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

The Strange World — And Life — Of 'Mr. Turner'

Saturday, December 20 2014 08:15 AM

The biopic of landscape painter J. M. W. Turner depicts a man whose mind is barely engaged by anything other than his work. He's a mystery, and his art is magically indefinite — just like the movie.

J.K. Simmons On Playing A Neo-Nazi On HBO's 'Oz'

Saturday, December 20 2014 08:15 AM

Simmons was a regular on the HBO drama, which depicts the brutality of life in a maximum security prison. He spoke to Terry Gross in 1998.

Meryl Streep: The Fresh Air Interview

Saturday, December 20 2014 08:14 AM

Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She talks about preparing for that role and how her perceptions of herself have changed over the years.

A Tribute To Stephen Colbert, A Self-Proclaimed 'Junkie For Exhaustion'

Friday, December 19 2014 02:33 AM

Ahead of The Colbert Report's last episode, Fresh Air listens back to interviews with Colbert. "I didn't realize quite how liberal I was until I was asked to make passionate comedic choices," he said.

D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Collapses Years, Genres

Thursday, December 18 2014 02:40 AM

Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for.

Between World Wars, Gay Culture Flourished In Berlin

Thursday, December 18 2014 02:39 AM

In Gay Berlin, Robert Beachy describes the rise of a gay subculture in the 1920s and '30s, how it contributed to our understanding of gay identity and how it was eradicated by the Nazis.

Ken Tucker's Top 9 Albums Of 2014, Plus A Book

Wednesday, December 17 2014 02:35 AM

Making new sounds while staying mindful of the past is a common theme in the Fresh Air music critic's year-end list.

Early On, Comedian John Cleese Says, He Had Good Timing But Little Else

Wednesday, December 17 2014 02:35 AM

The co-founder of the Monty Python troupe admits he wasn't "naturally gifted" at physical comedy, and learned a lot by imitation. His new memoir, So, Anyway..., covers his boyhood and early career.

Sometimes You Can't Pick Just 10: Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2014

Tuesday, December 16 2014 02:33 AM

This year, Fresh Air's book critic rejects the tyranny of the decimal system and picks 12 titles published in 2014 — all with characters, scenes and voices that linger long past the last page.

Timothy Spall Takes On Painter J.M.W. Turner, A 'Master Of The Sublime'

Tuesday, December 16 2014 02:33 AM

The 19th century painter wasn't always "very pleasant" and he was a "man of massive contradictions," Spall says. So Spall says he had to "dig deep" to play the title role in Mr. Turner.

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Rock, Nunberg's Word Of The Year, Jacqueline Woodson

Sunday, December 14 2014 02:33 AM

Chris Rock talks about finding the line between funny and "too far"; Geoff Nunberg declares "God view" as the word of the year; National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson talks about her memoir.

Depicting An Unstable Era, 'Inherent Vice' Never Jells, But It's Addictive

Saturday, December 13 2014 02:33 AM

The film, based on Thomas Pynchon's novel, is set in 1970 in a beach town south of Los Angeles. With wonderful actors, it's like a gorgeous stoner art object: groovy, campy, dreamlike and funny.

Funny, Dirty, Sad: The 'Holy Trinity' For 'Transparent' Creator Jill Soloway

Saturday, December 13 2014 02:33 AM

When writer Jill Soloway's father came out as a trans woman, Soloway says, it was a huge relief. And it helped her create the series Transparent about "boundaries, legacy, gender, family."

Filmed Over 12 Years, 'Boyhood' Follows A Kid's Coming Of Age

Saturday, December 13 2014 02:33 AM

Writer-director Richard Linklater says picking the film's star was vital because he had to guess what he'd be like at 18. "I just went with a kid who seemed kind of the most interesting."

Three Jazz Box Sets For Stocking Stuffers

Friday, December 12 2014 02:33 AM

Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews three box sets featuring memorable pianists.

Richard Pryor, A Comedy Pioneer Who Was 'Always Whittling On Dynamite'

Friday, December 12 2014 02:33 AM

Scott Saul's new book, Becoming Richard Pryor, describes how Pryor went from being raised by a grandmother, who was a bootlegger and madam, to being a transformative figure in entertainment.

Feeling Watched? 'God View' Is Geoff Nunberg's Word Of The Year

Thursday, December 11 2014 02:33 AM

Uber's "God view" shows a map of the cars in an area and the silhouettes of the people who ordered them. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says Uber-Santa doesn't just know when you've been sleeping, but where.

Jacqueline Woodson On Growing Up, Coming Out And Saying Hi To Strangers

Thursday, December 11 2014 02:33 AM

Woodson won the National Book Award for young people's literature for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She says that growing up in South Carolina, she knew that the safest place was with her family.

Reporter In Kabul Wins Award For Courage In Journalism

Wednesday, December 10 2014 02:34 AM

Rolling Stone's Matthieu Aikins reported on this year's opium harvest — the biggest in Afghanistan's history. He also talks about traveling with a rescue crew in Syria and a Shia militia in Iraq.

Spanish Artist Francisco Goya On Display In Boston: An Extraordinary Exhibit

Tuesday, December 09 2014 02:33 AM

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has assembled one of the largest exhibits of Goya's artwork ever seen in the U.S. His paintings, prints and drawings range in technique from exquisitely refined to raw.

Steve Lacy's Monk Quartet, Solo Sax Albums Reissues

Tuesday, December 09 2014 02:33 AM

Lacy ran with Monk's wisdom, beginning with the idea your voice as jazz composer starts with your sound and timing as an improviser.

Chris Rock On Finding The Line Between Funny And 'Too Far'

Tuesday, December 09 2014 02:33 AM

"No comedian wants to have to analyze and defend" jokes, says Rock, who wrote, directed and stars in the new film Top Five. He adds: "I'm not a politician; I'm not a thinker. I'm a comedian."

Fresh Air Weekend: Ray Davies, Books For Jazz Lovers And Josh Brolin

Sunday, December 07 2014 02:33 AM

Ray Davies discusses 50 years with The Kinks; jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews three jazz books out this holiday season; Josh Brolin, who stars in Inherent Vice, still wonders if he's good enough.

Prayers And Holy Water Can't Exorcise The Terrifying 'Babadook'

Saturday, December 06 2014 02:33 AM

In the Australian chiller, a bogeyman announces himself in a rhyming, pop-up book on a 7-year-old's shelf. But the real horror is that the boy's mom, a grieving widow, is battling psychic demons.

A Punk Memoir That Makes The Ordinary Seem Transcendent

Saturday, December 06 2014 02:33 AM

Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says that one of the best books he's ever read about punk rock is a new memoir by Viv Albertine.

Fresh Air Remembers British Rock Keyboardist Ian McLagan

Saturday, December 06 2014 02:33 AM

McLagan, who died at 69, helped define the sound of '60s British rock with his bands Small Faces and Faces. He toured with the Rolling Stones, Dylan and Billy Bragg. He appeared on Fresh Air in 2004.

Set In Appalachia, This Rewarding Story Collection Is 'Rich And Strange'

Friday, December 05 2014 02:31 AM

Ron Rash's best short stories from the past 20 years take you to a land apart psychologically and geographically. His writing is powerful, stripped down and very still.

After Decades Acting, Josh Brolin Still Wonders If He's 'Good Enough'

Friday, December 05 2014 02:31 AM

Brolin co-stars in an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's novel Inherent Vice. He says as an actor he's always wondering: "Can I live up to what this person has written? There's always a fear around that."

Three Books For The Jazz Lover On Your List

Thursday, December 04 2014 02:33 AM

Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a singer's biography, a pianist's autobiography, and a fat coffee table book.

President Obama And The Courts: A Shift In Balance

Thursday, December 04 2014 02:33 AM

Journalist Jeffrey Toobin notes how Obama's appointees are a new mix of ethnic minorities, women and gay judges. But a couple of these courts are hearing suits that could undo some of Obama's actions.

Peter Pan's Magic Is In The Pixie Dust

Wednesday, December 03 2014 02:32 AM

NBC is airing a live version of Peter Pan on Thursday, nearly 60 years after the first live telecast. Critic David Bianculli says the cast and the revival of the medium are genius.

How Girls Are Developing Earlier In An Age Of 'New Puberty'

Wednesday, December 03 2014 02:31 AM

Two doctors wrote a book that probes the environmental, biological and socioeconomic factors contributing to early puberty. These girls face risks like anxiety and depression, one author says.

P.D. James Believed Mysteries Were Made Of Clues, Not Coincidences

Tuesday, December 02 2014 02:33 AM

The best-selling author died Thursday. She was 94. In 1987, James told Terry Gross that while the "shock of finding the bodies is important" in her novels, she personally doesn't like "messy lives."

Historian Illustrates Racial Intolerance In The Northeast In Post-War U.S.

Tuesday, December 02 2014 02:33 AM

In his new book All Eyes Are Upon Us, Jason Sokol writes about how Northerners were blind to patterns of segregation, discrimination and racial violence in such states as New York and Massachusetts.

Fresh Air Weekend: A Bob Hope Bio, Christmas Albums And An Accordionist

Sunday, November 30 2014 02:33 AM

Richard Zoglin talks about Hope's life and legacy; rock critic Ken Tucker recommends holiday listening; and Will Holshouser plays songs from his new album.

How The Four Seasons Clashed, Dealt With The Mob And Made Lasting Hits

Saturday, November 29 2014 02:33 AM

Bob Gaudio wrote most of The Four Seasons' hits, some of which are compiled in a new anthology. He tells Fresh Air about the band's history, including why its songs had some "anger" in them.

Naive, Yet Revolutionary: Ray Davies On 50 Years Of The Kinks

Thursday, November 27 2014 02:33 AM

"I think if I had been an accomplished songwriter I wouldn't have written 'You Really Got Me,' " Davies tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Four Holiday Goodies, Including 'Christmas At Downton Abbey'

Wednesday, November 26 2014 02:30 AM

It's not too early to be releasing Christmas albums, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker has been listening to a lot of them.

Benedict Cumberbatch Lifts Above Biopic Formula In 'Imitation Game'

Wednesday, November 26 2014 02:30 AM

Cumberbatch stars as British mathematician and World War II code breaker Alan Turing in a film directed by Morten Tyldum and co-staring Keira Knightley as Turing's comrade in arms.

In 'Redeployment,' Former Marine Explores The Challenges Of Coming Home

Wednesday, November 26 2014 02:30 AM

Phil Klay served in Iraq from January 2007 to February 2008. He recently won a National Book Award for his collection of short stories.