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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

A Hollywood Animal Trainer's Secrets For Getting Dogs To Act

Wednesday, July 29 2015 09:00 PM

Animal trainer Teresa Ann Miller is used to working with furry performers, but she says the Hungarian film 'White God' was especially challenging. "This wasn't necessarily a film with an animal in it," Miller tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It was a dog leading the film and telling the story." Ken Tucker reviews Ashley Monroe's album 'Blade.'

The Strange New Science Of The Self

Tuesday, July 28 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, 'The Man Who Wasn't There,' Anil Ananthaswamy examines the ways people think of themselves — and how those perceptions can be distorted by certain brain conditions. For instance, a patient with Cotard's Syndrome is utterly convinced that they are already dead, and a patient with Body Integrity Identity Disorder perceives that a body part is not their own. Also, rock historian Ed Ward shares blues musician Slim Harpo's story.

Comics Bobcat Goldthwait & Barry Crimmins

Monday, July 27 2015 09:00 PM

Barry Crimmins mentored Bobcat Goldthwait when they were up-and-coming comics in the '80s. 'Call Me Lucky,' directed by Goldthwait, details their relationship — and the sexual abuse Crimmins suffered as a child. Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissue from jazz flutist Sam Most.

Best Of: Jake Gyllenhaal / 'Tangerine' Filmmakers

Saturday, July 25 2015 01:00 AM

In 'Southpaw,' Gyllenhaal plays a boxer who grew up in foster care and is struggling to be a father to his daughter. He also discusses his roles in 'Donnie Darko,' 'Nightcrawler,' and working with Heath Ledger. Director Sean Baker wanted to make a film about L.A.'s transgender sex workers, but first he needed to find someone who knew that world well. Then he met Mya Taylor, and together they made 'Tangerine.'

E.L. Doctorow & Broadcast Pioneer Marlene Sanders

Friday, July 24 2015 09:00 PM

We remember historical fiction author E. L. Doctorow and broadcast news pioneer Marlene Sanders, who was the first woman to anchor a network TV evening newscast. Also, Lloyd Schwartz discusses the timeless appeal of the late choreographer George Balanchine. Film critic David Edelstein reviews 'Phoenix.'

From Upspeak To Vocal Fry: Are We 'Policing' Young Women's Voices?

Thursday, July 23 2015 09:00 PM

Journalist Jessica Grose, linguistics professor Penny Eckert and speech pathologist Susan Sankin discuss upspeak, vocal fry and why women's voices are changing — and whether or not that's a problem. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Among the Ten Thousand Things.'

Jake Gyllenhaal

Wednesday, July 22 2015 09:00 PM

In 'Southpaw,' Gyllenhaal plays a boxer who grew up in foster care and is struggling to be a father to his daughter. He also discusses 'Donnie Darko,' 'Nightcrawler,' and working with Heath Ledger. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a reissue of a Thelonious Monk box set.

'Tangerine' Director Sean Baker & Actress Mya Taylor

Tuesday, July 21 2015 09:00 PM

Director Sean Baker wanted to make a film about L.A.'s transgender sex workers, but first he needed to find someone who knew that world well. Then he met Mya Taylor, and together they made 'Tangerine.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews 'Wildheart' by Miguel.

Sir Ian McKellen

Monday, July 20 2015 09:00 PM

The acclaimed British actor talks about portraying a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes, serving as grand marshal to New York City's gay pride march and his 'Lord of the Rings' tattoo. Rock historian Ed Ward shares soul singer Garnet Mimms' story.

Best Of: Amy Schumer & Judd Apatow / Jason Isbell Reviewed / Ta-Nehisi Coates

Saturday, July 18 2015 01:00 AM

Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow discuss their new romantic comedy, 'Trainwreck,' and highlights from the latest season of 'Inside Amy Schumer.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews Jason Isbell's latest album, 'Something More Than Free.' Growing up in Baltimore, African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates faced threats from both the streets and the police. His book, 'Between the World and Me,' is an open letter to his teenage son.

'The Great Fish Swap'

Friday, July 17 2015 09:00 PM

One-third of the seafood Americans catch is sold abroad, but most of the seafood we eat is imported and often of lower quality. Author Paul Greenberg explains why. Originally broadcast July 1, 2014. David Edelstein reviews 'Trainwreck.'

Amy Schumer & Judd Apatow On 'Trainwreck'

Thursday, July 16 2015 09:00 PM

Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow discuss their new romantic comedy, 'Trainwreck,' and highlights from the latest season of 'Inside Amy Schumer.'

'Cartel' Author On Mexico's Sadistic Drug Wars

Wednesday, July 15 2015 09:00 PM

Novelist Don Winslow spent ten years researching the Mexican drug wars. His new novel, 'The Cartel,' reveals "a new generation of cartel leaders that are more violent, more sadistic" than ever before. He discusses the recent escape of drug lord El Chapo, who serves as inspiration for his main character. Also, linguist Geoff Nunberg contemplates the phrase "tell it like it is," now Chris Christie's campaign slogan.

A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana

Tuesday, July 14 2015 09:00 PM

Dr. David Casarett used to think of medical marijuana as "a joke." Then he began to look into the issue and he changed his mind. Casarett's new book is 'Stoned: A Doctor's Case for Medical Marijuana.' Also, Ken Tucker reviews Jason Isbell's latest album, 'Something More Than Free.'

Ta-Nehisi Coates / New Harper Lee Novel Reviewed

Monday, July 13 2015 09:00 PM

Growing up in Baltimore, African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates faced threats from both the streets and the police. His book, 'Between the World and Me,' is an open letter to his teenage son. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Harper Lee's post-'Mockingbird' book, 'Go Set a Watchman,' which she calls a "troubling confusion of a novel."

Best Of: 3 Films - Amy Winehouse Doc, 'Tangerine' & 'Do I Sound Gay?'

Saturday, July 11 2015 01:00 AM

The new documentary 'Amy' uses personal and archival video to tell the story of her short life. We talk to the film's director Asif Kapadia and Winehouse's former manager Nick Shymansky, who tried to get her into rehab--which later inspired her biggest hit. Fresh Air Weekend critic Justin Chang reviews 'Tangerine.' Also, David Thorpe searches for the origin of the so-called "gay voice" in his new film 'Do I Sound Gay?'

The Secret History Of Wonder Woman

Friday, July 10 2015 09:00 PM

Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, was inspired by suffragists and centerfolds. Political historian Jill Lepore explains how the comic book hero came to be in 'The Secret History of Wonder Woman.' Duke Ellington recorded two tunes engineered by Conny Plank, a few years before Plank became known for recording rock musicians like Brian Eno. That session is now on CD; jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says it's a window onto Ellington's working method.

The Long Road To Marriage Equality

Thursday, July 09 2015 09:00 PM

For 25 years, attorney Mary Bonauto and activist Evan Wolfson helped shape the gay marriage movement. They discuss the recent Supreme Court ruling, which represented the culmination of their efforts. Also, David Edelstein reviews 'Tangerine.'

Amy Winehouse Documentary Rescues Her Story From The Tabloids

Wednesday, July 08 2015 09:00 PM

The new documentary 'Amy' uses personal and archival video to tell the story of her short life. Winehouse died at 27. We talk to the film's director Asif Kapadia and Winehouse's former manager Nick Shymansky, who tried to get her into rehab--which later inspired her biggest hit.

Documentarian Asks, 'Do I Sound Gay?'

Tuesday, July 07 2015 09:00 PM

In his new movie, 'Do I Sound Gay?', director David Thorpe searches for the origin of the so-called "gay voice" and documents his own attempts (with speech pathologist Susan Sankin) to sound "less gay." Also John Powers reviews a documentary and a novel about the drug war in Mexico.

The New Science Of Criminal Injustice

Monday, July 06 2015 09:00 PM

"Good people with the best of intentions ... can get things terribly, terribly wrong," says legal scholar Adam Benforado. His book, 'Unfair,' explores the intrinsic flaws of the American justice system — flaws that can lead to false confessions and wrongful convictions. Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares four thrillers that will get your heart pounding. Ken Tucker reviews Kacey Musgraves' album 'Pageant Material.'

Best Of: 'Loving Day' Author Mat Johnson / 'Dope' Director Rick Famuyiwa

Saturday, July 04 2015 01:00 AM

As a biracial child growing up in Philadelphia, writer Mat Johnson identified as black – but looked white. His new novel 'Loving Day' is about a man who returns to his hometown after inheriting a run-down mansion. Also TV critic David Bianculli says Jon Stewart, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver and Bill Maher are keeping news outlets honest. Rick Famuyiwa's new film 'Dope' is about a black high-school student who's into 90s hip hop and Japanese comic books. He calls the film a celebration of kids whose interests don't fit into pop-culture norms. The director talks about geekdom, the n-word, and confronting racism with comedy.

'Inside Out' Director / Pokey LaFarge

Friday, July 03 2015 09:00 PM

The new Pixar film 'Inside Out' illustrates the inner workings of an 11-year-old's mind. Her emotions — Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Joy — are the stars. Director Pete Docter joins us. Also, singer-songwriter Pokey LaFarge brings his guitar to the studio and plays new songs from 'Something in the Water' and some favorites from the 1920s and '30s.

SCOTUS Reporter On The Most Liberal & Snarky Term In Recent History

Thursday, July 02 2015 09:00 PM

Adam Liptak of The New York Times discusses the Supreme Court's most recent term and says the rulings reveal deep philosophical differences regarding the role of judges and the Constitution. Also David Edelstein reviews 'Magic Mike XXL' and 'Terminator Genesys.'

'Dope' Director Rick Famuyiwa

Wednesday, July 01 2015 09:00 PM

Rick Famuyiwa's new film 'Dope' is about a black high-school student who's into 90s hip hop and Japanese comic books. He calls the film a celebration of kids whose interests don't fit into pop-culture norms. The director talks about geekdom, the n-word, and confronting racism with comedy. Also David Bianculli says Jon Stewart, Larry Wilmore, John Oliver and Bill Maher are keeping news outlets honest.

Author Vendela Vida / Dobro Master Jerry Douglas

Tuesday, June 30 2015 09:00 PM

The main character in Vendela Vida's new novel is alone in Morocco when her bag with her passport and credit cards is stolen. Vida says 'The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty' was inspired by her own travels. Also, Jerry Douglas is considered by many to be the best dobro player in the world. He brings his instrument to the studio and talks about his new album, 'The Earls of Leceister,' a tribute to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

Writer Mat Johnson On Being Biracial In America

Monday, June 29 2015 09:00 PM

As a biracial child growing up in Philadelphia, writer Mat Johnson identified as black – but looked white. His new novel 'Loving Day' is about a man who returns to his hometown after inheriting a run-down mansion. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the new album from trumpeter Terell Stafford.

Best Of: Inside The World Of Art Forgery / Marc Maron On Interviewing Obama

Saturday, June 27 2015 01:00 AM

Comedian Marc Maron debriefs after interviewing President Obama for his podcast, 'WTF.' Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Patience And Fortitude' about the fight to save NYC's storied public library. Art scholar Noah Charney discusses his new book, 'The Art of Forgery,' where he traces a tradition of fakes and forgeries that dates back to the Renaissance.

How Scientists Battled The Typhus Epidemic And Sabotaged The Nazis

Friday, June 26 2015 09:00 PM

Writer Arthur Allen describes how a WWII scientist in Poland smuggled the typhus vaccine to Jews — while his team made a weakened version for the Nazis. Also, we remember country musician Johnny Gimble, the "king of swing fiddle." He passed away last month at 88.

How A Historical Blunder Helped Create The Water Crisis In The West

Thursday, June 25 2015 09:00 PM

In 1922, seven states drew up a plan for dividing the waters of the Colorado River. But they over-estimated how much water the river could provide — and now 40 million Americans face a water crisis. Investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten joins us. Ken Tucker reviews Leon Bridges' album 'Coming Home.'

A Former L.A. Gang Member On 'Project Fatherhood'

Wednesday, June 24 2015 09:00 PM

Former L.A. gang member Mike Cummings and professor Jorja Leap are working with other former gang members to help them become better fathers. Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Patience And Fortitude' about the fight to save the New York Public Library.

The Art Of Forgery / Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Tuesday, June 23 2015 09:00 PM

Art scholar Noah Charney describes the art world as "fertile ground for criminals." He traces a tradition of fakes and forgeries that dates back to the Renaissance in his new book,'The Art of Forgery.' Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's film 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl' won the audience award and the grand jury prize at Sundance. He talks about how losing his dad shaped his approach to the film. John Powers reviews Kamel Daoud's novel 'The Meursault Investigation.'

Marc Maron On Interviewing President Obama

Monday, June 22 2015 09:00 PM

The 'WTF' podcast host and comedian shares his experience interviewing the President in his garage. We remember composer Gunther Schuller with his 1988 interview.

Best Of: Judd Apatow / 'Inside Out' Reviewed / Comedian Kumail Nanjiani

Saturday, June 20 2015 01:00 AM

Screenwriter and director Judd Apatow talks about the interviews he recorded for his high school radio station with comics including Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. Those interviews are collected in Apatow's new book. Also comedian Kumail Nanjiani from HBO's Silicon Valley. And a review of the new Disney/Pixar film "Inside Out."

'Brown Girl Dreaming' Author on Growing Up in the Segregated South and Brooklyn

Friday, June 19 2015 09:00 PM

This month, Jacqueline Woodson was named the new "Young People's Poet Laureate" by the Poetry Foundation. Her memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming won a National Book Award last year. Also, film critic David Edelstein reviews Inside Out, the new Disney / Pixar animated film directed by Pete Doctor.

Biopic About The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson

Thursday, June 18 2015 09:00 PM

Terry Gross interviews Oren Moverman, the screenwriter of the Brian Wilson biopic "Love and Mercy." Also, we'll hear an excerpt of Terry's 1988 interview with Wilson.

Judd Apatow

Wednesday, June 17 2015 09:00 PM

When Judd Apatow was a teen he landed interviews with an impressive roster of comics for his high school radio show. 'Sick in the Head' is a collection of those conversations, and more recent ones as well. TV critic David Bianculli reviews HBO's new Sunday lineup, including the new season of 'True Detective.'

Israeli Writer Etgar Keret

Tuesday, June 16 2015 09:00 PM

Keret's new collection of personal essays, 'The Seven Good Years' spans the time between the birth of his son and the death of his father. He says his father, who was a Holocaust survivor, taught him to "look reality straight in the face."

The 'Tragedy' Of Richard Nixon

Monday, June 15 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, New York Times journalist Tim Weiner paints a portrait of a president overwhelmed by wars at home and abroad, whose self-destructive behavior resulted in "political suicide." Ken Tucker reviews the new album from the California band Dawes and Maureen Corrigan reviews a book of short stories called 'In the Country.'

Best Of: 'Inside Out' Director / Ken Tucker On Shamir

Saturday, June 13 2015 01:00 AM

Pete Docter directed the new Pixar film 'Inside Out' about the inner workings of an 11-year-old's mind. Her emotions — Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Joy — are the stars, voiced by the likes of Amy Poehler and Louis Black. Ken Tucker reviews the debut album from Shamir, 'Ratchet.' In his new book, 'The End of Plenty,' journalist Joel Bourne says humanity is facing a major problem: The world is running out of food. There are promising developments to meet the threat, he says, but time is running out.

Ornette Coleman / Christopher Lee

Friday, June 12 2015 09:00 PM

Jazz innovator Ornette Coleman died Thursday, at the age of 85. We'll listen back to a 1987 conversation with the saxophonist and composer, as well as interviews with members of his quartet, Don Cherry and Charlie Haden. We also remember 'Dracula' actor Christopher Lee with an excerpt of his 1990 interview. Kevin Whitehead reviews a new record by arranger Michael Gibbs and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, and David Edelstein reviews the documentary 'The Wolf Pack.'

NYT Reporter On Scott Walker's Probable Presidential Run

Thursday, June 11 2015 09:00 PM

New York Times reporter Patrick Healy writes that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a product of a loose network of conservative donors, think tanks and talk radio hosts who spent years preparing the road for his likely presidential run. Ken Tucker reviews the debut album from Shamir and linguist Geoff Nunberg contemplates the spelling be

Pixar Director Pete Docter On 'Inside Out' / Comedian Kumail Nanjiani

Wednesday, June 10 2015 09:00 PM

Pete Docter directed the new Pixar film 'Inside Out' about the inner workings of an 11-year-old's mind. Her emotions — Sadness, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Joy — are the stars, voiced by the likes of Amy Poehler and Louis Black. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani explains his conflicted relationship with his hometown of Karachi, Pakistan.

The 'Deadly Legacy' Of India's Partition / Les Paul

Tuesday, June 09 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, 'Midnight's Furies,' Nisid Hajari describes the riots and massacres that ensued after Pakistan was established as a separate state from India, and how those tensions are still playing out. Fresh Air remembers Les Paul's contribution to music with his 1992 interview. He was born 100 years ago today.

The Race To Feed A Crowded World

Monday, June 08 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, 'The End of Plenty,' journalist Joel Bourne says humanity is facing a major problem: The world is running out of food. There are promising developments to meet the threat, he says, but time is running out. Music historian Ed Ward tells the story of soul singer Jackie Moore and Maureen Corrigan reviews 'A Good in Ruins.'

Best Of: Carey Mulligan / Neurosurgeon Henry Marsh

Saturday, June 06 2015 01:00 AM

Carey Mulligan has been nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway revival of 'Skylight.' She also stars in the film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel 'Far From the Madding Crowd.' Tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reviews the Apple Watch, and neurosurgeon Henry Marsh revisits his triumphs and failures and reflects on the enigmas of the brain and consciousness.

Michael Feinstein On 'Gershwins & Me'

Friday, June 05 2015 09:00 PM

Musician Michael Feinstein chronicles his experience working as an archivist and cataloger for legendary songwriter Ira Gershwin. Originally broadcast Oct. 17, 2012.

The Secret Sadness Of Pregnancy With Depression

Thursday, June 04 2015 09:00 PM

Andrew Solomon, the author of 'The Noonday Demon,' discusses the challenges of pregnancy and depression: "Most people who are seeking treatment [for depression] are not getting very good treatment." David Edelstein reviews 'Spy' starring Melissa McCarthy.

Inside The Digital Underworld

Wednesday, June 03 2015 09:00 PM

Jamie Bartlett exposes an encrypted underworld to the Internet in his book 'The Dark Net:' "Anybody with something to hide, whether it's for good reasons or for ill, finds a very natural home there." Milo Miles reviews the new album from Malian bandleader Bassekou Kouyate.

Carey Mulligan / Summer Reading List

Tuesday, June 02 2015 09:00 PM

Carey Mulligan has been nominated for a Tony Award for her role in in the Broadway revival of 'Skylight.' She also stars in the film adaptation of the Thomas Hardy novel 'Far From the Madding Crowd.' Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new album from the Gary Peacock Trio and book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her summer reading list.