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.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many American families without child care and in-person schooling. Those new household burdens have largely landed on the shoulders of women, says Journalist Claire Cain Miller.

Law professor and human rights activist Rosa Brooks wanted to better understand police violence and the racial disparities in America's criminal justice system, so she decided to join the police force as a volunteer.

As a reserve officer with the Washington, D.C. police department, Brooks received the same training as officers at the police academy and was sent on patrol like other police. From 2016 until 2020, she carried a badge and a gun and worked a minimum of 24 hours a month — all on a voluntary basis.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. Christopher Plummer, the prolific actor of stage and screen, best known for playing Captain von Trapp in "The Sound Of Music," died Friday at his home in Connecticut. He was 91. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Plummer appeared in more than a hundred films and earned widespread acclaim as a Shakespearean actor.

When it comes to fame, actor Rashida Jones has seen it all. Growing up in Hollywood as the daughter of superstar music producer Quincy Jones and Mod Squad star Peggy Lipton, Jones watched as some people rose to success — and others seemed to fade away.

In her own household, Jones' mother felt uncomfortable with her quick rise to fame at such a young age and became more introverted, while her father continued to become more famous.

In December 2020, a U.S. cybersecurity company announced it had recently uncovered a massive cyber breach. The hack dates back to March 2020, and possibly even earlier, when an adversary, believed to be Russia, hacked into the computer networks of U.S.

In 2014, Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, was killed on a sidewalk in Staten Island, N.Y., when a male police officer put him in a chokehold during a misdemeanor arrest.

Filmmaker Deirdre Fishel, who was working just a few blocks away, remembers asking a female police officer if what had happened to Garner could have happened on her watch. The officer said no — that a female officer would have been more likely to deescalate the situation.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WISHIN' AND HOPIN'")

Less than three weeks into the new Biden administration, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious disease expert who has headed up the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, is encouraged by the new president's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It was very clear what President Biden wanted ... and that is that science was going to rule," Fauci says. "That we were going to base whatever we do, our recommendations or guidelines ... on sound scientific evidence and sound scientific data."

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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For much of history, human beings needed to be physically active every day in order to hunt or gather food — or to avoid becoming food themselves. It was an active lifestyle, but one thing it didn't include was any kind of formal exercise.

Daniel Lieberman is a professor in the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard. He says that the notion of "getting exercise" — movement just for movement's sake — is a relatively new phenomenon in human history.

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Iconoclastic humorist Fran Lebowitz used to be known as a writer. Back in the late 1970s and '80s, she released two popular collections of essays featuring her cutting observations and opinions about life. But that part of her career was cut short by a decades-long case of writer's block — now she's known for talking.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Interested in learning a new skill in the new year? CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that will also improve your brain health.

"The act of experiencing something new — or even doing something that's typical for you, but in a different way — can all generate these new brain cells," says Gupta, a practicing neurosurgeon and associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "We want to constantly be using new paths and trails and roads within our brain."

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Happy New Year. It seems most New Years, at least one cable channel shows "The Godfather" films. In a weird way, I've come to think of it as a holiday film. For the 30th anniversary of "Godfather III" (ph), Francis Ford Coppola has released a restored and reedited version of the film. It has a new title, too - "Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Coda: The Death Of Michael Corleone" - spoiler. It's available on video on demand.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Happy New Year. We're happy to say goodbye to 2020, and we want to end it with something enjoyable and entertaining, so we're going to listen to a performance and interview we recorded earlier this month. Here's that show.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

GROSS: Over the past few months, I haven't been able to listen to as much music as I'd like because so much of my listening time has been devoted to shows and podcasts about politics, the election and COVID.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Life during the pandemic has been feeling like something Stephen King dreamed up. About 40 years ago, in his novel "The Stand," he wrote about a virus that's 99% lethal and wipes out most of the population. That virus was accidentally released by a lab developing biological weapons. "The Stand" was adapted into an ABC miniseries back in 1994. A new miniseries adapted from "The Stand" is now streaming on CBS All Access.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE CHRISTMAS")

ROSEMARY CLOONEY: (Singing) I'm dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used know.

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