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 interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gross, who has been host of Fresh Air since 1975, when it was broadcast only in greater Philadelphia, isn't afraid to ask tough questions. But Gross sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrendering 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," Gross says. "But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. 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 Air has been produced by WHYY-FM. The program is broadcast on 566 stations and became the first non-drive time show in public radio history to reach more than five million listeners each week in fall 2008, a presidential election season. In fall 2011, Fresh Air reached 4.4 million listeners a week.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross has received a number of awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 1994 for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insight." America Women in Radio and Television presented Gross with a Gracie Award in 1999 in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, she received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award for her "outstanding contributions to public radio" and for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." In 2007, Gross received the Literarian Award. In 2011, she received the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.

Gross is the author of All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, published by Hyperion in 2004.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gross received a bachelor's degree in English and M.Ed. in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Gross was recognized with the Columbia Journalism Award from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Princeton University in 2002. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 and Doctor of Humane Letters in 2007, both from SUNY–Buffalo. She also received a Doctor of Letters from Haverford College in 1998 and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Drexel University in 1989.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Humans typically take about 25,000 breaths per day — often without a second thought. But the COVID-19 pandemic has put a new spotlight on respiratory illnesses and the breaths we so often take for granted.

Journalist James Nestor became interested in the respiratory system years ago after his doctor recommended he take a breathing class to help his recurring pneumonia and bronchitis.

Growing up, Hannah Gadsby always felt she was different. She struggled to read social cues, she had trouble applying for jobs, and spent a few living in a tent and doing farm labor. But Gadsby, who's from Tasmania, had always been funny. On a whim, in 2006 she entered a stand-up comedy competition — and won.

"I'd never held a microphone before. ... I'd never even been to a comedy show — but all of a sudden, I kind of knew what I was doing," she says. "As soon as I told my first joke ... it really made people engage with me, and I held the audience in my hand."

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

COVID-19 has transformed home life — turning kitchen tables into home offices and classrooms and putting a spotlight on the countless household tasks typically performed by women. Brigid Schulte says the pandemic has laid bare the "grotesque inequality" that exists within many families.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In 2004, ABC News correspondent Dan Harris was broadcasting live on the air on Good Morning America when he started experiencing a panic attack.

"My lungs seized up, my palms started sweating, my mouth dried up. I just couldn't speak," he says. "I had to quit in the middle of my little newscast. And it was really embarrassing."

Janelle Monáe is interested in what it means to represent minority groups in art and music. In season 2 of the Amazon series Homecoming, she stars as a military veteran who wakes up in a rowboat — unable to remember who she is or how she got there.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Writer Michael Arceneaux has a tongue-in-cheek message for young people right now: "Please don't be as much of a mess as I was."

Arceneaux graduated from Howard University with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2007, just as the Great Recession was kicking in. He faced a dwindling media landscape — and more than $100,000 of private student loans.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Chef Tom Colicchio is one of the many restaurateurs wondering what will be left of the industry after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course.

For much of his life, humorist John Moe has dealt with clinical depression that's triggered by stress. Now, faced with the COVID-19 crisis, he says, "my depression wants to flare up."

On his podcast, The Hilarious World of Depression, Moe interviews people who have depression — mostly comics. His new book, also called The Hilarious World of Depression, details his own experiences, his brother's suicide and his family's history of mental illness.

Fashion expert Tim Gunn used to bemoan what he called the "comfort trap" — clothes that prioritized comfort over style. Now, after weeks of self-isolation in his New York City apartment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he's reconsidering his stance.

"I've gone through an evolution in these last five, five-and-a-half weeks," he says. "Why should we be self-isolating in clothes that constrain us and constrict us and are not as comfortable as something that's a little looser and more forgiving?"

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG'S "WEST END BLUES")

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

When nerds are depicted on screen, they are often bookworms and wallflowers who struggle to stand up for themselves. That's not the type of nerd Mindy Kaling wanted to focus on in Never Have I Ever, the Netflix series she co-created with Lang Fisher.

"There's also the belligerent, confident nerd, and they want big things for themselves," Kaling says. "We wanted to show an ambitious nerd ... [who] wanted to lose her virginity, wanted to be cool, go to concerts."

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

While researching his new book, Notes from an Apocalypse, about people who are preparing for doomsday, author Mark O'Connell undertook what he calls "a series of perverse pilgrimages."

What does it mean to be a woman who had a boyhood? That's the question LGBTQ activist Jennifer Finney Boylan set out to explore her new memoir, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs.

After Boylan came out as trans in her 40s, she felt estranged from her previous life. She describes her new book as a "memoir of masculinity, kind of told the way an expatriate might speak of the country of their birth."

Boylan acknowledges that some in the trans community might take issue with the notion that she had a "boyhood."

Actor Zoe Kazan describes her new HBO series, The Plot Against America, as "scarily prescient." The show, which is adapted from Philip Roth's 2004 novel, is set in the U.S. between 1940 and 1942, and imagines a world in which aviator Charles Lindbergh has defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the race for the presidency, moving the country toward fascism.

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