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 3:54 pm

You might think that actor Irrfan Khan — the co-star of the special effects-filled film Life of Pi -- performed his scenes by himself, or with inanimate objects that would later be transformed via CGI. Not so: As the older Pi in Ang Lee's new adaptation of the best-selling novel, Khan went back to the basics.

He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of scenes as being like duets: "You strike a note, and somebody responds, and then you respond accordingly," Khan says.

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Author Interviews
11:05 am
Fri November 16, 2012

'When God Talks Back' To The Evangelical Community

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 12:55 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Fresh Air on March 26, 2012. When God Talks Back was released in paperback on Nov. 13.

While attending services and small group meetings at The Vineyard, an evangelical church with 600 branches across the country, anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann noticed that several members of the congregation said God had repeatedly spoken to them and that they had heard what God wanted them to do.

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Books
1:49 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Doris Kearns Goodwin On Lincoln And His 'Team Of Rivals'

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 8, 2005.

When Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg were working on the film Lincoln, they had many conversations with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, is about Lincoln's relationship with his cabinet. Both her book and the film showcase Lincoln's remarkable political skills.

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Around the Nation
3:26 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Legalizing And Regulating Pot: A Growth Industry

On Election Day, residents in Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Above, marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center in Los Angeles.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 3:53 pm

When reporter Tony Dokoupil was a teenager, he found out that his father had sold marijuana, but he just thought his parents "were hippies." A few years ago, while working on a story about his father's drug dealer past, he discovered that actually, in the 1970s and '80s, his father, Anthony Dokoupil, had been a big-time marijuana smuggler.

"He was arrested in the early '90s on a job selling 17 tons of marijuana," Dokoupil tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "which was enough at the time to roll a joint for every college kid in the U.S."

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Author Interviews
2:04 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

Ornstein: Could A Second Term Mean More Gridlock?

Basic Books

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 12:00 pm

President Obama has been re-elected. Democrats and Republicans have maintained their respective majorities in the Senate and in the House. So does this mean there will be more partisan gridlock?

Norm Ornstein, a writer for Roll Call and a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that it's a mixed message.

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Author Interviews
9:59 am
Tue October 30, 2012

'Sutton': America's 1920s, Bank-Robbing 'Robin Hood'

Hyperion

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 3:35 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 26, 2012.

After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them — in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.

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Food
12:03 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

'Test Kitchen' Chefs Talk The Science Of Savory

Jack Bishop is the editorial director at America's Test Kitchen, where every day a near army of professional chefs test, test, then retest recipes to arrive at the best possible result.
Larry Crowe AP

Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 3:22 pm

You might think that Bridget Lancaster and Jack Bishop — two of the culinary talents behind the public television shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country — would have their cooking techniques pretty much figured out. Think again.

For the new Cook's illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, Bishop and Lancaster tested principles they assumed were true — and as Bishop tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "Things that we thought were actually accurate turned out to be, perhaps, more complex."

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Author Interviews
3:33 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Colbert: 'Re-Becoming' The Nation We Always Were

Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 9:56 am

Stephen Colbert has no idea how other news pundits find time to write books. But he felt certain that his character on his Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report, needed to have another one.

"My character is based on news punditry, the masters of opinion in cable news, and they all have books," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "We don't have time to write a book and feed and wash ourselves, so something has to go out the window. And [for me] it was family, friends and hygiene for the past year."

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Author Interviews
1:32 pm
Wed September 26, 2012

'Sutton': America's 1920s, Bank-Robbing 'Robin Hood'

Hyperion

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 1:49 pm

After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them — in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.

"I thought it would be healthy to live vicariously through a bank robber at that moment that bankers were ruining the world," Moehringer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In his first historical novel, Sutton, Moehringer writes from the point of view of Willie Sutton, whom he calls the "greatest American bank robber."

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Television
12:59 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

Mindy Kaling Loves Rom-Coms And Being The Boss

Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) must juggle a variety of responsibilities as an obstetrician-gynecologist in the new comedy The Mindy Project.
Jordin Althaus Fox

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 2:02 pm

Mindy Kaling says she loves romantic comedies, even though she wrote last year in The New Yorker that saying so "is essentially an admission of mild stupidity."

Her new Fox TV show, The Mindy Project — which she created, stars in, writes and runs as co-executive producer — is essentially a serialized romantic comedy, where each week, viewers can check in with the character to see how her life is going, Kaling says.

Except she hopes her show is "actually funny," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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