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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

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.

How Yoga Came To America

Monday, June 01 2015 09:00 PM

In her new book, 'Goddess Pose,' Michelle Goldberg traces the Western practice of yoga to a Russian woman named Indra Devi. Goldberg says that many of the poses in modern yoga can't be traced beyond 150 years ago. Tech contributor Alexis Madrigal considers the Apple Watch.

Best Of: David Oyelowo & Cannes

Saturday, May 30 2015 01:00 AM

The British-born Nigerian actor talks about playing an American veteran in 'Nightingale,' the reasons he stays in character for weeks at a time and his aversion to playing "the black best friend." Critic John Powers returns from the Cannes Film Festival to talk about this year's new international films. Top among his picks is 'The Assassin,' a martial arts film by director Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Actor Chris O'Dowd

Friday, May 29 2015 09:00 PM

The Irish actor appeared in the film 'Bridesmaids' and the TV series 'Girls.' The third season of O'Dowd's British comedy series 'Moone Boy' was recently released on Hulu. Originally broadcast May 29, 2014. Ken Tucker reviews the second album from Joanna Gruesome and David Bianculli discusses the future of DVD box sets.

Actor David Oyelowo

Thursday, May 28 2015 09:00 PM

The British-born Nigerian actor talks about playing an American veteran in 'Nightingale,' the reasons he stays in character for weeks at a time and his aversion to playing "the black best friend."

Best And Worst Of Cannes / Maria Bello

Wednesday, May 27 2015 09:00 PM

Critic John Powers returns from the Cannes Film Festival to talk about this year's new international films. Top among his picks is 'The Assassin,' a martial arts film by director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. In her memoir 'Whatever ... Love is Love,' Bello describes the evolution of her "modern family," which includes her romantic partner (a woman), her adolescent son and her son's father.

Life, Death & Brain Surgery

Tuesday, May 26 2015 09:00 PM

In his memoir 'Do No Harm,' Henry Marsh confesses to the uncertainties he's dealt with as a surgeon, revisits his triumphs and failures and reflects on the enigmas of the brain and consciousness. Lloyd Schwartz has an appreciation of the 'Decca Sound.'

Composer Philip Glass

Monday, May 25 2015 09:00 PM

For Philip Glass, life is how the past and the future connect. Glass' memoir, 'Words Without Music,' looks back on his childhood, travels and music. Originally broadcast April 6, 2015.

Best Of: Marc Maron Interviews Terry Gross / Letterman's Executive Producer

Saturday, May 23 2015 01:00 AM

The WTF host asks the Fresh Air host about her childhood, her start in radio and her record-strewn apartment. Gross says Maron's "no bulls***" style made her feel comfortable opening up. Rob Burnett started working with David Letterman as an intern in 1985. He talks with Terry Gross about the absurd and somber moments of his three-decade tenure with the 'Late Show.'

How 'Gatsby' Went From A Flop To A Great American Novel

Friday, May 22 2015 09:00 PM

In 'So We Read On' Maureen Corrigan looks at the story behind 'The Great Gatsby,' from F. Scott Fitzgerald's life to the era in which it's set. David Edelstein reviews 'Tomorrowland.'

Letterman's Executive Producer Rob Burnett

Thursday, May 21 2015 09:00 PM

Rob Burnett, the executive producer of 'The Late Show,' started working with David Letterman as an intern in 1985. He talks with Terry Gross about the absurd and somber moments of his 29-year tenure.

Marc Maron Interviews Terry Gross

Wednesday, May 20 2015 09:00 PM

The 'WTF' host asks the 'Fresh Air' host about her childhood, her start in radio and her record-strewn apartment. Gross says Maron's "no bulls***" style made her feel comfortable opening up.

Reporter's Discovery Of Untested Rape Kits Leads To New Law

Tuesday, May 19 2015 09:00 PM

While researching sexual assaults for Cleveland's 'The Plain Dealer,' reporter Rachel Dissell unearthed a backlog of untested rape kits dating back to 1993. Ohio has since mandated the testing of these kits. Actress Elizabeth Banks talks about her directorial debut with 'Pitch Perfect 2' and growing up as a musical theater nerd.

Robots Are Coming For Your Job

Monday, May 18 2015 09:00 PM

The machines have long been used in manufacturing, but Martin Ford, author of 'Rise of the Robots,' says they're now poised to replace humans as teachers, lawyers and even journalists. Kevin Whitehead reviews 'Take Off,' a new album from Cuban Jazz trio Ramon Valle. David Bianculli reviews the series finale of 'Mad Men.'

Best Of: Tom Brokaw & The Future of Space Travel

Saturday, May 16 2015 01:00 AM

Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw says his multiple myeloma diagnosis two years ago made him "more conscious of the fact that the days are more numbered." His new memoir is 'A Lucky Life Interrupted.' Fresh Air film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Good Kill' starring Ethan Hawke and January Jones. Astronomer Chris Impey discusses the future of space travel, sex in space and the connection between science and Buddhism.

B.B. King

Friday, May 15 2015 09:00 PM

Fresh Air remembers legendary blues guitarist B.B. King who died Thursday at 89. "I developed in my head that I'm never any better than my last concert or the last time I played." Terry Gross spoke to him in 1996. David Edelstein reviews 'Mad Max.'

How Our Government Created 'Ghettos'

Thursday, May 14 2015 09:00 PM

Historian Richard Rothstein studies residential segregation in America. His conclusion: "federal, state and local governments purposely created racial boundaries in these cities." Ken Tucker reviews Chris Stapleton's debut solo album 'Traveller.'

NBC Anchorman Tom Brokaw

Wednesday, May 13 2015 09:00 PM

By his own admission, the former NBC anchorman has lived a charmed life. But two years ago, Brokaw's fortune turned when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. His memoir is 'A Lucky Life Interrupted.' Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead discusses a rare jazz single that landed on the pop charts and Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Burning Down George Orwell's House' by Andrew Ervin.

Photographer Sally Mann

Tuesday, May 12 2015 09:00 PM

Sally Mann is fascinated by bodies. She has published pictures that show her young children naked, her husband's muscular dystrophy and dead bodies decomposing. Mann reflects on her life and work in the memoir 'Hold Still.'

Our Future In Space

Monday, May 11 2015 09:00 PM

Astronomer Chris Impey discusses the future of space travel, sex in space and the connection between science and Buddhism. Impey is the author of 'Beyond: Our Future in Space.' John Powers reviews the restored theatrical release of 'The Apu Trilogy' by Indian director Satyajit Ray.

Best Of: Matthew Weiner & Mike Matheny

Saturday, May 09 2015 01:00 AM

With just two episodes to go until the AMC series 'Mad Men' wraps for good, the show creator talks about everything Don Draper has lost — and what the show is all about. Critic at-large John Powers reviews a reissue of late crime writer Ted Lewis' final novel, 'GBH.' Former MLB catcher Mike Matheny talks about his playing career, managing the St. Louis Cardinals, and youth sports.

R&B Singer Ben E. King & Mystery Novelist Ruth Rendell

Friday, May 08 2015 09:00 PM

Ben E. King sang lead for the Drifters and became famous for the classic hit "Stand By Me." King died April 30th. Fresh Air remembers him with this 1988 interview. Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares a remembrance of mystery novelist Ruth Rendell along with an excerpt of her 1989 interview. David Edelstein reviews the new zombie film 'Maggie' starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner

Thursday, May 07 2015 09:00 PM

With just two episodes to go until the AMC series 'Mad Men' wraps for good, the show creator talks about everything his main character has lost — and what the show is all about. Critic at-large John Powers reviews a reissue of late crime writer Ted Lewis' final novel, 'GBH.'

Showrunners Of 'The Good Wife' & 'The Walking Dead'

Wednesday, May 06 2015 09:00 PM

'The Good Wife' writers and creators Michelle and Robert King talk about why they chose law as the backdrop to their show and the benefits of being on network TV versus cable. Kevin Whitehead reviews Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto's new album 'Triangles and Circles.' Then 'Walking Dead' showrunner Scott M. Gimple tells us how the gory zombie sound effects are made and and why he thinks the show is so successful.