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.

Produced by
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

Last updated: Wednesday, April 01 2015 01:39 AM

Judge Says Raising Money To Be Elected Is 'Tawdry'

Tuesday, March 31 2015 08:00 PM

Mixing judges with campaign contributions can lead to conflicts of interest. Fresh Air talks to retired Judge Sue Bell Cobb and the Center for American Progress' Billy Corriher. Rock historian Ed Ward tells the story of Captain Beefheart.

How We Became 'One Nation Under God'

Monday, March 30 2015 08:00 PM

Kevin Kruse discusses his book, 'One Nation Under God: How Corporate American Invented Christian America.' Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Poetry Notebook,' a book of criticism by Clive James. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews saxophonist Art Pepper's live recordings.

Best Of: Creators of 'Justified' & 'American Crime'

Saturday, March 28 2015 12:00 AM

'Justified' creator Graham Yost talks about finishing up the sixth and final season and staying true to writer Elmore Leonard's vision. Ken Tucker reviews Courtney Barnett's album 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.' 'American Crime' revolves round a murder case and is an examination of race, ethnicity and the criminal justice system. Nearly all the characters are part victim and part aggressor. Creator John Ridley (Screenwriter, 12 Years a Slave) and actor Benito Martinez (The Shield) explain.

Oncologist On The 'Biography Of Cancer'

Friday, March 27 2015 08:00 PM

In 'The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,' Siddhartha Mukherjee chronicled how our understanding of cancer has evolved. Starting Monday, Ken Burns' three-part documentary will air on PBS. Terry Gross talked with Mukherjee in 2010. Film critic David Edelstein reviews Noah Baumbach's new film, 'While We're Young.'

'Justified' Creator Graham Yost

Thursday, March 26 2015 08:00 PM

Graham Yost, creator and showrunner of the FX series 'Justified,' talks about staying true to Elmore Leonard's vision. Ken Tucker reviews Courtney Barnett's album 'Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.'

Jeffrey Toobin On Ted Cruz

Wednesday, March 25 2015 08:00 PM

When Ted Cruz announced his presidency, he said: "It's time to reclaim the constitution." The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin discusses the strict legal philosophy that has shaped Cruz's political agenda. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'American Ghost.'

'American Crime' Creator John Ridley & Actor Benito Martinez

Tuesday, March 24 2015 08:00 PM

The show, revolving around a murder case, is an examination of race, ethnicity and the criminal justice system. Nearly all the characters are part victim and part aggressor. Creator John Ridley (Screenwriter, 12 Years a Slave) and actor Benito Martinez (The Shield) explain. David Bianculli gives us his first impressions of late night's James Corden.

The Debate Over Killer Whales In Marine Parks

Monday, March 23 2015 08:00 PM

Former killer whale trainer, John Hargrove, explains why he left the business in his new book, 'Beneath The Surface.' Two SeaWorld executives defend their practices.

Best Of: A Writer Reflects On Prison Time & Music From Norman Blake

Saturday, March 21 2015 12:00 AM

Daniel Genis, son of Soviet emigre writer Alexander Genis, served 10 years for armed robbery. The crimes fueled his heroin addiction. He shares stories from life in prison. John Powers reviews 'Seymour: An Introduction' about Seymour Bernstein, who quit a successful concert career at the age of 50 to become a piano teacher. Bluegrass musician Norman Blake has performed for more than 60 years. He was in Johnny Cash's band and played on Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline' album. Now 77, his new album is called 'Wood, Wire and Words.'

Blues And Jazz Historian Samuel Charters & 'Redeployment'

Friday, March 20 2015 08:00 PM

Samuel Charters helped ignite the blues revival of the '50s and '60s. He made field recordings of forgotten and previously undiscovered performers. He also wrote two books. He died Wednesday; he was 85. Phil Klay served in Iraq from January 2007 to February 2008. He recently won a National Book Critics Circle award for his collection of short stories, 'Redeployment.' John Powers reviews 'Seymour: An Introduction,' an inspiring new documentary by the actor Ethan Hawke.

Bluegrass Musician Norman Blake

Thursday, March 19 2015 08:00 PM

Blake has performed for more than 60 years. He was in Johnny Cash's band and played on Bob Dylan's 'Nashville Skyline' album. Now 77, his new album is called 'Wood, Wire and Words.' John Powers reviews 'A Little Life,' a novel by Hanya Yanagihara.

After Prison, 'Apologetic Bandit' Writes About Life Inside

Wednesday, March 18 2015 08:00 PM

Daniel Genis, son of Soviet emigre writer Alexander Genis, served 10 years for armed robbery. The crimes fueled his heroin addiction. "It was so obvious I didn't fit in," he says. Kevin Whitehead says saxophonist Tony Malaby's new quartet brings out his rowdy side.

Writer Explores The Blurry Line Between Fact And Fiction

Tuesday, March 17 2015 08:00 PM

In Dan Torday's 'The Last Flight of Poxl West,' a Jewish refugee tells his heroic World War II story in a best-selling — and partly fabricated — memoir. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz says one company in France is remastering old records in a revolutionary way. TV critic David Bianculli addresses the downside of binge watching.

Former MA Congressman Barney Frank

Monday, March 16 2015 08:00 PM

In his new memoir, Frank describes how early in politics he feared people would "draw inferences" that he was gay if he supported gay rights. But his drive to fight discrimination was stronger. Ken Tucker reviews Brandi Carlile's album 'The Firewatcher's Daughter.'

Best Of: 'Better Call Saul' & Test Kitchen

Saturday, March 14 2015 12:00 AM

Actor Jonathan Banks and writer/co-creator Peter Gould discuss 'Better Call Saul,' the prequel spin-off of 'Breaking Bad.' Ken Tucker reviews James McMurtry's album 'Complicated Game,' and America's Test Kitchen shares their tricks for more flavorful vegetarian dishes.

Songwriting Duo Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

Friday, March 13 2015 08:00 PM

Songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil have been a team (and husband and wife) for more than 50 years. Terry spoke to them in 2000 when they were portrayed in the Broadway musical 'Beautiful.' Drummer Hal Blaine of 'The Wrecking Crew' was featured on thousands of records and over 40 number one hits. A new documentary tells the story of the Crew's success. David Edelstein reviews the independent horror film 'It Follows.'

Solitude & 'Dirty Old London'

Thursday, March 12 2015 08:00 PM

Fenton Johnson says that while alone, people can "find the richest possible ways of being in the world." He's lived alone for more than 20 years. His Harper's article describes his pursuit in solitude. Maureen Corrigan reviews two memoirs. Historian Lee Jackson talks about the filth of Victorian-era London. Linguist Geoff Nunberg tells us about one Wikipedia editor who has decided to eliminate the phrase "comprised of" from thousands of entries.

'Bettyville' Author & History Of The Hollies

Wednesday, March 11 2015 08:00 PM

Author George Hodgman talks about leaving his home in Manhattan to take care of his 91 year old mother in his hometown, Paris, Missouri. His new memoir is called 'Bettyville.' Also rock historian Ed Ward tells us the story of The Hollies.

America's Test Kitchen On Cooking Vegetarian

Tuesday, March 10 2015 08:00 PM

Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster of America's Test Kitchen share their favorite vegetarian recipes. Also we remember documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles.

Better Call Saul: Peter Gould & Jonathan Banks

Monday, March 09 2015 08:00 PM

The new show's co-creator says it became a writer's room joke on 'Breaking Bad' that if something didn't fit it would go on the Saul Goodman show, or what is now AMC's 'Better Call Saul.' Ken Tucker reviews 'Complicated Game' by James McMurtry.

Best Of: Larry David & Chris Offutt

Saturday, March 07 2015 01:00 AM

Fresh Air Weekend: Larry David on his new Broadway play, the creators of the web series 'High Maintenance' and writer Chris Offutt on his father, who wrote over 400 books, mostly pornography.

50th Anniversary Of 'Bloody Sunday'

Friday, March 06 2015 09:00 PM

On March 7, 1965, marchers from Selma, Ala., attempted to cross a bridge to demonstrate in support of voting rights. Selma director Ava DuVernay, John Lewis and civil rights activist J.L. Chestnut reflect on that day.

Larry David

Thursday, March 05 2015 09:00 PM

Larry David of wrote and stars in the Broadway play, 'Fish in the Dark', about rivalries and dysfunction when a family patriarch dies. He says the idea came to his "twisted mind" when his friend's dad passed away. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews Eddie Henderson's album 'Collective Portrait,' and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Buried Giant.'

Kim Gordon Of Sonic Youth & 'High Maintenance'

Wednesday, March 04 2015 09:00 PM

Kim Gordon co-founded Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore. When their marriage broke up in 2011, so did the band. Gordon talks about rebuilding her life, writing her memoir, 'Girl in a Band,' and her new band Body/Head. The Vimeo web series 'High Maintenance' centers on a pot dealer who bikes around Brooklyn delivering to clients. Creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair say they drew on their experiences and friends' generosity to make the show. Ken Tucker reviews Nora Jane Struthers' album 'Wake,' and David Bianculli checks out the Tina Fey's Netflix series 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' and 'American Crime.'

'The End Of College' As We Know It

Tuesday, March 03 2015 09:00 PM

In his new book, 'The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere,' Kevin Carey envisions a future in which online education programs solve two of colleges' biggest problems: costs and admissions. Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Welcome to Braggsville,' and we remember 'jazz master' Orrin Keepnews.

Family Secret Revealed In 'My Father, The Pornographer'

Monday, March 02 2015 09:00 PM

Chris Offutt's late father went from running a small insurance agency to writing more than 400 books, mostly pornography. The writer tells Fresh Air his dad believed he would be "extremely famous" for it Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews organist Chris Foreman's album, 'Now Is The Time.'

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.