Terry Gross

Host, Fresh Air

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. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says The San Francisco Chronicle.

Gross isn't afraid to ask tough questions, but she sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrender them. What often puts those guests at ease is Gross' understanding of their work. "Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private. But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions," observes Gross. "What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood."

Gross began her radio career in 1973 at public radio station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. There she hosted and produced several arts, women's and public affairs programs, including This Is Radio, a live, three-hour magazine program that aired daily. Two years later, she joined the staff of WHYY-FM in Philadelphia as producer and host of Fresh Air, then a local, daily interview and music program. In 1985, WHYY-FM launched a weekly half-hour edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which was distributed nationally by NPR. Since 1987, a daily, one-hour national edition of Fresh Airhas been produced by WHYY-FM; it now airs on more than 450 stations. Compilation CDs of Fresh Air are available in the NPR Shop.

Gross's book All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists was published by Hyperion in 2004.

In addition to her work on Fresh Air, Gross has served as guest host for the weekday and weekend editions of NPR's All Things Considered. Her appearances include a spot as co-anchor of the PBS show, The Great Comet Crash, produced by WHYY-TV, a short series of interviews for WGBH-TV/Boston, and an appearance as guest-host for CBS Nightwatch.

In 1994, Fresh Air received a Peabody Award, which cited Gross for her "probing questions and unusual insights." In 1999, America Women in Radio and Television gave Gross a Gracie Award in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, Gross received the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." She has received honorary degrees from Princeton University, Haverford College and Drexel University. She received a bachelor's degree in English and an M. ED. in Communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her alma mater awarded her an honorary degree in 2007 and a 1993 Distinguished Alumni Award. Gross was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.


Terry Gross appears in the following:

'She Wrote Her Own Rules': Kerry Washington's 'Little Fires' Role Reminds Her Of Mom

Monday, April 06, 2020

Washington plays an enigmatic artist adjusting to life in the suburbs in the Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere. "My mom is not somebody who has ever really fit into anybody else's box," she says.


Fresh Air Weekend: Max Brooks On COVID-19 Preparedness; Playwright Terrence McNally

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Brooks says the panic about COVID-19 could have been avoided. Lloyd Schwartz recommends Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's Cheek To Cheek. Fresh Air remembers McNally, who died March 24.


'Fresh Air' Remembers Jazz Guitar Great Bucky Pizzarelli

Friday, April 03, 2020

Pizzarelli, who died April 1 of COVID-19, played with Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Rosemary Clooney, among others. He spoke to Fresh Air in '92 and again, with his son John, in '06.


Branford And Wynton Marsalis Reflect On Their Father, Jazz Patriarch Ellis Marsalis

Friday, April 03, 2020

Fresh Air celebrates Ellis Marsalis, who died April 1 of COVID-19, by listening back to interviews with two of his sons. Branford spoke of his father in 2002; Wynton's interview is from 1994.


'Fresh Air' Remembers Fountains Of Wayne Co-Founder Adam Schlesinger

Friday, April 03, 2020

Schlesinger, who died April 1 of COVID-19, won three Emmy Awards for his songs for the TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He spoke to Fresh Air with bandmate Chris Collingwood in 1999.


'War Doctor' Says Treating COVID-19 Is Like Fighting An Invisible Enemy

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Trauma surgeon David Nott has volunteered in war zones and disaster areas around the world. Now he's treating COVID-19 patients in London. He calls the pandemic a "disaster zone for the whole world."


Fighting COVID-19 Is Like 'Whack-A-Mole,' Says Writer Who Warned Of A Pandemic

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Atlantic writer Ed Yong warned of a global pandemic two years ago. He says scientists are still working to understand how COVID-19 travels through air — and whether more of us should be wearing masks.


Heaven And Hell Are 'Not What Jesus Preached,' Religion Scholar Says

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bart Ehrman says the ideas of eternal rewards and punishments aren't found in the Old Testament or in the teachings of Jesus. His new book is Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.


Fresh Air Weekend: Marc Maron; 'Simpsons' Voice Actor Hank Azaria

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Maron's new Netflix stand-up special, End Times Fun, was named before the coronavirus pandemic. Azaria reflects on his IFC comedy series Brockmire and why he no longer performs Apu on The Simpsons.


'Fresh Air' Celebrates Broadway Legend Stephen Sondheim (Part 2)

Friday, March 27, 2020

Sondheim, who turned 90 on March 22, composed the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Company and other shows. He spoke about his career in musical theater in this 2010 interview.


Trump Has Declared 'War' On The Presidency, Author Says

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Benjamin Wittes says Trump has changed the presidency fundamentally — and we're seeing the impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is the author, with Susan Hennessey, of Unmaking the Presidency


'Fresh Air' Remembers Broadway Playwright Terrence McNally

Thursday, March 26, 2020

McNally, who died March 24 due to complications related to COVID-19, won Tony awards for Love! Valour! Compassion!, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime and Master Class. Originally broadcast June 1993.


Michael Pollan Explains Caffeine Cravings (And Why You Don't Have To Quit)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

When Pollan decided to write about caffeine, he gave it up — cold turkey. "I just couldn't focus," he says. "I was irritable. I lost confidence." Originally published Feb. 10, 2020.


'All Of This Panic Could Have Been Prevented': Author Max Brooks On COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The World War Z novelist has done extensive research into real disaster preparedness. "There is no excuse not to mobilize the full forces of the federal government right now," he says.


Comedian Marc Maron: We Need 'Groupthink Empathy' During COVID-19 Outbreak

Monday, March 23, 2020

"We [have] to do the right thing to protect those who are vulnerable," Maron says. His new Netflix stand-up special, End Times Fun, was named before the coronavirus pandemic.


'Fresh Air' Celebrates Broadway Legend Stephen Sondheim

Friday, March 20, 2020

Sondheim, who turns 90 on March 22, composed the music and lyrics for Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Company and other shows. He spoke about his career in musical theater in this 2010 interview.


'This Is Why We Play': Amid Pandemic, Philadelphia Orchestra Livestreams Beethoven

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Philadelphia Orchestra has shuttered its doors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin reflects on their final performance — streamed for people at home.


Electoral College 'Not Carved In Stone:' Author Advocates Rethinking How We Vote

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Jesse Wegman, author of Let the People Pick the President, says the Electoral College's winner-take-all rule is not mandated by the Constitution: "There's nothing keeping us from changing it."


'I Always, Always Fight': Octavia Spencer On Demanding More From Hollywood

Monday, March 16, 2020

Spencer plays businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker in a new Netflix series Self Made. Walker was born on a plantation in 1867 and built an empire selling hair and makeup products designed for black women.


'The Plot Against America' Asks: What If The U.S. Had Sided With The Nazis?

Friday, March 13, 2020

David Bianculli reviews HBO's new miniseries, which imagines that Charles Lindbergh became president in 1940. And we listen back to a 2004 with Philip Roth, who wrote the novel the series is based on.