Fresh Air

Weekdays at 11am
Terry Gross

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

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Movie Reviews
12:06 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

In 'Whiplash,' A Young Drummer Plays Till He Bleeds

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Television
12:06 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Inconsistent Memories Are Revisited In 'The Affair,' A Captivating New Drama

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Author Interviews
12:06 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on."

Originally aired Jan. 7, 2014.

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Music
1:35 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

One Final Offering From John Coltrane

In November 1966, eight months before he died of cancer, John Coltrane played a concert at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was not a financial success --only 700 people showed up — and the band's high-energy music proved too much for some listeners. That concert recording is now officially out for the first time. It got Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead thinking about what Coltrane was up to.

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Shots - Health News
1:17 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

The Great Bluff That Led To A 'Magical' Pill And A Sexual Revolution

The history of how the birth control pill was developed in the 1950s is recounted in Jonathan Eig's new book The Birth of the Pill.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 2:20 pm

In the 1950s, four people — the founder of the birth control movement, a controversial scientist, a Catholic obstetrician and a wealthy feminist — got together to create a revolutionary little pill the world had never seen before.

They were sneaky about what they were doing — skirting the law, lying to women about the tests they performed and fibbing to the public about their motivations.

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Book Reviews
1:41 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

'Florence Gordon' Isn't Friend Material, But You'll Appreciate Her

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 9:41 am

Last year, the big debate in the world of books was over the question of whether or not a novel has to feature "likeable" main characters in order for readers to identify with them or make us want to stick with their stories. The debate had a sexist tinge to it: Female characters seemed especially burdened with the need to be pleasing.

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Television
12:53 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

'Homeland' Regains Urgency With Twin Protagonists And Divided Loyalties

Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison on Homeland. Season 4 begins Sunday on Showtime.
Joe Alblas Courtesy of Showtime

Season 4 of the Showtime drama Homeland begins Sunday — and it begins with a very significant change. Claire Danes is back as Carrie Mathison, the gifted but troubled CIA agent with bipolar disorder. But her co-star for the first three seasons, Damian Lewis, who played former prisoner-of-war and suspected traitor Nicholas Brody, is not.

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Author Interviews
12:35 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

Bio Credits Manson's Terrible Rise To Right Place And Time

California parolee Charles Manson arrived in San Francisco in 1967, when the city was full of young waifs looking for a guru. In Manson, Jeff Guinn argues that if the cult leader had instead been paroled in a place like Nebraska, he likely would not have been so successful.


Originally aired Sept. 18, 2013.

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Movie Reviews
12:35 pm
Fri October 3, 2014

'Gone Girl': A Gripping Film That's More Fun Than The Book

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:30 am
Sat September 27, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Jimi Hendrix Movie, 'Transparent' And Ron Perlman

André Benjamin plays Jimi Hendrix in the new film Jimi: All Is By My Side.
Patrick Redmond Courtesy of Open Road Films

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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Author Interviews
2:32 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

What's Mittens Thinking? Make 'Sense' Of Your Pet's Behavior

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Movie Reviews
2:32 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

British Coalminers Strike With A Gay Coalition In 'Pride,' A Crowd-Pleaser

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Television
2:32 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

In 'Transparent,' A 70-Year-Old Divorced Dad Comes Out As A Woman

Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura on the new drama Transparent on Amazon Prime.
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Originally published on Sat September 27, 2014 3:00 pm

Thanks to Netflix, many of us are familiar with the concept of new TV series that premiere not on broadcast or cable television, but on a streaming entertainment service. And Netflix isn't the only streaming service getting into the act. Starting Friday, Amazon Prime subscribers have access to the entire first season of a new series called Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor.

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Author Interviews
2:08 pm
Wed September 24, 2014

After Childhood Abuse, 'Times' Columnist Says He Chose Life Over Vengeance

Charles Blow is a New York Times columnist. Before that, he worked at the paper as the graphics director and design director for news.
Beowolf Sheehan Courtesy of

Originally published on Mon September 29, 2014 1:33 pm

A new memoir by New York Times columnist Charles Blow begins with him in his car on his way to shoot and kill a man. That man is Blow's older cousin, who allegedly sexually abused Blow when Blow was 7 years old.

Blow, who was 20 when he set out for vengeance, turned back and never pulled the trigger. He finally realized he couldn't continue to live his life "through the eyes of a 7-year-old boy," he writes.

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Movie Interviews
1:55 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

From Sideman To Star: A New Film Captures Jimi Hendrix's Pivotal Year

André Benjamin plays Jimi Hendrix in the new film Jimi: All Is By My Side.
Patrick Redmond Courtesy of Open Road Films

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 2:33 pm

In 1966, Jimmy James, a guitarist working as a sideman in R&B bands, is discovered by Linda Keith, a 20-year-old music insider. She helps him move to London, where he developed his own sound. During that year, he transformed himself into an electrifying performer known as Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix formed his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience, recorded his first album Are You Experienced, and soon became a star.

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Book Reviews
11:45 am
Tue September 23, 2014

After WWI, A Mother And Daughter Must Take In 'Paying Guests'

Originally published on Tue September 23, 2014 2:10 pm

Sarah Waters' new novel, The Paying Guests, is a knockout, which isn't a word any of her characters would use.

The book opens in 1922: The Edwardian Age, with its high collars and long skirts, is dead; the Jazz Age is waiting to be born — at least, that's the case in the suburban backwater of London where Waters' main character, a 26-year-old spinster named Frances Wray, lives with her mother.

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Television
1:43 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

'Madame Secretary' Pales In Comparison To 'The Good Wife'

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 3:39 pm

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Author Interviews
1:43 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

The Long, Scary Journey From A 'Terrorist's Son' To A Peace Activist

In a March 2014 TED talk, Ebrahim credited The Daily Show's Jon Stewart with helping him realize that "a person's race, religion or sexual orientation had nothing to do with the quality of one's character."
Ryan Lash

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 3:39 pm

When Zak Ebrahim was 7 years old, his father, El Sayyid Nosair, assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-Orthodox, anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League. That was in 1990.

Then, from prison, Nosair helped plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — and was later convicted as one of the conspirators.

Ebrahim was shocked to learn what his father was capable of. So was Ebrahim's mother. Ebrahim writes his story in his new memoir, The Terrorist's Son.

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Music
1:43 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Pere Ubu's 'Carnival Of Souls' Is A Dreamscape That's Never Dreamy

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 3:39 pm

Pere Ubu's new album, Carnival of Souls, is a reference to the 1962 cult horror film. But as Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker hears it, the band, led since the late '70s by co-founder David Thomas, has created something far more rich, experimental, and emotional than spooky, horror-movie music.

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Music Articles
12:01 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

As A Lyricist And Novelist, The Mountain Goats' Lead Man Writes About Pain

John Darnielle's first novel was about a teenage boy in a psychiatric institution who is obsessed with heavy metal.
Lalitree Darnielle Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 8:50 am

When The Mountain Goats' founder John Darnielle was a teenager, he went through a self-destructive phase.

"Your intelligence doesn't override your desire to destroy yourself," Darnielle tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I really, really did not want to be in my own skin. I really wanted to get high and stay high."

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Author Interviews
12:27 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

13 Days Of High Emotion That Led To The Egypt-Israel Peace

As President Jimmy Carter looks on, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (left) shakes hands with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David on Sept. 6, 1978.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 4:13 pm

When President Jimmy Carter decided to bring Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to Camp David in 1978 to broker peace talks, his hope that the two men would like each other was "completely naïve and mistaken," says journalist Lawrence Wright.

The first couple of days turned into a screaming match.

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Television
11:16 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Australian Comic Finds Humor In Humiliation For His Sitcom 'Please Like Me'

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 12:19 pm

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Remembrances
11:16 am
Mon September 15, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Pulitzer-Prize Winning Editorial Cartoonist Tony Auth

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 12:19 pm

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Music
11:16 am
Mon September 15, 2014

For Duo Tennis, Pop Is A Natural Language

Originally published on Mon September 15, 2014 12:19 pm

Can you re-invent lively pop from the distant past? Fresh Air music critic Milo Miles says the songwriting team Tennis does just that with their new third album, Ritual in Repeat.

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Television
1:01 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

As 'Boardwalk Empire' Comes To A Close, Creator Reminisces About Its Start

On Boardwalk Empire, Steve Buscemi's character, Nucky Thompson, is modeled after Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, the corrupt county treasurer of Atlantic City during the Prohibition years. The HBO show started its fifth and final season Sunday.
Macall B. Polay HBO

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 6:26 am

When HBO executives handed The Sopranos executive producer Terence Winter a copy of Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson, he says they asked him if he could find a TV series in it. The book was about the history of corruption in Atlantic City through the 20th century.

"And [they] said ... 'Oh, by the way, Martin Scorsese is attached to this,' " Winter tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "So, without even reading the book, I said, 'Yes, there's a TV series in this, and I'm going to find it.' "

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Book Reviews
12:57 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Futuristic 'Bone Clocks' Encompasses A Strange, Rich World Of Soul-Stealers

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 12:56 pm

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Iraq
11:38 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Islamic State Was Fueled By 'Epic American Failure In Iraq,' Reporter Says

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Television
10:59 am
Wed September 10, 2014

3 Roosevelts Come Alive In PBS Documentary, Ken Burns' Best Yet

In this undated photo, Theodore Roosevelt waves to a crowd.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 1:28 pm

Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his most resonant and famous line during his presidential inauguration speech of 1933: "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It was resonant because he was being defiant, and optimistic, in the face of the Great Depression — and it was famous because it was broadcast live, to the entire nation, on the relatively new medium of radio.

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Music Interviews
1:58 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

How The Four Seasons Clashed, Dealt With The Mob And Made Lasting Hits

Along with the Broadway play, the new film Jersey Boys highlights Bob Gaudio's role in The Four Seasons: writing most of the group's hits. In the movie, John Lloyd Young stars as Frankie Valli (left), Erich Bergen as Bob Gaudio (second from left), Vincent Piazza as Tommy DeVito (second from right), and Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi (right).
Keith Bernstein AP

Frankie Valli used to be the only name people recognized from The Four Seasons. But the Broadway musical and film Jersey Boys changed that: Now, more people know about Bob Gaudio.

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Author Interviews
11:59 am
Mon September 8, 2014

How 'Gatsby' Went From A Moldering Flop To A Great American Novel

A first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby was displayed at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair in 2013. Book critic Maureen Corrigan — who calls the cover "striking" — says she likes to think that if it landed on her porch today among the more than 200 books she receives a week, she would read it.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 12:53 pm

When book critic Maureen Corrigan first read F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in high school, she was unimpressed.

"Not a lot happens in Gatsby," Corrigan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's not a plot-driven novel and I also thought, 'Eh, it's another novel about rich people.' And I grew up in a blue-collar community."

She also couldn't relate, she says, because it doesn't feature any likeable female characters.

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