Terry Gross

Host, Fresh Air

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's interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by host and executive producer Terry Gross' unique approach. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says The San Francisco Chronicle.

Gross isn't afraid to ask tough questions, but she sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrender 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. But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions," observes Gross. "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; it now airs on more than 450 stations. Compilation CDs of Fresh Air are available in the NPR Shop.

Gross's book All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists was published by Hyperion in 2004.

In addition to her work on Fresh Air, Gross has served as guest host for the weekday and weekend editions of NPR's All Things Considered. Her appearances include a spot as co-anchor of the PBS show, The Great Comet Crash, produced by WHYY-TV, a short series of interviews for WGBH-TV/Boston, and an appearance as guest-host for CBS Nightwatch.

In 1994, Fresh Air received a Peabody Award, which cited Gross for her "probing questions and unusual insights." In 1999, America Women in Radio and Television gave Gross a Gracie Award in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, Gross received the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." She has received honorary degrees from Princeton University, Haverford College and Drexel University. She received a bachelor's degree in English and an M. ED. in Communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her alma mater awarded her an honorary degree in 2007 and a 1993 Distinguished Alumni Award. Gross was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Billionaire filmmaker Howard Hughes has long been regarded as one of Hollywood's most eccentric and prolific playboys. A few years back, writer and film critic Karina Longworth stumbled onto an online message board, listing women Hughes had had sexual relationships with — just a list of names, no other information.

"In each of these names there's a whole life and a whole story," says Longworth, who hosts the film podcast You Must Remember This.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

You may be shocked by what's living in your home — the bacteria, the fungi, viruses, parasites and insects. Probably many more organisms than you imagined.

"Every surface; every bit of air; every bit of water in your home is alive," says Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "The average house has thousands of species."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST")

In 2015, Saudi Arabia initiated a bombing campaign against its southern neighbor Yemen in what was essentially a proxy war — the Saudis backed a government that had been forced out of the capital by the Houthis, a group allied with Iran.

The Obama administration backed the Saudis with targeting intelligence and logistical help. The assumption, says New York Times journalist Robert Worth, was that the war wouldn't be "too damaging" or last too long. That assumption turned out to be wrong on both counts.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Partisan combat has always been a part of American politics, but Atlantic journalist McKay Coppins traces many of the extreme tactics used today to one man: former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

When Gingrich entered Congress in 1979, the Georgia Republican rejected bipartisanship and "turned national politics and congressional politics into team sport," Coppins says.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Growing up, Jonah Hill always wanted to be a writer and director. But then he took an acting class and received such positive feedback that his career took an unexpected detour.

"You find the right compliment for the right insecure person and that could change your life," Hill says. "It derailed me for 16 years."

Hill's "amazing derailment" put him in front of the camera, where he went on to co-star in Superbad, Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, among other films. But throughout it all, his desire to make films never subsided.

Journalist Eli Saslow says there's a "straight line" between the suspect charged with 29 counts related to the deaths of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday and the views of the white nationalist movement.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Since the 2010 elections, 24 states have implemented new restrictions on voting. Alabama now requires a photo ID to cast a ballot.

Melissa McCarthy is not interested in playing pleasant characters — flawless women with perfect clothes and relationships. "Who wants to watch that?" she asks. "There's nothing to sink your teeth into. ... The people I love and like are filled with quirks and eccentricities. ... We're a bundle of all these different weirdnesses."

Instead, McCarthy became known for her comic roles in movies like Bridesmaids and The Heat — and for her impersonation of President Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer, on SNL.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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The central character in the Netflix animated comedy series BoJack Horseman is a former sitcom star struggling with depression and alcohol addiction — who also happens to be a horse. Creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg likens his series to that other show about a talking horse, Mister Ed.

Part of the original pitch for the show, he says, was, "What's Mister Ed like behind the scenes? When Mister Ed goes home after shooting, who is he really?"

When author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka was in the fourth grade, his grandparents called him into the living room. "I remember thinking: Oh maybe we're going to go on another family vacation," he says. (The last time they called a family meeting he learned they were going to Disney World.)

But this wasn't that kind of family meeting. Krosoczka's grandparents had insisted on taking legal custody of him as a toddler — and they were about to tell him why.

Phoebe Robinson has set out to change the demographics of comedy: "It's a very white male, straight male-dominated industry — and that can be exhausting," she says.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

On July 20, 1969, an estimated 530 million people watched on live television as Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong became the first human to step upon the surface of the moon. Nearly 50 years later, Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle revisits Armstrong's "giant leap for mankind" — but with a more intimate lens. First Man, starring Ryan Gosling, focuses on the personal sacrifices behind Armstrong's monumental step.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Writer and director Tamara Jenkins was in her early 40s and struggling with infertility when she and her husband began what she calls a "by any means necessary" campaign to have a child.

It was an emotionally draining time. They looked into international adoption and also began in vitro fertilization treatment. A friend in whom Jenkins confided encouraged her to write about her experiences, but Jenkins demurred.

"I was horrified and just repulsed," she says. "I would never write about this stuff."

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