Fresh Air

Weekdays at noon and midnight

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

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Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

When Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford was a young man, he says, he had a cynical view of aging.

"I sort of went through life thinking that when you got to be in your 60s that basically you weren't good for much," Ford tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "That's a younger man's view. I know that the AARP phones are ringing when I say that, but now I'm 70 and I don't think that anymore, OK?"

Bob Dylan's career was interrupted in 1966 when he crashed his motorcycle while riding near his home in upstate New York. He wasn't badly injured, but used the occasion to disengage from the grind of touring he'd been doing, relax, and hang out with his band. During this hiatus, some tapes surfaced of new songs he'd been writing: the infamous Basement Tapes. On the occasion of the entire archive being released, Fresh Air critic Ed Ward takes a look at them.

Many veterans face an injury that goes largely unacknowledged — but journalist David Wood is bringing it to the forefront.

"I think that almost everyone who returns from war has suffered some kind of moral injury," Wood tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And I do not mean by that that they have done something wrong — only that they have seen or experienced things, which violate their own sense of who they are, their own sense of right and wrong, their own sort of moral compass."

Saxophonist Oliver Lake was one of the founders of the World Saxophone Quartet in the 1970s, and plays in the co-op Trio 3. Lake has led numerous bands of his own, including an occasional big band, and an organ quartet. Fresh Air jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says that organ group is one to watch in a review for What I Heard.

It's such a goofy title. Let Me Be Frank with You is the latest installment in the odyssey of Frank Bascombe, the New Jersey Everyman Richard Ford introduced almost 30 years ago in his novel, The Sportswriter. Two more Frank Bascombe novels followed, and now this: a brilliant collection of four interconnected short stories of about 60 pages each in which Ford is indeed "being Frank" Bascombe with us once again, as well as being "frank" about all sorts of touchy topics in America, such as race, politics, the economy, old age and the oblivion that awaits us all.

Will Holshouser has played all kinds of music on the accordion, including Cajun, avant garde jazz and indie rock. He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross in her studio to play features from his new album.

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

In Liberia, Ebola Makes 'Pariahs' Out Of The Sick, Says NYT Reporter: Helene Cooper grew up in Liberia and still has family there. Reporting on the disease last month, she says when she saw a sick, little boy get out of an ambulance, she "completely lost it."

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The actor's new memoir, A Story Lately Told, ends just as her Hollywood career is taking off. It covers her early life growing up in Ireland, the daughter of Maltese Falcon director John Huston. The two first collaborated on 1969's Walk With Love And Death, a project that proved disastrous for their relationship.

Originally broadcast Nov. 19, 2013.

When NPR Car Talk hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi opened a do-it-yourself car repair shop in Cambridge, Mass., in the early 1970s, Tom had never had so many laughs. The people who came into the shop were complete "wackos," he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2001. "But man were they fun. And they weren't worried! When the guy jacked up his Lincoln Town Car and drove the floor jack through his oil pan, did he cry? He said, 'Uh oh.' I mean people could take a joke!"

It's time I admitted something: Though I've written about the Internet for years, my online security practices are not good. Despite constant warnings from knowledgeable friends, I persist in doing all the things with my passwords that you're not supposed to. I don't make them complicated enough. I reuse the same ones over and over. I don't change them very often. And I keep a list of important ones in a file on my computer. Frankly, it's shameful!

Aasif Mandvi is best known as The Daily Show's senior Muslim correspondent, but he insists that when he was hired he was "a terrible example of a Muslim."

"The idea that I had anything to do with speaking about Islam or about the Muslim world was just absurd to my family. ... I hadn't been to the mosque in like 10 years," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I know the Gospel according to Mark better than I know any sura in the Quran."

Olive Kitteridge, a new two-part, four-hour miniseries that runs on HBO Sunday and Monday, sounds like the kind of long-form dramas TV used to make back in the '70s and '80s when miniseries ruled. Like them, Olive Kitteridge covers an entire generation in the lives of its characters — a 25-year span — but otherwise, it couldn't be more different. Most of those sprawling classic miniseries were set against major historical events, and were as much about passionate romance and glamorous costumes as anything else.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

"The more carny it got, the better I liked it," King says of his new thriller, Joyland. The book, set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973, is part horror novel and part supernatural thriller. King talks with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about his career writing horror, and about what scares him now.

Originally broadcast May 28, 2013.

When Jill Soloway's father came out as a trans woman — fairly late in life — Soloway says for her it was a huge relief.

"It's interesting, I think, to grow up in a family with this really huge missing piece and not know what that piece is — sort of like you're feeling around in a dark room," Soloway tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's like the elephant in the room, but all the lights are off. So you're feeling around and you're feeling this quite huge thing. It was an amazing relief for the lights to go on."

Taylor Swift's fifth album is called 1989, the year she was born. For the past few years, she's been the young queen of country music, by far its biggest-selling artist. But 1989 sidesteps country music entirely to become Swift's first pure pop album. Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker has a review.

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Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The disaster began on a day shift around lunchtime at a mine in Chile's Atacama Desert: Miners working deep inside a mountain, excavating for copper, gold and other minerals, started feeling vibrations. Suddenly, there was a massive explosion and the passageways of the mine filled up with a gritty dust cloud.

When comedian Amy Poehler was in her 20s, she read her boyfriend's journal and found out that he didn't think she was pretty.

"It was almost like an itch being scratched, which was, 'Aha! I knew that you didn't think I was pretty!' ... And then it was followed by a real crash because ... my ego was bruised," Poehler tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Poehler says it taught her that the earlier you figure out your "currency," the happier you'll be. For Poehler, that meant not leaning on her looks to be successful.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Arthur Conley was Otis Redding's protege, his special project, and had a number of hits before mysteriously disappearing. Our rock historian Ed Ward has uncovered what he can about Redding's story.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

When Gerard Russell was a diplomat in the Middle East, he met followers of ancient religions facing extinction. His new book includes the origins of the Yazidis, who are fleeing the Islamic State.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Bradlee was the executive editor for the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991. He published the Pentagon Papers and covered Watergate. Bradlee, who died Tuesday at 93, talked with Fresh Air in 1995.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

In the new black comedy Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Edward Norton costars as a pretentious and self-absorbed but very talented and edgy theater actor who has been cast in a play directed by a washed-up movie star played by Michael Keaton.

Norton, who has starred in such films as Fight Club and American History X, says that making Birdman was a highlight of his career.

At the moment, we're at yet another pivotal point in the history of home entertainment, which keeps changing with sudden — and major-- tectonic shifts. Just ask Blockbuster Video: Videocassettes for home libraries gave way to DVDs, which now seem to be giving way to streaming video and the cloud.

When Bryan Stevenson was in his 20s, he lived in Atlanta and practiced law at the Southern Prisoners Defense Committee.

One evening, he was parked outside his apartment listening to the radio, when a police SWAT unit approached his car, shined a light inside and pulled a gun.

They yelled, "Move and I'll blow your head off!" according to Stevenson. Stevenson says the officers suspected him of theft and threatened him — because he is black.

The incident fueled Stevenson's drive to challenge racial bias and economic inequities in the U.S. justice system.

Punk rock lives on the debut album by a new trio, Ex Hex. The album is called Rips, and it's at once a throwback to bands like the Ramones and the sound of something new. Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says the three women who make up Ex Hex have created an exhilaratingly energetic piece of work.

In April, residents of Louisa County, Va., were shocked to learn of a sexting "ring" among the town's teenagers. When Hanna Rosin asked teens from Louisa County High School how many people they knew who had sexted, a lot of them replied: "Everyone." But what was originally characterized in the media as an organized criminal affair was soon revealed to be widespread teen behavior.

"I think we as a culture don't know whether to be utterly alarmed by sexting, or think of it as a normal part of teenage sexual experimentation," Rosin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

A new Hilary Mantel book is an Event with a "capital "E." Here's why: The first two best-selling novels in Mantel's planned trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, each won the Man Booker Prize — that's a first.

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