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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Health
10:04 am
Tue April 17, 2012

The Race To Create The Best Antiviral Drugs

The HIV-1 virus cultivated with human lymphocytes.
C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E. L. Palmer, W. R. McManus CDC Public Health Image Library

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 1:42 pm

If you've ever had a bacterial infection like staph or strep throat, your doctor may have prescribed penicillin. But if you've had the flu or a common cold virus, penicillin won't work. That's because antibacterials only kill bacteria, and both the flu and the common cold are viruses. So for illnesses like the flu, doctors prescribe antiviral drugs, which target the mechanisms that viruses use to reproduce.

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Music Reviews
9:41 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Loudon Wainwright III Looks Back At His 'Old Man'

As Loudon Wainwright III says in his song "In C," he likes to sing about "my favorite protagonist — me."

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Fresh Air Weekend
10:42 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: R.A. Dickey, Carole King

Carole King was in a doo-wop group called the Co-Sines when she was a teenager.
Jim McCrary

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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Politics
8:16 am
Thu April 12, 2012

Welfare Overhaul's Impact On America's Poorest

In August 1996, President Clinton prepares to sign legislation overhauling America's welfare system in the Rose Garden of the White House.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Sun April 22, 2012 7:03 pm

The welfare program that operated in the United States between the Franklin Roosevelt administration and the Clinton administration offered poor families assistance with few requirements or time frames. States could enroll as many people as they wanted in the program, and the federal government would match their funds.

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Music Reviews
10:25 am
Tue April 10, 2012

Bonnie Raitt's 'Slipstream': A Barnstorming Good Time

Bonnie Raitt.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 2:39 pm

The warmth and vigor of Bonnie Raitt's voice throughout her new album Slipstream, even when she's covering an oldie such as Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line," is vital and fresh — urgent, even. Raitt has always possessed a gift for taking a familiar phrase and rendering it in a manner that compels a listener to think anew about what the words really mean.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:15 am
Sat April 7, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Paul McCartney, Aziz Ansari

Paul McCartney.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat April 7, 2012 11:11 am

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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Sports
9:37 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Behind The Plate, A Baseball Catcher Tells All

Ausmus (left), playing for the Houston Astros in 2006, talks with pitcher Brad Lidge on the mound during a game.
David. J Philip AP

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 9:39 am

This interview was originally broadcast on August 18, 2011.

Brad Ausmus has spent most of his career in a squatting position. As a major league catcher, he crouched behind home plate for roughly seven months a year while playing with the San Diego Padres, the Detroit Tigers, the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

How did he practice for games? Even more squats.

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Music Reviews
9:35 am
Fri April 6, 2012

Finding And Curating The Roots Of Soul Music

The Burden Lifters.
Tompkins Square Records

Originally published on Fri April 6, 2012 9:50 am

Some years back, I was driving across the South with a German friend, leaving early Sunday morning from Athens, Ga., and heading to Louisiana. I turned on the radio and found a black church service in progress, and a woman with a remarkable voice singing. "Who's that?" my friend asked. I told him I had no idea. "But with a voice like that, she must be famous," he said. Some miles down the road, when the station had faded out, he still didn't believe me.

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Music Reviews
9:11 am
Tue April 3, 2012

There's Only 'One Direction' For This Boy Band: Up

One Direction.
Courtesy of the artist

The callow croon over a pulsating beat, the massed harmonies in the chorus, the lyrics about partying that name-check Katy Perry and include a wistful wish for a nameless girl to kiss the singer — this is boy-band music at its newest and its most timeless. The five young guys who comprise One Direction are single-minded.

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The Fresh Air Interview
11:06 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Earl Scruggs: The 2003 Fresh Air Interview

Earl Scruggs onstage in 2007.
Michael Buckner Getty Images

Banjo player Earl Scruggs, who helped shape the sound of American bluegrass music, died Wednesday. He was 88 years old.

Scruggs' name is almost synonymous with the banjo — and for good reason. He helped pioneer bluegrass music with his three-finger style of banjo picking, a technique now known as "Scruggs style."

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The Fresh Air Interview
8:00 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Paul McCartney Blows 'Kisses' To His Father's Era

Paul McCartney.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu March 29, 2012 3:52 pm

When Paul McCartney was a little boy, he always looked forward to New Year's Eve — the biggest social event of the year in Liverpool.

"The family would all gather, my dad was the pianist, and ... drinks would appear and people would start singing," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And apparently never stop until we all ran out for New Year's."

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Music Interviews
10:00 am
Wed March 28, 2012

The Thomashefskys: Stars Of The Yiddish Stage

Bessie and Boris Thomashefsky were mega-stars in the Yiddish theater world. Their story is told in a new documentary, written and conducted by their grandson, Michael Tilson Thomas.
courtesy of Michael Tilson Thomas

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 12:10 pm

The names Boris and Bessie Thomashefsky may not sound familiar today, but at the height of their fame in the 1920s and '30s, the Thomashefskys were one of the most famous couples in New York City's burgeoning Yiddish theater scene.

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Sports
8:26 am
Wed March 28, 2012

The 'Illegal Procedure' Of Paying College Athletes

Sean Locke iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed March 28, 2012 12:09 pm

In a stunning piece published in Sports Illustrated in 2010, former sports agent Josh Luchs admitted to paying money and providing other benefits to college athletes, in clear violation of NCAA and NFL Players Association rules. Luchs, who represented more than 60 NFL athletes over the course of his career, named more than 30 former players who allegedly accepted money or other benefits while still enrolled at universities around the country.

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Fresh Air Weekend
1:33 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Matthew Weiner, Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow hosts the nightly news talk show The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.
Bill Phelps Courtesy of the author

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:


'Mad Men' Creator On What's Next For Don Draper: Matthew Weiner offers his thoughts on Sunday night's Season 5 premiere, the character development of Don Draper, and what may be in store for the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

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Television
8:46 am
Mon March 26, 2012

'Mad Men' Creator On What's Next For Don Draper

Matthew Weiner has received nine Emmy Awards for his work on Mad Men and The Sopranos.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

The fourth season of the AMC drama Mad Men ended in a dramatically big way.

Protagonist Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, seemed happy. So happy, in fact, that he surprised his secretary, Megan, with an engagement ring on a Disneyland vacation with his children. The last shot of the episode showed Megan happily asleep in bed with Don, as he remained awake, staring up at the ceiling, before turning his head and staring out the window.

What did it mean?

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Fresh Air Weekend
1:39 am
Sat March 24, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Jonah Lehrer, Sonja Sohn

Sonja Sohn is currently starring in the ABC drama Body of Proof. She is the founder of the Baltimore nonprofit ReWired for Change.
Peter Konerko Courtesy Sonja Sohn

Originally published on Sat March 24, 2012 9:24 am

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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Movie Interviews
9:37 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Kevin Clash: Making Elmo Come To Life

Elmo and Clash, on the Sesame Street set in 2006.
Richard Termine Sesame Workshop

This interview was originally broadcast on December 15, 2011. Being Elmo premieres on the PBS program Independent Lens on April 5th.

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Movie Interviews
8:54 am
Fri March 23, 2012

Making 'The Muppets Movie' Was 'Dream Come True'

Jason Segel (left) and Walter (voiced by Peter Linz) try to reunite the original Muppets in the new family comedy The Muppets.
Disney

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 11:53 am

This interview was originally broadcast on November 23, 2011.

Nicholas Stoller made his directorial debut with the raunchy 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which starred Jason Segel as a guy who had to reassess his life after his girlfriend of five years dumped him.

Segel famously dropped his towel in the opening scenes of the film, which led The New York Times to call him "a young actor with nothing to hide."

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Television
8:52 am
Fri March 23, 2012

'Mad Men' Returns, Cocky And Confident As Ever

Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, celebrates his 40th birthday in the fifth season of Mad Men.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Fri March 23, 2012 9:04 am

Yes, it was worth the wait. Absolutely. Mad Men returns Sunday with a two-hour season premiere — and by the time it's over, if you react the way I did, you'll be satisfied and even comforted to have spent two wonderful hours with the folks at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.

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Movie Reviews
9:35 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Acting Trumps Action In A 'Games' Without Horror

In The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her little sister's place in a killing ritual televised to the masses.
Lionsgate

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:47 am

Suzanne Collins' novel The Hunger Games and its two sequels are smashingly well written and morally problematic. They're set in the future, in which a country — presumably the former United States — is divided into 12 fenced-off districts many miles apart.

Each year, to remind people of its limitless power, a totalitarian government holds a lottery, selecting two children per district to participate in a killing ritual — the Hunger Games of the title — that will be televised to the masses, complete with opening ceremonies and beauty-pageant-style interviews.

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Music Reviews
9:11 am
Wed March 21, 2012

Clark Terry: Not Just A Jazz Jester

Clark Terry.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 2:15 pm

Writing about Clark Terry in the past, I've grumbled that this great and distinctive trumpeter had long been stereotyped as a pixie-ish jazz jester. There's more range and deep blues feeling to his sound than that. It wasn't all sweetness when he was growing up poor in St. Louis, touring in the Deep South before WWII or breaking the color line with TV orchestras in 1960.

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Author Interviews
8:59 am
Wed March 21, 2012

'Imagine' That: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace

Cristian Baitg Cristian Baitg

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:48 am

Beethoven would try as many as 70 different versions of a musical phrase before settling on the right one. But other great ideas seem to come out of the blue. Bob Dylan, for example, came up with the lyrics to the chorus for "Like a Rolling Stone" soon after telling his manager that he was creatively exhausted and ready to bail from the music industry. After going to an isolated cabin, Dylan got an uncontrollable urge to write and spilled out his thoughts in dozens of pages — including the lyrics to the iconic song.

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Author Interviews
9:21 am
Tue March 20, 2012

Ahmed Rashid: Pakistan Lurches From Crisis To Crisis

Ahmed Rashid writes for The Washington Post, El Mundo and other international newspapers.
Courtesy of Ahmed Rashid

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 1:00 pm

In his latest book, Pakistan on the Brink, journalist Ahmed Rashid writes that he fears Pakistan "is on the brink of a meltdown."

"I fear almost anything could [send it over the edge]," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "There could be a major terrorist attack in the U.S. or Europe which is traced back to Pakistan. ... Then there's a very, very critical economic crisis in the country. There's no investment, no money, there's no energy — I live in Lahore. We've had no gas for six months."

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Author Interviews
10:04 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Blurring The Line Between Life And Death

Doctors perform a kidney transplant operation in Spain in 2010.
Xurxo Lobato Cover/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 5:24 pm

Dick Teresi wanted to write about how science determines the point between life and death. After a decade of research, Teresi says he still doesn't know what death is, but that the breadth of his ignorance has been widely expanded. Teresi's findings have been published in his new book, The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers — How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:30 am
Sat March 17, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Drones, Homes & Dave Brubeck

The Dave Brubeck Quartet.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

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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NPR Story
12:42 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

David Edestein Reviews 'Casa De Mi Padre'

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

At age 44, Will Ferrell has played an anchorman, championship NASCAR driver, ice skater, an elf, and George W. Bush. What's his next challenge? Making a movie in which he speaks nothing but Spanish. The Mexican-set action comedy "Casa de mi Padre" is directed by Matt Piedmont, who collaborated with Ferrell on his website Funny Or Die. Film critic David Edelstein has a review.

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Author Interviews
7:48 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Revisiting John Updike's 'Fresh Air' Interviews

John Updike wrote more than 25 novels. He was also a prolific short story and essay writer. Hundreds of his poems, criticisms and reviews appears in The New Yorker.
Martha Updike AP

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 9:47 am

These interviews were originally broadcast on March 17, 1988, March 16, 1989, and Oct. 14, 1997. You can listen to the original broadcasts in their entirety here.

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Movie Reviews
12:33 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

On DVD: Inside Bill Clinton's Campaign 'War Room'

George Stephanopoulos (left) and James Carville advised President Clinton during the 1992 election. Their strategic sessions in Clinton's "War Room" were filmed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.
October Films/Everett Collection

I think everyone can agree that the Republican Party's search for its presidential nominee has been a long, strange trip. For me, one of the strangest things about it is that, after all this time, I barely know who's running Mitt Romney's, Rick Santorum's and Newt Gingrich's campaigns. You see, over the past 30 years, political strategists have gone from being shadowy figures to being celebrities in their own right.

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Book Reviews
8:50 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Two Books That Delight In New York City's Dirt

Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 9:25 am

Some years ago I was visiting Disneyland and had a culture-clash encounter there with my one of fellow Americans. I was standing with my daughter on the miles-long meandering line for "It's a Small World After All" and I fell into a conversation with another mom; when this woman found out I was a native New Yorker, she treated me to her verdict on the city: "It's so dirty there!"

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Television
8:46 am
Wed March 14, 2012

Traveling To The Corners Of Our 'Frozen Planet'

An Adelie penguin male builds a stone nest in anticipation of the females' arrival. The males compete over the precious stones, often resorting to stealing to get the best ones.
Jeff Wilson Discovery Channel/BBC

Originally published on Fri March 16, 2012 9:47 am

I don't want to complain about Frozen Planet, however, until I dish out a little praise.

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