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.

When Frans de Waal started studying nonhuman primates, in the Netherlands more than 40 years ago, he was told not to consider the emotions of the animals he was observing.

"Thoughts and feelings — the mental processes basically — were off limits," he says. "We were told not to talk about them, because they were considered by many scientists as 'inner states' and you only were allowed to talk about 'outer states.' "

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Aidy Bryant mourns the time she lost in her teens and early 20s feeling self-conscious about her body. The Emmy-nominated comic and actor says she lived in fear of judgments about her weight.

"I felt like the worst possible thing that anyone could ever do would be to think that I was fat, to call me fat," she says.

Bryant began to direct her energy into her writing and comedy career. She moved to Chicago to pursue comedy at Second City, and in 2012, became a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. You probably know my guest, the New York Times deputy general counsel David McCraw, from a letter he wrote that went viral. It was in response to a letter from Donald Trump's lawyer threatening to sue the Times for libel. McCraw will read that letter in a minute.

From an early age, Barbara Brown Taylor knew that she wanted to live a spiritual life.

"It started early in my life," she says, "a hunger for the beyond, for the transcendent, for the light within the light, the glow within the grass, the sparkle within the water."

Taylor went on to become an ordained Episcopal priest, working as rector of a church. But she later left her job with the church and began teaching the world's religions at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Mario Puzo's "The Godfather." A new edition has just been released with an introduction by Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola and Puzo co-wrote the screenplays for all three "Godfather" films. This is from the opening scene of the first one.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GODFATHER")

In July 2018, former Fox News co-President Bill Shine joined the White House staff as deputy chief of staff for communications and assistant to President Trump.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The new film "Never Look Away" is about an artist, a painter, who's first exposed to modern art as a child growing up in Nazi Germany. He's taken by his aunt to an exhibit of modern art that was curated by the Nazis to show what degenerate art looks like - the kind of art the Nazis are banning. By the time the boy is an art student, the Russian Communists have taken over East Germany, where the boy lives. And all art is expected to be propaganda, showing images of happy, working people.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Pamela Adlon is a member of the "sandwich generation" — the mothers/daughters and fathers/sons who find themselves simultaneously caring for their children and their parents. Adlon's three daughters live at home, and her mom lives next door — a reality reflected in Better Things, the FX series she writes, directs and stars in.

Now returning for its third season, the show centers on a single working mother of three daughters who is also trying to help her elderly mother and keep her acting career alive.

"It's an exaggerated version of my life," Adlon says.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. The Academy Awards ceremony is Sunday. Today we continue our series of interviews with Oscar nominees. We begin with actor Rami Malek, who's up for best actor in the film "Bohemian Rhapsody," playing Freddie Mercury of the band Queen. The film's also nominated for Best Picture, Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The title of the film comes from the title of one of their most famous songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY")

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Last week, reports surfaced of a new videotape showing singer R. Kelly engaging in sex acts with an underage girl. This is not the first time the R&B superstar has been accused of sexual abuse. Allegations have circled Kelly for decades; in 2002, a videotape surfaced that purportedly showed Kelly engaging in sexual acts with a teenage girl.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says it's not normal for the bureau to open investigations into the president.

"We don't have a lot of experience with investigating presidents of the United States," McCabe says. "There is not a standard S.O.P. on the shelf that you pull down to say, 'Here's how it's done.'"

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Growing up, neuroscientist Judith Grisel would take little sips of alcohol at family events, but it wasn't until she was 13 that she experienced being drunk for the first time. Everything changed.

"It was so complete and so profound," she says. "I suddenly felt less anxious, less insecure, less inept to cope with the world. Suddenly I was full and OK in a way that I had never been."

Grisel began chasing that feeling. Over the years, she struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. But along the way, she also became interested in the neuroscience of addiction.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. In anticipation of the upcoming Academy Awards, we'll be listening back to interviews with some of this year's Oscar contenders. We'll start with Joel and Ethan Coen, whose films include "Blood Simple," "Barton Fink," "Fargo," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "No Country For Old Men," "A Serious Man," "Hail, Caesar!" and "True Grit."

New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt doesn't have a badge or a gun or the ability to compel people to talk to him. Nevertheless, he has found sources to help him break major stories concerning special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into connections between President Trump, his associates and Russia.

Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer is not a fan of the word "very."

"It's not a dreadful word," he allows, but "it's one of my little pet words to do without if you can possibly do without it."

"Very" and its cousins "rather" and "really" are "wan intensifiers," Dreyer explains. In their place, he advises that writers look for a strong adjective that "just sits very nicely by itself" on the page. For example, "very smart" people can be "brilliant" and "very hungry" people can be "ravenous."

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Before states ran legal lotteries, there was the underground street version, the numbers. Some numbers games were run by organized crime. Some were run by enterprising individuals whose best chance at prosperity was through the underground economy. In 1960s Detroit, at a time when a lot of African-Americans were shut out of job and economic opportunities, Fannie Davis started running her own numbers operation. She did well and raised her five children in a comfortable home that she owned.

Pages