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.

Before she became a superstar, Aretha Franklin was a girl who sang gospel in her father's church in Detroit. Her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, was a preacher who became known for the radio broadcasts and albums of his sermons. When the Rev. Franklin was establishing himself in the 1950s, he toured the Deep South gospel circuit with his gospel caravan — and, when Aretha was 12, he took her along as a performer.

Writer Lauren Hough grew up in a nomadic doomsday Christian cult called the Children of God. She says she remembers being taught animals could talk to Noah — that's how he was able to get them on to the ark — and that heaven was located in a pyramid in the moon.

"I had problems with [the teachings] pretty early on, but I couldn't express those," she says. "Probably the earliest thing I learned is just keep your mouth shut — and I couldn't, which was a problem."

On April 11, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn. It was the latest in a long line of killings of Black people by police in America.

The Sackler family has spent decades making a name for itself in philanthropic circles, with sizable donations to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, the British Museum, Harvard University and Yale University, among other institutions.

But as the public began to scrutinize the source of the family's money, many museum wings and buildings that once displayed the Sackler name have removed it.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Neither the pandemic nor age can keep legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp from her work. During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown, Tharp, now 79, choreographed several dances through through Zoom. One was with four dancers — each of whom was in a different time zone.

Growing up in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cookbook author Reem Kassis never expected to enter the food industry. For her, the kitchen represented a "life sentence" for women.

Instead, Kassis moved to the U.S. when she was 17, first studying business at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and then at the London School of Economics. It wasn't until she had a child that she began to see the kitchen as a "powerful place" where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.

Growing up poor in Washington state, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile learned about harmony and rhythm while performing as a backup singer for a friend's dad, who worked as an Elvis impersonator.

"It was pretty interesting education to be on the backside of the stage looking at audience faces," Carlile says. "I learned the things that they react to, how a smile is contagious. ... And I remembered thinking, standing back there in my poodle skirt going, 'Actually, I want to be that dude.' "

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. G. Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent who planned the Watergate burglary that led to President Richard Nixon's downfall, died Tuesday at his daughter's home in Virginia. He was 90.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Kathryn Hahn stars in the Disney+ "WandaVision" which combines classic 1960s sitcom TV and Marvel Comics. Hahn plays the sitcom staple the nosy neighbor.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WANDAVISION")

KATHRYN HAHN: (As Agatha) Hello, dear. I'm Agnes, your neighbor to the right - my right, not yours. Forgive me for not stopping by sooner to welcome you to the block. My mother-in-law was in town, so I wasn't.

(LAUGHTER)

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

For people serving time in jail or prison, it may seem like punishment ends on the day of release. But in fact, thousands of restrictions dictate the terms of life after incarceration, too.

University of Chicago professor Reuben Jonathan Miller estimates that there are 45,000 "laws, policies and administrative sanctions" in the U.S. that target people with criminal records. Some ban the formerly incarcerated from serving on juries. Others prevent people with records from gaining employment.

The Oscar-nominated movie Soul tackles passion, purpose and the meaning of life — topics that aren't usually addressed in animated films.

The movie centers on Joe, a middle school band teacher who feels unfulfilled because his ambition is to be a full-time jazz musician. On the day he lands the biggest gig of his career, Joe nearly dies — but then gets the chance to return to his body if he can figure out the purpose of his life.

DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Our guest, Loretta Lynn, recorded her first single, "I'm A Honky Tonk Girl," 61 years ago. Lynn is famous for her singing and songwriting and for her life story told in the 1980 film "Coal Miner's Daughter." It was adapted from Lynn's 1976 memoir of the same name, which described how she grew up in poverty in eastern Kentucky, became a wife at age 13 and, after having four children, started writing songs and performing [see POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION below].

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro didn't set out to become a novelist. In the 1960s, he came to San Francisco from England with his acoustic guitar, hoping to make it as a singer-songwriter.

Things didn't work out the way he had planned. Within a month, someone stole his guitar, and eventually Ishiguro turned to writing fiction. But he continues to draws on his roots as a songwriter.

During the pandemic, Jon Batiste took his music to the streets. This summer, the music director and bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert performed at marches protesting the killing of George Floyd. Recently he did a pop-up performance at a mass vaccination site in New York.

When you have a dog or a cat that is in pain and near the end of life, you have the option of putting down your beloved pet. Some people who fear loss of function — mental or physical — would like a similar option for ending their own lives in a safe, peaceful and legal manner.

Journalist Katie Engelhart explores the "right to die" movement in her new book, The Inevitable. Engelhart says individuals seeking death on their own terms sometimes resort to ordering lethal veterinary drugs from Mexico or China.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the first vaccines to be activated by mRNA — and would not have been possible without the invention of the gene editing technology known as CRISPR.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Our guest, James McBride, first became known for his memoir, "The Color Of Water," about growing up in a Brooklyn housing project. He's the son of a white mother and an African American father who died shortly before McBride was born. When McBride was a teenager, he discovered his mother was Jewish, the daughter of an Orthodox rabbi. In 2016, President Obama presented McBride with the National Humanities Medal for, quote, "humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America."

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The film One Night in Miami imagines a night in 1964 where Cooke, Clay, Malcolm X and Jim Brown meet. We listen back to interviews with biographers Peter Guralnick, Jonathan Eig and Alex Haley.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Some of the most viewed, most remarkable and revealing video of the January 6 Capitol riot was shot inside the Senate chamber by my guest, Luke Mogelson. Some of his video was used as evidence by House managers prosecuting Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.

National Book Award-winning author Tim O'Brien is best known for his stories about the Vietnam War, including the 1990 novel, The Things They Carried. But he says he'd give up every book he's written if it meant more time on earth with his two young sons.

Now 74, O'Brien didn't become a father until his late 50s. He says he was initially worried that having children would curtail his ability to write.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

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