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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

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.

'Pig Tales' & Factory Farming

Tuesday, May 05 2015 09:00 PM

Barry Estabrook wanted to know more about pigs and their journey from the farm to his plate. In a new book 'Pig Tales,' he explores the dichotomies of the industry that's raising our pork. Maureen Corrigan reviews journalist Asne Seierstad's chronicles of the 2011 shooting massacre in Norway. Her book is called 'One of Us.'

St. Louis Cardinals Manager Talks Big and Little League Baseball

Monday, May 04 2015 09:00 PM

Baseball's Mike Matheny speaks with Fresh Air's Dave Davies about his playing career, managing in the big leagues and the pressures of youth sports. Matheny is the author of 'The Matheny Manifesto.' David Letterman retires this month after 33 years hosting late-night television. TV critic David Bianculli says that Letterman's humor "provided a new blueprint for the TV talk show."

Best Of: Louis CK & Pokey LaFarge

Saturday, May 02 2015 01:00 AM

Comic Louis CK talks about his first open mic night, how parenting changed his comedy, and tripping on acid in 8th grade. John Powers reviews Karl Ove Knausgaard's autobiographical novel, 'My Struggle.' And, to mark the release of Pokey LaFarge's seventh album, the singer-songwriter brings his acoustic guitar to the Fresh Air studio to sing some new songs as well as some of his favorites from the 1920s and '30s.

Timothy Spall On 'Mr. Turner'

Friday, May 01 2015 09:00 PM

Actor Timothy Spall takes on 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner, a "master of the sublime" in 'Mr. Turner.' Spall won best actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Cannes Film Festival for the roll. David Edelstein reviews 'Avengers: Age of Ultron.'

California's Drought And Water Wars

Thursday, April 30 2015 09:00 PM

Journalist Mark Arax discusses the battle for water involving corporate agriculture, suburbs, cities and small farming communities. "It used to be the farmers against the delta smelt fish, and now it's the urbanite against the almond," he says. In honor of Billie Holiday's 100th birthday this month, several artists are releasing out Holiday tribute albums. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead looks at a couple of these by other singers. One he rather likes; the other, not so much.

Cleveland Women On Surviving A Decade In Captivity

Wednesday, April 29 2015 09:00 PM

Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus recount being kidnapped by infamous Cleveland school-bus driver Ariel Castro who held them captive for a decade before their dramatic escape. Their new book, written with journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, is called 'Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.' Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new album from string quartet Brooklyn Rider, and John Powers reviews Karl Ove Knausgaard's autobiographical novel, 'My Struggle.'

Louis CK

Tuesday, April 28 2015 09:00 PM

Comic Louis CK talks about his first open mic night, how parenting changed his comedy, and tripping on acid in 8th grade.

Pokey LaFarge

Monday, April 27 2015 09:00 PM

To mark the release of Pokey LaFarge's seventh album, the singer-songwriter brings his acoustic guitar to the Fresh Air studio to sing some new songs as well as some of his favorites from the 1920s and '30s. Ken Tucker reviews 'Sound & Color' by Alabama Shakes and linguist Geoff Nunberg discusses the buzzword 'disrupt.'

Best Of: Toni Morrison & Will Forte

Saturday, April 25 2015 01:00 AM

Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison discusses her latest book, 'God Help the Child,' about distinguishing color from race. Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Ross Macdonald's crime fiction. Actor Will Forte talks about landing a job on 'Saturday Night Live' and learning from Bruce Dern on the set of 'Nebraska' that acting is "all about commitment."

The 'Secret History' Of Fascism And The Catholic Church

Friday, April 24 2015 09:00 PM

It's commonly thought that the Catholic Church fought heroically against the fascists in Italy. But historian David Kertzer says the church actually lent organizational strength and moral legitimacy to Mussolini's regime. Kertzer recently won a Pulitzer Prize for his book 'The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.' Film critic David Edelstein reviews the Iranian mystery film 'About Elly.'

The Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

Thursday, April 23 2015 09:00 PM

Reporter Gregory Johnsen talks about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and how the chaos is impacting the U.S. fight against al-Qaida. Johnsen describes a country torn apart. "I don't even think it's accurate to speak of Yemen as one country anymore," he says. "I think the country has been definitively and decisively broken in the way that no one will ever be able to put it back together again." Ken Tucker reviews Dwight Yoakam's new album 'Second Hand Heart.'

Met Opera Chorus Master & Will Forte

Wednesday, April 22 2015 09:00 PM

Metropolitan Opera Chorus Master Donald Palumbo talks about what it takes to make 150 voices sound like one. Actor Will Forte talks about his new show 'Last Man On Earth,' and what he learned from Bruce Dern on the set of 'Nebraska.'

Former NYC Cop On 'The Job'

Tuesday, April 21 2015 09:00 PM

Retired New York City police officer Steve Osborne shares stories including chasing a robber into a train tunnel and breaking up a knife fight. "Your heart is pounding; your adrenaline is shooting out of your ears," he says. "And you got one second to get it right." Over his 20 years of duty he never fired his gun. His new memoir is called 'The Job.' Also book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews four crime fiction stories by Ross MacDonald.

Toni Morrison

Monday, April 20 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."

Best Of: Mark Ronson's 'Uptown Funk' & 'House of Cards'

Saturday, April 18 2015 01:00 AM

Terry Gross interviews DJ, musician and record producer Mark Ronson. Ronson's hit song 'Uptown Funk' features vocals by Bruno Mars and spent 14 weeks as Billboard's #1 single. Also Beau Willimon, the creator of the Netflix series 'House of Cards.' And Ken Tucker reviews the new album from the band The Mountain Goats.

'Community's' Joel McHale

Friday, April 17 2015 09:00 PM

Actor Joel McHale, star of the comedy series 'Community.' Last year, NBC cancelled the series after five seasons, but now 'Community' is back, streaming new episodes on Yahoo. Also, film critic David Edelstein reviews 'True Story,' starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

DJ / Producer Mark Ronson & YouTube's First Decade

Thursday, April 16 2015 09:00 PM

DJ, musician and record producer Mark Ronson talks about his life in music. Ronson's hit song 'Uptown Funk' featuring Bruno Mars spent 14 weeks at #1 on Billboard's 'Hot 100' chart. Ronson had his first big success producing Amy Winehouse and has produced recordings by Paul McCartney, Adele, Christina Aguilera, Nas, and Lily Allen. Also, tech contributor Alexis Madrigal reflects on YouTube's first decade.

Billy Crystal & Josh Gad

Wednesday, April 15 2015 09:00 PM

In the new FX series 'The Comedians,' Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as satirical versions of themselves. The show is about how the two comedians are hesitant to work together and share the spotlight, but they do, and they begin a strained relationship, in which they're separated from each other by a generational comedy gap. They discuss their new show, their respective work on Broadway and voicing animation. Also David Bianculli shares his thoughts on the series finale of 'Justified.'

'House Of Cards' Showrunner Beau Willimon

Tuesday, April 14 2015 10:08 PM

'House of Cards' showrunner Beau Willimon talks about his work as a campaign advance man, using soliloquies in the show, and the "litmus test" in the pilot episode. Ken Tucker reviews The Mountain Goats' new album, 'Beat The Champ' and book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Children's Crusade.'

'70s Radicals And The 'Days Of Rage'

Monday, April 13 2015 09:00 PM

Bryan Burrough's new book 'Days of Rage' describes the Weather Underground and other militant groups' tactics to protest the government in the 1970s. He interviews former radicals who had never gone on the record before. We also remember historian Stanley Kutler who helped uncover over 200 hours of Watergate tapes.

Best Of: Adam Driver & Philip Glass

Saturday, April 11 2015 01:00 AM

Before pursuing acting, Adam Driver was in the Marines. He says acting and being in the military aren't so different, "You have a group of people trying to accomplish a mission that's greater than themselves. It's not about one person." Driver stars in the new film comedy 'While We're Young.' Ken Tucker reviews Kendrick Lamar's 'To Pimp a Butterfly.' Composer Phillip Glass' new memoir, 'Words Without Music,' looks back on his childhood, travels through Asia and when his music provoked violence.

Extreme Medicine

Friday, April 10 2015 09:00 PM

Dr. Kevin Fong explores how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, outer space and deep sea. He compares the exploration of medicine with the "explorers of the 20th century and every age before them. His book is called 'Extreme Medicine.' David Edelstein reviews 'Clouds of Sils Maria.'

Adam Driver

Thursday, April 09 2015 09:00 PM

Actor Adam Driver of 'Girls' now stars in Noah Baumbach's new 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. Ken Tucker reviews Kendrick Lamar's newest album, 'To Pimp a Butterfly.'

Bed Bugs & Cartoonist Lucy Knisley

Wednesday, April 08 2015 09:00 PM

Brooke Borel tells us about the creepy, crawly world of bed bugs and how they have infiltrated our homes. Her new book is called 'Infested.' Also cartoonist Lucy Knisley discusses her new travelogue 'Displacement.' David Bianculli reviews 'The Comedians' and the new season of 'Louie.'

The Tsarnaev Brothers' Story & A Tribute To Billie Holiday

Tuesday, April 07 2015 09:00 PM

Journalist Masha Gessen's new book 'The Brothers' is about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers behind the Boston Marathon bombing. She shares her reportage from Dzhokhar's trial as well as her travels to Dagestan, where she learned more about the Tsarnaevs' background. Also, April 7 marks the hundredth birthday of singer Billie Holiday, born in Philadelphia. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead has some thoughts on Holiday's changing style, her influences, and singers she influenced.

Composer Philip Glass

Monday, April 06 2015 09:00 PM

For the composer, life is how the past and the future connect. Philip Glass' new memoir, 'Words Without Music,' looks back on his childhood, travels through Asia and when his music provoked violence.

Best Of: 'Cucumber' Creator & Cartoonist 'BEK'

Saturday, April 04 2015 01:00 AM

Russell T. Davies, creator of the BBC series 'Queer As Folk,' talks about his new series 'Cucumber' and 'Banana.' Rock historian Ed Ward tells the story of Captain Beefheart and New Yorker cartoonist and 'Girls' producer Bruce Eric Kaplan (aka BEK) discusses his new illustrated memoir 'I Was A Child.'

Hilary Mantel On 'Wolf Hall'

Friday, April 03 2015 09:00 PM

Hilary Mantel is the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel, 'Wolf Hall,' and also for its 2012 sequel, 'Bring Up the Bodies.' She spoke to Terry Gross in 2012. 'Wolf Hall' is now a PBS Masterpiece costume drama airing Sunday April 5th. John Powers, our critic at large, reviews the new TV production.

New Yorker Cartoonist 'BEK' & Cynthia Lennon

Thursday, April 02 2015 09:00 PM

Bruce Eric Kaplan (aka BEK) has a new illustrated memoir called 'I Was A Child.' It describes his life in Maplewood, N.J., in the '60s and '70s. He says it's a way of keeping his parents alive, "not just for me, but for the world." He's also a producer on the HBO series 'Girls.' Then we remember Cynthia Lennon, Beatle John Lennon's first wife. She died yesterday at 75.

'Cucumber' & 'Banana' Creator Russell T. Davies

Wednesday, April 01 2015 09:30 PM

'Cucumber' tells the adventures of a middle-aged gay man; 'Banana' is a series of short stories. Russell T. Davies, who made 'Queer As Folk,' says the titles came from a scientific institute in Switzerland. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the HBO documentary on Frank Sinatra and Milo Miles reviews a latin groove anthology.

Judge Says Raising Money To Be Elected Is 'Tawdry'

Tuesday, March 31 2015 09:00 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 09:00 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 01:00 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.