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.

There is a 30-year gap in the life expectancies of Black and white Chicagoans depending on their ZIP code. On average, residents of the Streeterville neighborhood, which is 73% white, live to be 90 years old.

When Nicole Lynn Lewis got pregnant in high school, she thought it might end her dream of going to college and having a career. She felt ashamed, in part because of how people regarded her as a pregnant Black teenager.

"In that moment, as I watched those two pink lines show up on that test on the counter of my bathroom, [I felt] that I was now in a different category as an individual and as a person," she says, "that I would forever be in that category of someone who had made all the wrong decisions, someone who was not going to be successful."

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Next we're going to listen to some of Terry's interview with Kate Winslet recorded in December. Winslet is starring in the new HBO series "Mare Of Easttown" in which she plays a divorced police detective in the Pennsylvania town she grew up in. Here's a clip from the first episode. A neighbor has called the mare after she finds a man peering into her window.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MARE OF EASTTOWN")

KATE WINSLET: (As Mare Sheehan) Oh, you're here.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

On May 3, 1971, 20,000 demonstrators came to Washington, D.C., stopping traffic in the streets in a protest against the war in Vietnam.

On that same day nearly 50 years ago, NPR, then a fledgling news organization, premiered a new afternoon show. In its first show, All Things Considered presented a 23-minute sound portrait of the day's protests and confrontations that was broadcast to stations across the country.

It's a strange thing to host a late show alone without a live audience. But when the pandemic hit last year, the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert had to adjust.

Initially Colbert taped his show from home, with his wife and sons as crew — an experience he describes as a kind of 19th century "cottage industry."

"Like, the kids are going to come and help Dad cut the wood every day or something," he jokes. But he adds, it was also "intimate and wonderful and something I would never experience in another way."

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.

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