Fresh Air : About

Airs Monday through Thursday at 2pm on 93.9 FM; Airs Monday through Friday att 9pm on AM 820 and NJPR

"If you want to understand a political conflict, it helps to understand the culture in which that conflict is taking place," says host Terry Gross. Fresh Air is one of the most popular programs on public radio, breaking the "talk show" mold, and Gross is known for her fearless and insightful interviews with prominent figures in American arts, politics, and popular culture. "When there is a crisis in a foreign country, we sometimes call up that country's leading novelist or filmmaker to get the cultural perspective." Fresh Air features daily reports and reviews from critics and commentators on music, books, movies, and other cultural phenomena that invade the national psyche.

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  • 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's interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by host and executive producer Terry Gross' unique approach.

Latest Stories from Fresh Air

Last updated: Tuesday, April 21 2015 07:21 AM

Toni Morrison

Monday, April 20 2015 08:00 PM

Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison discusses her new novel, 'God Help the Child.' At 84, she looks back on her life and says she regrets everything. "It's not profound regret," she says. "It's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on."

Best Of: Mark Ronson's 'Uptown Funk' & 'House of Cards'

Saturday, April 18 2015 12:00 AM

Terry Gross interviews DJ, musician and record producer Mark Ronson. Ronson's hit song 'Uptown Funk' features vocals by Bruno Mars and spent 14 weeks as Billboard's #1 single. Also Beau Willimon, the creator of the Netflix series 'House of Cards.' And Ken Tucker reviews the new album from the band The Mountain Goats.

'Community's' Joel McHale

Friday, April 17 2015 08:00 PM

Actor Joel McHale, star of the comedy series 'Community.' Last year, NBC cancelled the series after five seasons, but now 'Community' is back, streaming new episodes on Yahoo. Also, film critic David Edelstein reviews 'True Story,' starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

DJ / Producer Mark Ronson & YouTube's First Decade

Thursday, April 16 2015 08:00 PM

DJ, musician and record producer Mark Ronson talks about his life in music. Ronson's hit song 'Uptown Funk' featuring Bruno Mars spent 14 weeks at #1 on Billboard's 'Hot 100' chart. Ronson had his first big success producing Amy Winehouse and has produced recordings by Paul McCartney, Adele, Christina Aguilera, Nas, and Lily Allen. Also, tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reflects on YouTube's first decade.

Billy Crystal & Josh Gad

Wednesday, April 15 2015 08:00 PM

In the new FX series 'The Comedians,' Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as satirical versions of themselves. The show is about how the two comedians are hesitant to work together and share the spotlight, but they do, and they begin a strained relationship, in which they're separated from each other by a generational comedy gap. They discuss their new show, their respective work on Broadway and voicing animation. Also David Bianculli shares his thoughts on the series finale of 'Justified.'

'House Of Cards' Showrunner Beau Willimon

Tuesday, April 14 2015 09:08 PM

'House of Cards' showrunner Beau Willimon talks about his work as a campaign advance man, using soliloquies in the show, and the "litmus test" in the pilot episode. Ken Tucker reviews The Mountain Goats' new album, 'Beat The Champ' and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Children's Crusade.'

'70s Radicals And The 'Days Of Rage'

Monday, April 13 2015 08:00 PM

Bryan Burrough's new book 'Days of Rage' describes the Weather Underground and other militant groups' tactics to protest the government in the 1970s. He interviews former radicals who had never gone on the record before. We also remember historian Stanley Kutler who helped uncover over 200 hours of Watergate tapes.

Best Of: Adam Driver & Philip Glass

Saturday, April 11 2015 12:00 AM

Before pursuing acting, Adam Driver was in the Marines. He says acting and being in the military aren't so different, "You have a group of people trying to accomplish a mission that's greater than themselves. It's not about one person." Driver stars in the new film comedy 'While We're Young.' Ken Tucker reviews Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp a Butterfly.' Composer Phillip Glass' new memoir, 'Words Without Music,' looks back on his childhood, travels through Asia and when his music provoked violence.

Extreme Medicine

Friday, April 10 2015 08:00 PM

Dr. Kevin Fong explores how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, outer space and deep sea. He compares the exploration of medicine with the "explorers of the 20th century and every age before them. His book is called 'Extreme Medicine.' David Edelstein reviews 'Clouds of Sils Maria.'

Adam Driver

Thursday, April 09 2015 08:00 PM

Actor Adam Driver of 'Girls' now stars in Noah Baumbach's new film, 'While We're Young.' He talks about leaving the Marines for Juilliard, doing sex scenes in 'Girls,' and why he'll never watch his own performances. Ken Tucker reviews Kendrick Lamar's newest album, 'To Pimp a Butterfly.'

Bed Bugs & Cartoonist Lucy Knisley

Wednesday, April 08 2015 08:00 PM

Brooke Borel tells us about the creepy, crawly world of bed bugs and how they have infiltrated our homes. Her new book is called 'Infested.' Also cartoonist Lucy Knisley discusses her new travelogue 'Displacement.' David Bianculli reviews 'The Comedians' and the new season of 'Louie.'

The Tsarnaev Brothers' Story & A Tribute To Billie Holiday

Tuesday, April 07 2015 08:00 PM

Journalist Masha Gessen's new book 'The Brothers' is about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers behind the Boston Marathon bombing. She shares her reportage from Dzhokhar's trial as well as her travels to Dagestan, where she learned more about the Tsarnaevs' background. Also, April 7 marks the hundredth birthday of singer Billie Holiday, born in Philadelphia. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has some thoughts on Holiday's changing style, her influences, and singers she influenced.

Composer Philip Glass

Monday, April 06 2015 08:00 PM

For the composer, life is how the past and the future connect. Philip Glass' new memoir, 'Words Without Music,' looks back on his childhood, travels through Asia and when his music provoked violence.

Best Of: 'Cucumber' Creator & Cartoonist 'BEK'

Saturday, April 04 2015 12:00 AM

Russell T. Davies, creator of the BBC series 'Queer As Folk,' talks about his new series 'Cucumber' and 'Banana.' Rock historian Ed Ward tells the story of Captain Beefheart and New Yorker cartoonist and 'Girls' producer Bruce Eric Kaplan (aka BEK) discusses his new illustrated memoir 'I Was A Child.'

Hilary Mantel On 'Wolf Hall'

Friday, April 03 2015 08:00 PM

Hilary Mantel is the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel, 'Wolf Hall,' and also for its 2012 sequel, 'Bring Up the Bodies.' She spoke to Terry Gross in 2012. 'Wolf Hall' is now a PBS Masterpiece costume drama airing Sunday April 5th. John Powers, our critic at large, reviews the new TV production.

New Yorker Cartoonist 'BEK' & Cynthia Lennon

Thursday, April 02 2015 08:00 PM

Bruce Eric Kaplan (aka BEK) has a new illustrated memoir called 'I Was A Child.' It describes his life in Maplewood, N.J., in the '60s and '70s. He says it's a way of keeping his parents alive, "not just for me, but for the world." He's also a producer on the HBO series 'Girls.' Then we remember Cynthia Lennon, Beatle John Lennon's first wife. She died yesterday at 75.

'Cucumber' & 'Banana' Creator Russell T. Davies

Wednesday, April 01 2015 08:30 PM

'Cucumber' tells the adventures of a middle-aged gay man; 'Banana' is a series of short stories. Russell T. Davies, who made 'Queer As Folk,' says the titles came from a scientific institute in Switzerland. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the HBO documentary on Frank Sinatra and Milo Miles reviews a latin groove anthology.

Judge Says Raising Money To Be Elected Is 'Tawdry'

Tuesday, March 31 2015 08:00 PM

Mixing judges with campaign contributions can lead to conflicts of interest. Fresh Air talks to retired Judge Sue Bell Cobb and the Center for American Progress' Billy Corriher. Rock historian Ed Ward tells the story of Captain Beefheart.

How We Became 'One Nation Under God'

Monday, March 30 2015 08:00 PM

Kevin Kruse discusses his book, 'One Nation Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America.' Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Poetry Notebook,' a book of criticism by Clive James. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews saxophonist Art Pepper's live recordings.

Best Of: Creators of 'Justified' & 'American Crime'

Saturday, March 28 2015 12:00 AM

'Justified' creator Graham Yost talks about finishing up the sixth and final season and staying true to writer Elmore Leonard's vision. Ken Tucker reviews Courtney Barnett's album 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.' 'American Crime' revolves round a murder case and is an examination of race, ethnicity and the criminal justice system. Nearly all the characters are part victim and part aggressor. Creator John Ridley (Screenwriter, 12 Years a Slave) and actor Benito Martinez (The Shield) explain.

Oncologist On The 'Biography Of Cancer'

Friday, March 27 2015 08:00 PM

In 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,' Siddhartha Mukherjee chronicled how our understanding of cancer has evolved. Starting Monday, Ken Burns' three-part documentary will air on PBS. Terry Gross talked with Mukherjee in 2010. Film critic David Edelstein reviews Noah Baumbach's new film, 'While We're Young.'

'Justified' Creator Graham Yost

Thursday, March 26 2015 08:00 PM

Graham Yost, creator and showrunner of the FX series 'Justified,' talks about staying true to Elmore Leonard's vision. Ken Tucker reviews Courtney Barnett's album 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.'

Jeffrey Toobin On Ted Cruz

Wednesday, March 25 2015 08:00 PM

When Ted Cruz announced his presidency, he said: "It's time to reclaim the constitution." The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin discusses the strict legal philosophy that has shaped Cruz's political agenda. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'American Ghost.'

'American Crime' Creator John Ridley & Actor Benito Martinez

Tuesday, March 24 2015 08:00 PM

The show, revolving around a murder case, is an examination of race, ethnicity and the criminal justice system. Nearly all the characters are part victim and part aggressor. Creator John Ridley (Screenwriter, 12 Years a Slave) and actor Benito Martinez (The Shield) explain. David Bianculli gives us his first impressions of late night's James Corden.

The Debate Over Killer Whales In Marine Parks

Monday, March 23 2015 08:00 PM

Former killer whale trainer, John Hargrove, explains why he left the business in his new book, 'Beneath The Surface.' Two SeaWorld executives defend their practices.

Best Of: A Writer Reflects On Prison Time & Music From Norman Blake

Saturday, March 21 2015 12:00 AM

Daniel Genis, son of Soviet emigre writer Alexander Genis, served 10 years for armed robbery. The crimes fueled his heroin addiction. He shares stories from life in prison. John Powers reviews 'Seymour: An Introduction' about Seymour Bernstein, who quit a successful concert career at the age of 50 to become a piano teacher. Bluegrass musician Norman Blake has performed for more than 60 years. He was in Johnny Cash's band and played on Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline' album. Now 77, his new album is called 'Wood, Wire and Words.'

Blues And Jazz Historian Samuel Charters & 'Redeployment'

Friday, March 20 2015 08:00 PM

Samuel Charters helped ignite the blues revival of the '50s and '60s. He made field recordings of forgotten and previously undiscovered performers. He also wrote two books. He died Wednesday; he was 85. Phil Klay served in Iraq from January 2007 to February 2008. He recently won a National Book Critics Circle award for his collection of short stories, 'Redeployment.' John Powers reviews 'Seymour: An Introduction,' an inspiring new documentary by the actor Ethan Hawke.

Bluegrass Musician Norman Blake

Thursday, March 19 2015 08:00 PM

Blake has performed for more than 60 years. He was in Johnny Cash's band and played on Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline' album. Now 77, his new album is called 'Wood, Wire and Words.' John Powers reviews 'A Little Life,' a novel by Hanya Yanagihara.

After Prison, 'Apologetic Bandit' Writes About Life Inside

Wednesday, March 18 2015 08:00 PM

Daniel Genis, son of Soviet emigre writer Alexander Genis, served 10 years for armed robbery. The crimes fueled his heroin addiction. "It was so obvious I didn't fit in," he says. Kevin Whitehead says saxophonist Tony Malaby's new quartet brings out his rowdy side.

Writer Explores The Blurry Line Between Fact And Fiction

Tuesday, March 17 2015 08:00 PM

In Dan Torday's 'The Last Flight of Poxl West,' a Jewish refugee tells his heroic World War II story in a best-selling — and partly fabricated — memoir. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz says one company in France is remastering old records in a revolutionary way. TV critic David Bianculli addresses the downside of binge watching.

Former MA Congressman Barney Frank

Monday, March 16 2015 08:00 PM

In his new memoir, Frank describes how early in politics he feared people would "draw inferences" that he was gay if he supported gay rights. But his drive to fight discrimination was stronger. Ken Tucker reviews Brandi Carlile's album 'The Firewatcher's Daughter.'

Best Of: 'Better Call Saul' & Test Kitchen

Saturday, March 14 2015 12:00 AM

Actor Jonathan Banks and writer/co-creator Peter Gould discuss 'Better Call Saul,' the prequel spin-off of 'Breaking Bad.' Ken Tucker reviews James McMurtry's album 'Complicated Game,' and America's Test Kitchen shares their tricks for more flavorful vegetarian dishes.

Songwriting Duo Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

Friday, March 13 2015 08:00 PM

Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil have been a team (and husband and wife) for more than 50 years. Terry spoke to them in 2000 when they were portrayed in the Broadway musical 'Beautiful.' Drummer Hal Blaine of 'The Wrecking Crew' was featured on thousands of records and over 40 number one hits. A new documentary tells the story of the Crew's success. David Edelstein reviews the independent horror film 'It Follows.'

Solitude & 'Dirty Old London'

Thursday, March 12 2015 08:00 PM

Fenton Johnson says that while alone, people can "find the richest possible ways of being in the world." He's lived alone for more than 20 years. His Harper's article describes his pursuit in solitude. Maureen Corrigan reviews two memoirs. Historian Lee Jackson talks about the filth of Victorian-era London. Linguist Geoff Nunberg tells us about one Wikipedia editor who has decided to eliminate the phrase "comprised of" from thousands of entries.

'Bettyville' Author & History Of The Hollies

Wednesday, March 11 2015 08:00 PM

Author George Hodgman talks about leaving his home in Manhattan to take care of his 91 year old mother in his hometown, Paris, Missouri. His new memoir is called 'Bettyville.' Also rock historian Ed Ward tells us the story of The Hollies.

America's Test Kitchen On Cooking Vegetarian

Tuesday, March 10 2015 08:00 PM

Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster of America's Test Kitchen share their favorite vegetarian recipes. Also we remember documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.

Better Call Saul: Peter Gould & Jonathan Banks

Monday, March 09 2015 08:00 PM

The new show's co-creator says it became a writer's room joke on 'Breaking Bad' that if something didn't fit it would go on the Saul Goodman show, or what is now AMC's 'Better Call Saul.' Ken Tucker reviews 'Complicated Game' by James McMurtry.

Best Of: Larry David & Chris Offutt

Saturday, March 07 2015 01:00 AM

Fresh Air Weekend: Larry David on his new Broadway play, the creators of the web series 'High Maintenance' and writer Chris Offutt on his father, who wrote over 400 books, mostly pornography.

50th Anniversary Of 'Bloody Sunday'

Friday, March 06 2015 09:00 PM

On March 7, 1965, marchers from Selma, Ala., attempted to cross a bridge to demonstrate in support of voting rights. Selma director Ava DuVernay, John Lewis and civil rights activist J.L. Chestnut reflect on that day.

Larry David

Thursday, March 05 2015 09:00 PM

Larry David of wrote and stars in the Broadway play, 'Fish in the Dark', about rivalries and dysfunction when a family patriarch dies. He says the idea came to his "twisted mind" when his friend's dad passed away. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews Eddie Henderson's album 'Collective Portrait,' and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Buried Giant.'

Kim Gordon Of Sonic Youth & 'High Maintenance'

Wednesday, March 04 2015 09:00 PM

Kim Gordon co-founded Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore. When their marriage broke up in 2011, so did the band. Gordon talks about rebuilding her life, writing her memoir, 'Girl in a Band,' and her new band Body/Head. The Vimeo web series 'High Maintenance' centers on a pot dealer who bikes around Brooklyn delivering to clients. Creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair say they drew on their experiences and friends' generosity to make the show. Ken Tucker reviews Nora Jane Struthers' album 'Wake,' and David Bianculli checks out the Tina Fey's Netflix series 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' and 'American Crime.'

'The End Of College' As We Know It

Tuesday, March 03 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, 'The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere,' Kevin Carey envisions a future in which online education programs solve two of colleges' biggest problems: costs and admissions. Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Welcome to Braggsville,' and we remember 'jazz master' Orrin Keepnews.

Family Secret Revealed In 'My Father, The Pornographer'

Monday, March 02 2015 09:00 PM

Chris Offutt's late father went from running a small insurance agency to writing more than 400 books, mostly pornography. The writer tells Fresh Air his dad believed he would be "extremely famous" for it Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews organist Chris Foreman's album, 'Now Is The Time.'

Best Of: Larry Wilmore & The Quest To Stay Young Forever

Saturday, February 28 2015 01:00 AM

Larry Wilmore, the Daily Show's former "Senior Black Correspondent," talks about his new role as the host of The Nightly Show, which fills the time slot vacated by The Colbert Report. Also we'll talk to Bill Gifford. His new book is 'Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying).' And Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madrigal considers the state of "the Internet of things," with a look at his new wi-fi enabled coffee maker.

Inside The World Series Of Poker

Friday, February 27 2015 08:30 PM

Colson Whitehead's book, 'The Noble Hustle,' now out in paperback, was born of an assignment to write about the World Series of Poker. It's a sharp observational tale of poker: those who play it and how it changed him. Then we remember former Notre Dame President Rev. Theodore Hesburgh. He was an author, theologian and activist. Finally David Edelstein reviews 'Maps to the Stars.'

The Quest To Stay Young Forever

Thursday, February 26 2015 09:00 PM

"Nature knows how to let animals live a very long time," says Bill Gifford, whose latest book is 'Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (Or Die Trying),' a look at the history of anti-aging schemes and current ways people try to live longer. David Bianculli reviews 'Battle Creek.'

The Risk Of Transporting Oil By Train

Wednesday, February 25 2015 09:00 PM

Marcus Stern has spent the past year investigating the practice. Recent accidents in Canada and U.S. show that the rail cars aren't built for carrying so much oil, he says, and tracks are deteriorating. Also Ken Tucker reviews The Mavericks and tech correspondent Alexis Madrigal comments on smart home technology.

Memoirist On Coming To Terms With Brother's Suicide

Tuesday, February 24 2015 09:00 PM

In his new memoir, Philip Connors writes about "living in the shadow of a suicide." Wracked by guilt and haunted by "what ifs," Connors investigated his brother's death and learned a terrible secret.  Critic at-large John Powers reviews 'Foyle's War.'

Ojibwe Writer David Treuer

Monday, February 23 2015 09:00 PM

Native American writer David Treuer talks about his family, his culture and his new novel, Prudence, about an Ojibwe reservation during World War II. Then Mark Woollen explains the process of cutting movie trailers and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli.

Best Of: Richard Price & David Remnick

Saturday, February 21 2015 02:00 AM

Fresh Air Weekend: Novelist Richard Price says that in every precinct there's one cop who just can't let go of a case. "They all reminded me of Ahab ... looking for their whales," he says. Price's latest is called 'The Whites.' Then, David Remnick looks back on tough decisions as 'The New Yorker' turns 90. Remnick, who became editor in 1998, talks about his early days at the magazine and his biggest regret: He says he'd "love to have another crack" at covering Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.