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.

Six months after the conclusion of President Trump's impeachment, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin says special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was fundamentally flawed.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a "caste" system.

Wilkerson describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources.

"Caste focuses in on the infrastructure of our divisions and the rankings, whereas race is the metric that's used to determine one's place in that," she says.

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Growing up in Texas and Mississippi, author Robert P. Jones was a very active member of his Southern Baptist Convention church. Between youth group, Bible studies and prayer services, he spent about 6-7 hours each week at church or doing church related things.

But in all that time, he never really heard about the church's history — including the fact that Southern Baptists split from the North around 1844 because the Northern Baptists opposed slavery.

Thirty-five years ago, Natasha Trethewey's stepfather shot and killed her mother outside of her home in a suburb of Atlanta.

Trethewey's stepfather was sentenced to life in prison, and Trethewey, who was 19 at the time, spent years trying to forget what had happened.

"It was just a life I wanted to leave behind," she says. "I wanted to forge a new life for myself that didn't include that past, but, of course, that was impossible."

One of the first jokes comic Mike Birbiglia ever told on stage was about remaining childless. He'd say: "I'm not going to have kids until I'm sure that nothing else good can happen in my life."

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Donald Trump's estranged niece, Mary Trump, has long been uncomfortable with her last name.

"It's not a very common name," she said in an interview with Fresh Air on Tuesday. "If I paid with a credit card, I invariably got asked if I was related [to Donald]. And I always said no."

Before her uncle entered politics, that's usually where the conversation ended. But Donald Trump's political career changed things. "It was a bit of a shock, you know, to hear my name being mentioned dozens of times a day," Mary Trump said.

Note: This interview discusses, and the show contains, scenes depicting, and stories about, sexual assault.

The new HBO series I May Destroy You is a stylish, sometimes funny drama about a very serious subject: rape and sexual assault.

The series centers on Arabella, a young writer who is raped after her drink is spiked at a bar. Michaela Coel, the show's creator, writer, director and star, was assaulted in a similar way when she was writing and starring in her first TV series, Chewing Gum.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We're going to listen back to the interview I recorded with John Lewis that was first broadcast on January 19, 2009. It was Martin Luther King Day and the day before the inauguration of America's first African American president, Barack Obama.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Before Danny Trejo became an actor, he was an inmate in and out of California jails, including San Quentin and Folsom Prison, for more than a decade on charges related to drugs and robbery. His unusual story is told in the new documentary "Inmate #1: The Rise Of Danny Trejo," which tells of Trejo's path from prison to Hollywood.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "INMATE #1: THE RISE OF DANNY TREJO")

Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost knows there's something about his clean-cut image that rubs some people the wrong way. When he joined SNL as a writer in 2005, he worked off-camera — and didn't have to think about his looks.

"When you're not on camera or on television, you don't really consider what you look like," he says. But all that changed when he began working on-air in 2014 as the co-anchor of the show's "Weekend Update."

As a child, Welsh actor Matthew Rhys fell in love with old American noir films — so much so that he'd sometimes channel iconic movie stars.

"There were moments when I was pulling the last drag on my cigarette and then ... trying to casually throw a one liner," Rhys says. "[Humphrey Bogart] was in my head a lot vocally."

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today's guest is actor Andre Holland, who has starred in very different roles in very different media. On film, he played the adult Kevin in the movie "Moonlight." On TV, he starred as the owner of a jazz club in Paris in the Netflix miniseries "The Eddy." And next week, on New York Public Radio, he stars in a new radio play adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Richard II." Here he is in the title role in a scene with Miriam Hyman.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

On Feb. 9, 1950, Joseph McCarthy, a junior senator from Wisconsin, stunned the nation — and stoked the paranoia of the Cold War — when he alleged that there were 205 spies working within the U.S. State Department. It was the beginning of a four-year anti-communist, anti-gay crusade in which McCarthy would charge military leaders, diplomats, teachers and professors with being traitors.

Growing up in Queens in the 1970s, Padma Lakshmi remembers eating a spaghetti dish her mother made with upma, an Indian porridge. The Top Chef host and executive producer, who came to the U.S. from India at age 4, says such culinary mash-ups are common in immigrant kitchens.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

For Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hip-hop musical Hamilton, history always informs the present. "The past isn't done with us. Ever, ever, ever," he says.

Hamilton tells the story of the nation's Founding Fathers, including Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Miranda wrote the music and lyrics and starred in the original production, which debuted on Broadway in 2015. The production garnered 11 Tony Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for drama and a Grammy for its original cast recording.

Copyright 2020 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.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The killing of George Floyd has ignited protests and inspired conversations — and changes — across the globe.

Author Susan Burton says food has been the site of her anxieties for as long as she can remember. For decades the editor at This American Life struggled with eating disorders.

Through therapy, Burton connected her disordered eating to her parents' divorce and not getting emotional needs met. She says that one of the reasons she was so preoccupied with food was that she was hungry all the time: "Hunger was something that I believed protected me and gave me power," she says.

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