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.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Life during the pandemic has been feeling like something Stephen King dreamed up. About 40 years ago, in his novel "The Stand," he wrote about a virus that's 99% lethal and wipes out most of the population. That virus was accidentally released by a lab developing biological weapons. "The Stand" was adapted into an ABC miniseries back in 1994. A new miniseries adapted from "The Stand" is now streaming on CBS All Access.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE CHRISTMAS")

ROSEMARY CLOONEY: (Singing) I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used know.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase this week as American health care workers started getting vaccinated — the first in what will be a massive effort.

British MC and actor Riz Ahmed is used to rapping and reciting lines, but he had to learn a new form of communication for his latest film.

In Sound of Metal, Riz Ahmed plays a drummer who goes deaf. To prepare for the role, Ahmed immersed himself in deaf culture and worked with a deaf advocate to learn American Sign Language. He says the experience changed the way he thought about communication.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

John le Carre, the author whose spy novels were praised for transcending genre fiction and simply being great literature, died Saturday of pneumonia. He was 89. Many of his books have been adapted into films or TV series, including "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold," "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," "The Little Drummer Girl," "The Constant Gardener" and "The Night Manager."

With only a few weeks until President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, President Trump still won't admit defeat. White House correspondent Maggie Haberman, who has reported on Trump over the past 20 years, sheds light on his refusal to concede.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

For Kate Winslet, one of the best things about being an actor is taking on roles that scare her — and that's exactly what happened in her latest film, Ammonite.

Ammonite is a love story that centers on a real-life historical figure: Mary Anning was a self-taught paleontologist who lived on England's southern coast in the 19th century. She discovered fossils that were important contributions to the understanding of evolution — but she received little credit because she was a poor woman without connections.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2020 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:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

After spending much of his career playing the male lead in romantic comedies, actor Hugh Grant is shifting into darker roles.

"It's alarming how many pretty unpleasant narcissists I've played or been offered in the last six or seven years," Grant says. "It's certainly been a blessed relief after having to be Mr. Nice Guy for so many years — which is a thankless task for any actor."

DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. "The Carol Burnett Show," one of TV's classic variety shows, ran on CBS from 1967 to 1978. In terms of musical variety, it's a significant chapter in TV history. Carol admired the work of Sid Caesar on TV's first great sketch series, "Your Show Of Shows," at the start of the '50s.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I hope you're enjoying your Thanksgiving. We're going to spend our FRESH AIR Thanksgiving in the very good company of Conan O'Brien. Last week, he announced he'll be ending his late-night show in June after 28 years of hosting daily late-night shows. The last 10 years, his show was on TBS.

Editor's note: This interview mentions suicidal ideations.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

As coronavirus cases continue to surge both in the U.S. and around the world, there's promising news on the vaccine front.

Former President Barack Obama still has faith in the American system. Even as his successor, Donald Trump, refuses to acknowledge defeat in the recent presidential election, Obama maintains: "I don't believe democracy's broken."

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Actor Gillian Anderson says lying about her age helped her land the role that first made her famous. Anderson was just 24 — but claimed to be 27 — on her initial audition for the role of Dana Scully, a doctor investigating paranormal phenomena on The X-Files.

"I had no experience whatsoever. I had only ever done a couple of plays and scenes in college," Anderson says. "If [Scully] comes across as being a little bit cocky and at the same time green, it's all real. It's me trying to pretend like I know that I am the person that I say I am."

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Presidents typically reserve their most controversial decisions for their last weeks in office, writes my guest, journalist Garrett Graff. He says, so imagine what might happen in a post-election period when Donald Trump, a president who has spent four years demonstrating his lack of interest in norms and practices of a democracy, retains all the powers and authority of the presidency and officially has nothing left to lose.

Food science writer Harold McGee was in the middle of writing Nose Dive, his book about the science of smell, when he woke up one morning and realized that he couldn't smell his own coffee.

Loss of smell has since become associated with COVID-19. In McGee's case, it was the byproduct of a sinus infection. McGee remembers feeling panicked.

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