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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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Show Archive

Show Staff

  • 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

Oliver Sacks

Monday, August 31 2015 09:00 PM

The neurologist, who died Sunday, saw "infinitely moving, dramatic, romantic situations" during his decades studying the human brain. Fresh Air remembers Sacks with interviews from 1985 and 2012.

Best Of: Alison Bechdel's 'Fun Home' / 'Blackout' Author Sarah Hepola

Saturday, August 29 2015 01:00 AM

The musical and graphic novel 'Fun Home' describe Alison Bechdel's coming out, and her dad's closeted homosexuality. She says, "In many ways ... my professional career has been a reaction to my father's life." 'Fun Home' won five Tonys this year, including the award for best musical. Lyricst Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori join Bechdel in the conversation. Sarah Hepola once got so drunk that she gave a presentation to 300 people — and didn't remember a thing the next day. She wrestles with her reasons for drinking in the memoir 'Blackout.'

Michael Keaton

Friday, August 28 2015 09:00 PM

From 'Batman' to 'Birdman,' Michael Keaton knows suits and superheroes. The actor talks about his Oscar-nominated performance and growing up the youngest of seven kids. [Originally broadcast February 2015] Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the debut album from vocalist Tiffany Austin.

Larry David / Writer Chris Offutt On His Father, The Pornographer

Thursday, August 27 2015 09:00 PM

Writer Chris Offutt's late father went from running a small insurance agency to writing more than 400 books, mostly pornography. Offutt discusses his father's career. Also, Larry David talks about his Broadway show 'Fish in the Dark,' and how his character on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' changed him in real life. [Originally broadcast March 2015]

Adam Driver / Review Of 'Mr.Robot'

Wednesday, August 26 2015 09:00 PM

Actor Adam Driver of 'Girls' stars in Noah Baumbach's 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. [Originally broadcast April 2015] John Powers reviews the the USA series 'Mr.Robot.'

Crime Fiction Writer Richard Price

Tuesday, August 25 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.' [Originally broadcast February 2015] TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Public Morals,' a new police drama set in the '60s.

Toni Morrison

Monday, August 24 2015 09:00 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." [Originally broadcast April 2015] Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews a short story collection called 'A Manual for Cleaning Women.'

Best Of: Larry Wilmore / Lily Tomlin

Saturday, August 22 2015 01:00 AM

Larry Wilmore discusses Bill Cosby, being a "blerd" (black nerd), and the advice Jon Stewart gave him. He hosts his 100th episode of 'The Nightly Show' this week. John Powers reviews the new documentary 'Best of Enemies' about the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal — who hated each other. Actress Lily Tomlin stars in the film 'Grandma' and with Jane Fonda in the Netflix series 'Grace and Frankie.' We discuss her life and work, including her marrying her long, long time partner Jane Wagner a year and a half ago.

One Lawyer's Fight For Young Blacks And 'Just Mercy'

Friday, August 21 2015 09:00 PM

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson represents those who have been abandoned. His clients are people on death row — abused and neglected children who were prosecuted as adults and placed in adult prisons where they were beaten and sexually abused, and mentally disabled people whose illnesses helped land them in prison where their special needs were unmet. "I'm not persuaded that the opposite of poverty is wealth," he says. "I've come to believe ... that the opposite of poverty is justice." David Edelstein reviews mountain climbing documentary 'Meru.'

How Close Are We Really To A Robot-Run Society?

Thursday, August 20 2015 09:00 PM

From self-driving cars to automated warehouses, humans are being pushed out of the equation. Soon, robots will "do a million other things we can't even conceive of," author John Markoff says. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the IFC spoof 'Documentary Now!' and the prequel series 'Fear the Walking Dead.'

Larry Wilmore On Finding His Voice As Host Of 'The Nightly Show'

Wednesday, August 19 2015 09:00 PM

The host discusses Bill Cosby, being a "blerd" (black nerd), and the advice Jon Stewart gave him. He hosts his 100th episode of 'The Nightly Show' this week.

Lily Tomlin / Review of 'Best Of Enemies'

Tuesday, August 18 2015 09:00 PM

Actress Lily Tomlin stars in the film 'Grandma' and with Jane Fonda in the Netflix series 'Grace and Frankie.' We discuss her life and work, including her marrying her long, long time partner Jane Wagner a year and a half ago. John Powers reviews the new documentary 'Best of Enemies' about the 1968 debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal — who hated each other. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the new album by the Maria Schneider Orchestra.

Alison Bechdel & Songwriters On 'Fun Home' Musical

Monday, August 17 2015 09:00 PM

The musical and graphic novel 'Fun Home' describe Bechdel's coming out, and her dad's closeted homosexuality. She says, "In many ways ... my professional career has been a reaction to my father's life." 'Fun Home' won five Tonys this year, including the award for best musical. Lyricst Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori join Bechdel in the conversation.

Best Of: Ivory Smuggling / Review of 'Mistress America'

Saturday, August 15 2015 01:00 AM

Some 30,000 African elephants die each year as a result of poaching. Journalist Bryan Christy wanted to see where their tusks were going, so he created fake tusks and embedded them with GPS trackers. Justin Chang reviews 'Mistress America' starring Greta Gerwig. Graphic artist and professor Phoebe Gloeckner wrote the graphic novel, 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl,' based on her experience losing her virginity to her mother's boyfriend when she was 15. Filmmaker Marielle Heller adapted the story into a new movie.

David Foster Wallace / Jason Segel

Friday, August 14 2015 09:00 PM

The late writer David Foster Wallace spoke to Terry Gross in 1997 when 'Infinite Jest' was published in paperback. He talks about irony, happiness, and why he doesn't have a TV. He is the subject of the new film, 'The End of the Tour,' starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg. Segel was on 'Fresh Air' in 2009. He discusses breakups, bromance, and growing up on 'Freaks and Geeks.' Finally, David Bianculli reviews HBO's miniseries 'Show Me A Hero,' by David Simon, creator of 'The Wire.'

A 'Diary' Unlocked: A Teenage Coming-Of-Age Story Put On Film

Thursday, August 13 2015 09:00 PM

When she was 15, Phoebe Gloeckner lost her virginity to her mother's boyfriend. Gloeckner wrote about the experience in 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl,' which Marielle Heller adapted into a film. We begin with a review of the film from David Edelstein.

GPS Trackers In Elephant Tusks Reveal Ivory Smuggling Route

Wednesday, August 12 2015 09:00 PM

Some 30,000 African elephants die each year as a result of poaching. Journalist Bryan Christy wanted to see where their tusks were going, so he created fake tusks and embedded them with GPS trackers. Also, Ken Tucker reviews Iris DeMent's new album of poetry set to music, 'The Trackless Woods.'

A Century Of Sex Laws / The Obsessive Hunt For Rare 78 RPM Records

Tuesday, August 11 2015 10:00 PM

American sex laws have not always kept pace with society's changing standards. In 'The Boundaries of Desire,' Eric Berkowitz explores how the legal system has addressed sex in the last century. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'A Tour of Bones.' In 'Do Not Sell At Any Price,' Amanda Petrusich details the extreme measures collectors take in pursuit of rare 78rpm records.

The Modern Struggle For Voting Rights In America

Monday, August 10 2015 09:00 PM

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed racial discrimination in voting. But author Ari Berman says a 2013 Supreme Court ruling blocks the act's enforcement — and opened the door for new restrictions.

Best Of: 'Friday Night Lights' Turns 25 / Noir Novel 'Dragonfish'

Saturday, August 08 2015 01:00 AM

Twenty-five years ago, Buzz Bissinger wrote about the big-time stakes of small-town high-school football in 'Friday Night Lights.' Now he talks about the impact the book had on the players and himself. Maureen Corrigan reviews noir novel 'Dragonfish.' In her new book, 'Voices in the Ocean,' Susan Casey describes the life of dolphins and details some new threats the animals face, such as organized dolphin kills and man-made sounds in the ocean.

'Blood Will Out,' A True Story Of Murder And Deception

Friday, August 07 2015 09:00 PM

Author Walter Kirn thought he was befriending an eccentric Rockefeller, but his pal turned out to be an impostor wanted for murder. His book is 'Blood will Out.' [Originally broadcast March 2014]. David Edelstein reviews 'Ricki and the Flash' and David Bianculli comments on last night's farewell to Jon Stewart.

Jon Stewart

Thursday, August 06 2015 09:00 PM

In honor of Jon Stewart's final night as host of 'The Daily Show,' we play excerpts of Stewart's Fresh Air interviews from 2000, 2010 and 2014. In his most recent interview, Stewart contemplates the end of his hosting run: "I don't know that there will ever be anything that I will ever be as well-suited for as this show," he said. We'll also hear from Ben Karlin, former Executive Producer of 'The Daily Show.'

Why It Took Years To Arrest A Former NFL Star For Sexual Assault

Wednesday, August 05 2015 09:00 PM

Former NFL player Darren Sharper pleaded guilty to rape charges involving nine women in four states. ProPublica reporter T. Christian Miller says local police weren't sharing information. Kevin Whitehead reviews jazz trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy's album dedicated to Charles Mingus.

The 'Wild And Haunting' World Of Dolphins

Tuesday, August 04 2015 09:00 PM

In her new book, 'Voices in the Ocean,' Susan Casey describes the life of dolphins and details some new threats the animals face, such as organized dolphin kills and man-made sounds in the ocean. Ken Tucker reviews Daniel Romano's new album and Maureen Corrigan reviews noir novel 'Dragonfish.'

'Friday Night Lights' Turns 25

Monday, August 03 2015 09:00 PM

Twenty-five years ago, Buzz Bissinger wrote about the big-time stakes of small-town high-school football in 'Friday Night Lights.' Now he talks about the impact the book had on the players and himself.

Best Of: Bobcat Goldthwait & Barry Crimmins / Hollywood Animal Trainer

Saturday, August 01 2015 01:00 AM

Barry Crimmins mentored Bobcat Goldthwait when they were up-and-coming comics in the 80's. 'Call Me Lucky,' directed by Goldthwait, details their relationship – and the sexual abuse Crimmins suffered as a child. 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.'

Key & Peele / Jon Stewart in 2004

Friday, July 31 2015 09:00 PM

Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele from the Comedy Central sketch comedy series 'Key & Peele' which will air its final episode in September. Also an archived interview with Jon Stewart of The Daily show. Stewart ends his run as The Daily Show's host next week.

'Blackout' Author Remembers The Things She 'Drank To Forget'

Thursday, July 30 2015 09:00 PM

Sarah Hepola once got so drunk that she gave a presentation to 300 people — and didn't remember a thing the next day. She wrestles with her reasons for drinking in the memoir 'Blackout.' Film critic David Edelstein reviews 'The End of the Tour.'

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.