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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Politics
1:08 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

How Obama, Roberts Interpret Laws In 'The Oath'

Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009, in Washington.
Tim Sloan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 11:25 am

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama ran on the platform of "change we can believe in" — but he has a different approach to the Supreme Court's interpretation of constitutional law.

"Obama is a great believer in stability — in the absence of change — when it comes to the work of the Supreme Court," Jeffrey Toobin, author and senior legal analyst for CNN, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He is the one trying to hold onto the older decisions, and [Chief Justice John] Roberts is the one who wants to move the court in a dramatically new direction."

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Interviews
12:19 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Going Under The 'Boardwalk' With Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon plays federal agent Nelson Van Alden on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. "I think inside of Van Alden is a child — that arrested child — that never really got to develop its own identity," he says.
Macall B. Polay HBO

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 1:26 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 24, 2011. The third season of Boardwalk Empire starts Sunday.

HBO's Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920s, is about organized crime in the era of Prohibition. The show stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, an Atlantic City politician who sees the coming of Prohibition as an opportunity to make even more money from illegal activities and kickbacks.

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Television
1:04 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

'Totally Biased' Comic On Race, Politics And Audience

W. Kamau Bell's new FX weekly series Totally Biased mixes standup, sketches and interviews.
Matthias Clamer

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 4:03 pm

Before comic W. Kamau Bell became host of the new weekly political humor show Totally Biased, which mixes standup, sketches and interviews, he had a one-man show called The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour.

"If you bring a friend of a different race, you get in 2 for 1," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Animals
1:49 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

New Center Trains Detection Dogs To Save Lives

Eleven-week-old 11-week-old Bretagne is beginning her training as a detection dog at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, which opens Tuesday. Click here to see photos of Bretagne at the mic during her Fresh Air interview.
Sarah Griffith

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 2:27 pm

A detection dog-training center opens Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania so scientists can train dogs for search-and-rescue missions — and study what helps them succeed.

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Television
12:41 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Andrew Rannells: Gay And Serious In 'New Normal'

Andrew Rannells plays Bryan Buckley, a successful TV show producer and writer, in the new comedy The New Normal.
Frederick M Brown/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 10:23 am

After Andrew Rannells pitched himself for a starring role in NBC's The New Normal, the show's creator didn't call for a month.

"I was like, 'Oh my God, I've completely overstepped — I've over-Oprah-ed this,' " Rannells tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I've ruined my chances of working with this man because I was too bold."

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Music Interviews
12:55 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Grammy Winner Hal David

Burt Bacharach with Hal David (right).
Lawrence Lucier Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 4:23 pm

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Interviews
1:49 pm
Thu September 6, 2012

Advocate Fights 'Ambient Despair' In Assisted Living

Most residents in assisted living facilities are in their 80s and 90s and arrive after a traumatic event, according to Martin Bayne, who writes about long-term care reform.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 7, 2012 11:31 am

Martin Bayne entered an assisted living facility at 53 after he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease. The disease affected his nerves so severely, it was impossible for him to take a shower and get dressed by himself.

"When I was in my 40s, I was physically fit and very active," Bayne tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And to have to give all that up and stay in a wheelchair now and be helped by so many people to do the simplest of things — it takes a little getting used to."

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Economy
2:33 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Journalist Evaluates Obama, Romney Economic Plans

David Leonhardt, the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, won a Pulitzer Prize last year for his columns about the economy.
Earl Wilson The New York Times

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 4:39 pm

On Monday, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan told a campaign rally audience in North Carolina that "the president can say a lot of things, but he can't tell you you are better off." Later that day in Detroit, Vice President Joe Biden responded "America is better off today than they left us."

New York Times Washington bureau chief David Leonhardt argues that both Ryan and Biden are right: It's partly semantics.

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Author Interviews
1:34 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

'Real Romney' Authors Dissect His Latest Campaign

Michael Kranish (left) is the deputy chief of the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe. Scott Helman is a staff writer at The Globe. Both have covered politics, presidential campaigns and Congress.
courtesy of the authors

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 11:17 am

In The Real Romney, Boston Globe reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman examine Mitt Romney's political rise since 1994, when he ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. They explain how Romney shifted from supporting abortion rights to heavily courting social conservatives in the 2008 Republican primary.

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Interviews
11:12 am
Fri July 27, 2012

'Fresh Air' Bids Farewell To Melody Kramer

Producer Melody Kramer, who developed a strong social-media presence for Fresh Air over the last several years, departs this week.
Sam Briger WHYY

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 11:47 am

Today, reluctantly, we say goodbye to someone our listeners may have come to feel attached to, even though they've never heard her voice on our show.

Until about 3 years ago, we were so obsessed with getting Fresh Air on the air every day that we were virtually ignoring all the social media possibilities, and our website was pretty bare-boned. Then we hired Melody Kramer to be our associate producer for online media.

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