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

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.

Poet Philip Levine & Lesley Gore

Friday, February 20 2015 11:30 PM

Former poet laureate Philip Levine's work often reflected the hardships and dignity of manual labor. He died Feb. 14 in Fresno, Calif. He was 87. In 1991, Levine spoke with Terry Gross about his collection 'What Work Is.'  Then jazz Critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'New Vocabulary' from saxophonist Ornette Coleman. We also remember Lesley Gore, who is known for her Top 40 sensations such as 'You Don't Own Me' and 'It's My Party.'  Her last album was released in 2005, the year she came out as a lesbian. She died Monday at the age of 68. Finally David Edelstein reviews 'Wild Tales.' 

Larry Wilmore

Thursday, February 19 2015 09:00 PM

It has been a year of professional highs and personal lows for Larry Wilmore. He is still fine-tuning 'The Nightly Show,' which fills the late-night spot on Comedy Central vacated by Stephen Colbert. The show launched just as Wilmore's 20-year marriage was coming to an end.

'New Yorker' Editor David Remnick

Wednesday, February 18 2015 09:00 PM

Remnick, who became editor of 'The New Yorker' in 1998, talks about his early days at the magazine and his biggest regret. He says he'd "dearly love to have another crack at" covering the weapons of mass destruction.

Crime Fiction Writer Richard Price

Tuesday, February 17 2015 09:00 PM

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.

The Passing Of The 1964 Civil Rights Act

Monday, February 16 2015 09:00 PM

The act, which turned 50 last year, ended the era of legal segregation in public accommodations, like restaurants and hotels. Author Todd Purdum talks about the battles that surrounded it.  Then rock historian Ed Ward shares a story about a Wisconsin furniture company that began selling blues albums in the '20s. 

Best Of: Lynsey Addario & Michael Keaton

Saturday, February 14 2015 01:00 AM

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario was taken captive in 2011 while covering Libya's civil war. With a gun to her head, she says she was thinking, "Will I ever get my cameras back?"  Also actor Michael Keaton says his 1989 bat suit was downright claustrophobic, but he somehow made it work. In the existential comedy, Keaton plays a washed up, insecure actor looking for a second shot at fame.

David Carr

Friday, February 13 2015 09:00 PM

Fresh Air remembers 'New York Times' media columnist David Carr. David Edelstein reviews 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

'Ida' Director Pawel Pawlikowski

Thursday, February 12 2015 09:00 PM

The film is set in 1962 in Poland where director Pawel Pawlikowski lived until he was 14. Up for an Oscar for best foreign language film, Ida is about identity, faith, guilt and socialism. Then we remember longtime 60 Minutes correspondent, Bob Simon.  Finally, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a reissue by the Schneider Quartet. 

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario

Wednesday, February 11 2015 09:00 PM

Lynsey Addario was taken captive in 2011 while covering the fighting between Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces. With a gun to her head, she says she was thinking, "Will I ever get my cameras back?"

David Axelrod

Tuesday, February 10 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, veteran political consultant David Axelrod tells stories about his years at Obama's side. After one debate, Axelrod says Obama "made clear how he felt about me at that moment, and he bolted." Then David Bianculli reviews the new Canadian sitcom 'Schitt's Creek' and Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty.' 

Michael Keaton

Monday, February 09 2015 09:00 PM

Michael Keaton talks about his Oscar-nominated performance in the film Birdman. He plays a Hollywood actor, once famous for his role as the superhero Birdman, attempting to reinvent himself by directing and starring in a Broadway play.  Not coincidentally, Keaton, like his character, starred in a superhero franchise as Batman.

Bob Odenkirk

Saturday, February 07 2015 01:00 AM

Breaking Bad's fast-talking, sleazeball lawyer Saul Goodman knows how to bend the law, or break it, depending on his clients' needs. Odenkirk tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about playing the AMC drama's most comedic character, and the origins of Saul's comb-over. The prequel spin-off Better Call Saul premieres Sunday February 8th. Then film critic David Edelstein reviews The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

Best Of: Bradley Cooper, 'Better Call Saul' Review

Saturday, February 07 2015 01:00 AM

Bradley Cooper on American Sniper: The film's depiction of the Iraq war has come under scrutiny. Cooper, who portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, says the conversation is moving away from "the fact that 22 vets commit suicide each day." A Review of Better Call Saul: The new AMC show is about public defender Jimmy McGill who adopts a sleazy new persona as Saul Goodman. The show has the same tight plots, rich characters and delicious twists as its parent series. The Science of 'Touch': In his latest book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tellsFresh Air how pain protects, why fingertips are so sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals.

Asali Solomon On Her Novel 'Disgruntled'

Thursday, February 05 2015 07:40 PM

Asali Solomon's novel is about a girl growing up in West Philadelphia whose parents were black nationalists. "My parents taught us to revere Africa — people at school made fun of Africa," she says. Then we remember the late Charlie Sifford, the first black player admitted to the Professional Golfer's Association. Terry spoke to him in 1992.

Reporter Investigates Heroin Addiction And Treatment

Wednesday, February 04 2015 07:18 PM

The Huffington Post's Jason Cherkis investigated the heroin epidemic in Kentucky, and found that the abstinence-based approach used in most treatment centers was leading to many fatal relapses.  Then jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly released live recording of Lennie Tristano's sextet at Chicago's Blue Note Club. Also, David Bianculli reviews the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul on AMC.

Pleasure, Pain And The Science Of 'Touch'

Tuesday, February 03 2015 05:42 PM

In his new book, neuroscientist David Linden explains the science of touch. He tells Fresh Air why pain can protect you, why fingertips are sensitive and why you can't read Braille with your genitals. Then Ken Tucker reviews Bob Dylan's new album, Shadows in the Night, a collection of songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.

Bradley Cooper

Monday, February 02 2015 08:00 PM

 Actor Bradley Cooper discusses his Oscar-nominated film American Sniper. He plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle who is considered to be the most skilled sniper in U.S. military history.  Cooper talks about the controversy surrounding the film, working with director Clint Eastwood, and portraying Joseph Merrick in the Broadway revival of The Elephant Man. 

Best Of: Benedict Cumberbatch & The Teenage Brain

Saturday, January 31 2015 01:00 AM

Fresh Air Weekend:Benedict Cumberbatch gained critical acclaim — and a big following — for his role in Sherlock. Now he's up for an Oscar for his portrayal of eccentric mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.  'American Sniper' is about a Navy SEAL whose service in Iraq made him a mythic figure has become a cultural lightning rod. But the squabbles are too simple for a low-key movie striking in its lack of stridency. Critic at large John Powers comments.  New research shows that teenagers' brains aren't fully insulated, so the signals travel slowly when they need to make decisions. Neuroscientist Frances Jensen, who wrote The Teenage Brain, explains. 

Why Parenting Is "All Joy And No Fun"

Friday, January 30 2015 08:00 PM

 Jennifer Senior writes about how about children change the lives of their parents—for better, and sometimes for worse.  She’s the author of All Joy and No Fun:  The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.  Senior considers the impact of children on marriage, sex, work, friendships, and one’s sense of self.  Her book draws on a wide variety of studies, surveys, social histories and interviews with parents.  Then David Edelstein reviews Timbuktu, one of the five nominees in this year's Academy Award race for Best Foreign Language Film. It centers on the radical Islamist occupation of Mali.  

Religion Scholar On Death, Extremism And Leaving The Seminary

Thursday, January 29 2015 07:00 PM

 Religion scholar Jack Miles edited the first ever Norton Anthology of World Religions. The anthology includes ancient and contemporary interpretations of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. Miles discusses primary texts, extremism and death.  Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Outline by Rachel Cusk, a novel about divorce that pushes back against convention — not so much in its sentiment but in its form. 

The Science Of The Teenage Brain

Wednesday, January 28 2015 03:22 PM

Why do teenagers behave like — teenagers? We get an explanation from neuroscientist Dr. Frances Jensen, who says our brains are still maturing through our 20s and that the front part of the brain is the last to develop. "And what's in the front? Your frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex; these are the areas where we have insight, empathy, impulse control," she says. "Risk-taking behavior is suppressed by activity in your frontal lobes." Her new book is called The Teenage Brain.  Also critic at large John Powers comments on the controversy surrounding American Sniper. He says the film isn't as simple as some people seem to think.

How The Beatles Changed The BBC

Tuesday, January 27 2015 08:53 PM

We talk to Kevin Howlett, the executive producer of The Beatles: On Air Live at the BBC Volume 2. The album is a collection of recordings of the Beatles performing originals, covers, and chatting with BBC hosts in the early '60s.

Crime Reporter Jill Leovy

Monday, January 26 2015 02:53 PM

Veteran crime reporter Jill Leovy talks about the epidemic of unsolved murder cases in African American communities. Leovy, with a unit of LAPD homicide detectives, got to know the families of victims and saw the impact on a community besieged by crime, violence and witness intimidation. Her new book is called Ghettoside.Also book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Almost Famous Women, a collection of short stories about historical women with unruly lives. 

Fresh Air Weekend: Al Michaels, Review Of Sleater-Kinney's New Album, David Morris

Sunday, January 25 2015 02:33 AM

Broadcaster Al Michaels talks about anchoring the Super Bowl; Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews Sleater-Kinney's latest album; Journalist David Morris talks about his book The Evil Hours about PTSD.

Producer Cosimo Matassa Always Believed In New Orleans

Saturday, January 24 2015 02:33 AM

In the '60s, musicians left New Orleans, major labels lost interest, and Motown and Memphis took over the black music charts. But one producer didn't give up.

In The World's 'Sixth Extinction,' Are Humans The Asteroid?

Saturday, January 24 2015 02:33 AM

Scientists think an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. In today's extinction, humans are the culprit. Originally broadcast Feb. 12, 2014.

Tom Varner's Got 'Nine Surprises' And A Big Band Is All Of Them

Friday, January 23 2015 02:33 AM

In 2005, jazz composer and french horn player Tom Varner left New York for Seattle, where he put together a nine-piece band of local players.

Broadcaster Al Michaels Gets Ready To Provide 'Lyrics' For The Super Bowl

Friday, January 23 2015 02:33 AM

Michaels will anchor the Feb. 1 game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. He tells Fresh Air about falling in love with sports and the hardest sport to announce.

Sleater-Kinney Comes Roaring Back With 'No Cities To Love'

Thursday, January 22 2015 02:33 AM

Few bands re-form with their power as intact as Sleater-Kinney have; fewer still brag about their power, and make the claim something more than a brag.

'Leviathan' And 'Red Army' Deliver A Peek Inside Russia, Now And Then

Thursday, January 22 2015 02:33 AM

Leviathan follows a man who fights back after a corrupt mayor uses eminent domain to claim his house, and Red Army recounts the story of the Soviet Union's famous hockey team.

Benedict Cumberbatch On Alan Turing's Awkwardness And Sherlock's Sex Appeal

Thursday, January 22 2015 02:33 AM

The actor gained critical acclaim — and a big following — for his role in Sherlock. Now he's up for an Oscar for his portrayal of eccentric mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.

'The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore' Debuts In Slot Vacated By Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, January 21 2015 02:33 AM

On Monday night, Comedy Central premiered former Daily Show correspondent Larry Wilmore's new show. While Wilmore's sarcastic comments on clips were funny, the round-table discussion didn't sparkle.

In 'The Evil Hours,' A Journalist Shares His Struggle With PTSD

Wednesday, January 21 2015 02:33 AM

While embedded with troops in Iraq, David Morris almost died when a Humvee he was riding in ran over a roadside bomb. His book explores the history and science of post-traumatic stress disorder.

'Gateway To Freedom': Heroes, Danger And Loss On The Underground Railroad

Tuesday, January 20 2015 07:51 PM

While writing his new book, historian Eric Foner relied on a recently discovered record of slaves' escapes. He says the documents paint a "revealing picture" of life on the Underground Railroad.

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Boyhood' Stars, 'Broad City' Co-Creators, A Review Of Ty Segall

Sunday, January 18 2015 02:33 AM

Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke talk about filming Boyhood; Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer discuss their Comedy Central show; Ken Tucker reviews Segall's new album.

'Still Alice' Is A Triumph For Julianne Moore, But The Rest Of Film Is Thin

Saturday, January 17 2015 02:33 AM

The movie is based on neuroscientist Lisa Genova's novel about a linguistics professor with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. While Moore is fascinating, the rest of the characters are half-formed.

Skeptic Takes A Tour Of Self-Help's 'Promise Land'

Saturday, January 17 2015 02:33 AM

Despite being the daughter of a child psychologist and self-help author, Jessica Lamb-Shapiro has spent her life recoiling from the self-help industry. She talks about how the industry helped her.

How Orwell's 'Animal Farm' Led A Radical Muslim To Moderation

Friday, January 16 2015 02:33 AM

When Maajid Nawaz was 16 he joined a radical Islamist group. After four years in prison in Egypt, he decided to leave it. "I'm very, very lucky to have been able to get through it," he says.

Fresh Air Remembers National Book Award Winner Robert Stone

Thursday, January 15 2015 02:33 AM

Stone wrote eight novels, including Dog Soldiers, and a memoir. He died Saturday at the age of 77. In 1986 and 2007, Stone talked with Terry Gross about, among other things, writing and his childhood.

In 'Broad City,' Two Women Make Comedy From The 'Muck' Of New York Living

Thursday, January 15 2015 02:33 AM

The Comedy Central show is about single 20-somethings who sit around and make each other laugh. Stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer poke fun at New Yorkers' "sick, masochistic romance" with the city.

'Man Seeking Woman' Examines How It Feels To Be Single, Dating And Rejected

Wednesday, January 14 2015 02:33 AM

The new comedy series on FXX is a cross between an early Woody Allen comedy and a very edgy late-night comedy sketch. It's part literal, part impressionistic — even surrealist — and very different.

The Magic Of The 'Boyhood' Experiment: Time And Patience

Wednesday, January 14 2015 02:33 AM

If the story fell apart after 12 years of filming, it would have been a "real drag," says Patricia Arquette, and a "colossal waste of time," says Ethan Hawke. Instead, it won three Golden Globes.

Ty Segall Goes 3-D On 'Mr. Face'

Tuesday, January 13 2015 02:33 AM

Ty Segall's new EP comes on two 7-inch discs that double as a pair of 3-D glasses.