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.

Visit the Fresh Air website for more information.

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.

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1:24pm

Fri February 28, 2014
Movie Reviews

Liam Neeson's Action Chops Take Flight In 'Non-Stop'

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Liam Neeson became a bankable action hero in 2008 with the thriller "Taken." Now almost 62, he's still getting out of tight corners with his fists in the new action thriller "Non-Stop," most of which unfolds on a transatlantic flight from New York to London. The film also stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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2:36pm

Thu February 27, 2014
Space

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Cosmos Shouldn't Make You Feel Small

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 9:45 am

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts a new TV series called Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey. It's an update of the influential 1980 PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Journey, hosted by Carl Sagan.
Patrick Eccelsine Fox

When it comes to "callings" we usually think of people who feel drawn to religious career paths. But if you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson how he became an astrophysicist he says: "I think the universe called me. I feel like I had no say in the matter."

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2:36pm

Thu February 27, 2014
Remembrances

Remembering Harold Ramis, Master Of The 'Smart Dumb-Movie'

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Harold Ramis, who died earlier this week, was a writer, director and actor who played a key role in several of the most popular comedies of the last half-century. His list of credits includes "Animal House," "Caddyshack," "Meatballs," "Stripes," "Ghostbusters," and of course "Groundhog Day." Our critic-at-large John Powers is a fan and says there was more going on in Ramis' work than you might think.

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1:50pm

Wed February 26, 2014
Middle East

In Benghazi, U.S. Intelligence Wasn't Focused On 'Homegrown Militants'

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 5:14 pm

New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick." href="/post/benghazi-us-intelligence-wasnt-focused-homegrown-militants" class="noexit lightbox">
A vehicle inside the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi is engulfed in flames after an attack on Sept. 11, 2012. "There is no evidence whatsoever that al-Qaida or any group linked to al-Qaida played a role in organizing or leading the attack," says New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick.
STR AFP/Getty Images

On Sept. 11, 2012, an attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Who led this attack and why have been the subject of much controversy in Washington. Republicans have charged that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton's State Department were at fault for not stopping what the Republicans claim was a carefully planned attack by international terrorists, including al-Qaida.

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1:50pm

Wed February 26, 2014
Book Reviews

These Stories Consider Solitude, With Echoes Of Emily Dickinson

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 2:20 pm

Courtesy of Knopf

Lorrie Moore isn't quite a household name. This was news to me, because I thought that, given that she's the kind of writer who's published in The New Yorker and profiled in The New York Times, most culture vultures would know who she is. But, over the past couple of weeks when I mentioned her new book, Bark, in conversations, both in the halls of academe and over meals with friends, I mostly got blank stares. (One smarty confused her with that other great literary "Lorrie" — the late Laurie Colwin — whose short stories and novels are also essential reading.)

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3:02pm

Tue February 25, 2014
Music Reviews

Still 'Out To Lunch' 50 Years Later

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:15 pm

Eric Dolphy in Copenhagen, 1961.
JP Jazz Archive Redferns

1964 was a great year for cutting-edge jazz records like Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Andrew Hill's Point of Departure. But none sounds as far ahead of its time as Eric Dolphy's masterpiece Out to Lunch, recorded for Blue Note on Feb. 25, 1964.

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3:02pm

Tue February 25, 2014
Author Interviews

During World War I, Germany Unleashed 'Terrorist Cell In America'

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 12:06 pm

A fireboat sits amid ruins and debris on the piers at Black Tom Island in Jersey City, N.J., on July 30, 1916. Evidence pointed to German sabotage. In Dark Invasion, Howard Blum explores Germany's spy network and sabotage efforts in the U.S. at the beginning of World War I.
AP

In the early years of World War I, as many as 1,000 American horses per day were shipped off to Europe to assist in the Allied war effort, even though the United States was officially neutral. Those horses became the target of germ warfare, infected with anthrax cultures on American soil; at the same time, mysterious explosions were rocking U.S. munitions factories, and fires were breaking out on ships headed to Europe.

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3:02pm

Tue February 25, 2014
Remembrances

Harold Ramis On Working At 'Playboy' And Writing 'Animal House'

Ramis, shown here in Chicago in 2009, died of complications related to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis on Monday.
Tasos Katopodis Getty Images for The Second City

Comedy actor, writer and director Harold Ramis is best known for the 1984 film Ghostbusters, which he co-wrote and starred in along with Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. Ramis had co-written and planned to star in the long-awaited Ghostbusters III — but did not get the chance. Ramis died Monday in Chicago from an autoimmune disorder. He was 69 years old.

Ramis co-wrote Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes. He co-wrote and directed Caddyshack and directed Murray in Groundhog Day.

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2:15pm

Mon February 24, 2014
All Tech Considered

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 11:00 am

Sure, you can try doing your Internet browsing this way, but we can't promise that it will help you protect your personal data online.
iStockphoto

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. "It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month ... and I was amazed at how revealing they were," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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2:15pm

Mon February 24, 2014
Music Reviews

Vertical Scratchers: Slashed Chords, Fractured Poetry

Vertical Scratchers.
Joseph Amario Courtesy of the artist

The members of Vertical Scratchers don't have to pretend: They are free spirits, making music that is at once tightly composed, whimsical and anarchic.

The vocals on a Vertical Scratchers song tend to be high-pitched and yearning. John Schmersal creates harmonies from his vocal tracks that have a keening romanticism. His guitar lines are a series of slashed chords — vertical scratching, and thus the band's name. At the same time, there's a compressed intensity to the tunes, which uncoil with a snap, again and again.

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12:32pm

Sat February 22, 2014
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: David O. Russell, 'Last Of The Unjust,' And 'Sonic Wonders'

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

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:

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1:14pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Movie Reviews

'Wind Rises' Is Exquisite, And Likely To Be Hayao Miyazaki's Last

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:57 pm

In the film, which Miyazaki says is his last, the wind carries off the parasol of a fragile girl, Nahoko, into the hands of Jiro — who will fall in love with her.
Studio Ghibli Nibariki

The 73-year-old Japanese animation titan Hayao Miyazaki says The Wind Rises is his final film, and if that's true — and I hope it's not but fear it is, since he's not the type to make rash declarations — he's going out on a high.

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12:58pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Interviews

Matthew McConaughey, Getting Serious Again

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 3:13 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. In the film "Dallas Buyers Club," Matthew McConaughey plays a homophobic man who's diagnosed as HIV positive and given 30 days to live. He begins non-approved pharmaceuticals into the country from abroad after learning about the ineffectiveness and side-effects of the drugs being prescribed in the U.S. He not only treats himself with the drugs, but also distributes them to other patients through a buyer's club, a way to skirt the FDA rules which prohibited the use of those medications.

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12:58pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Interviews

Director Alexander Payne On Mining Every Film For Comic Potential

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:28 pm

Alexander Payne arrives at the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012.
Chris Pizzello AP

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 2, 2013.

Alexander Payne directed and co-wrote the films Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants. He's directed Jack Nicholson and George Clooney in starring roles and has won two Oscars for best adapted screenplay.

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3:17pm

Thu February 20, 2014
Movie Interviews

At Last, David O. Russell Is Making The Films He Was Meant To Make

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 5:25 pm

A '70s con artist (Christian Bale, right) is forced to team up with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper, left) in American Hustle, inspired by a real-life sting targeting corrupt politicians.
Francois Duhamel Columbia Pictures

Filmmaker David O. Russell first talked with Fresh Air's Terry Gross back in 1994, and two decades later, he tells her: "It's taken me 20 years since I first spoke to you to really make the films that I think I was meant to make, and to be at the level of filmmaking and storytelling and writing that I think I had ever aspired to."

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2:11pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Movie Reviews

For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'?

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:38 pm

In 1975, Shoah director Claude Lanzmann (left) interviewed Benjmain Murmelstein, the last surviving Elder of the Jews of the Czech Theresienstadt ghetto, at his home in Rome. The resulting film is The Last of the Unjust.
Cohen Media Group

When you're faced with something as heinous as the Holocaust, it's tempting to turn it into a simple morality play. This isn't to say one can't pass moral judgments — Hitler and his cohort were undeniably evil. But judging can become a form of lazy evasion, a way of closing the book on the tricky realities of failure, guilt and complicity.

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2:11pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Author Interviews

One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:38 pm

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.

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3:03pm

Tue February 18, 2014
Television

With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon took over as host of The Tonight Show on Monday. "I hope I do well," he told the audience. "I hope that you enjoy this."
Theo Wargo Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it is fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.

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3:03pm

Tue February 18, 2014
Author Interviews

Teens Rehearse For Adulthood In Wolitzer's 'Interestings'

iStockphoto

Teen years are sort of a "rehearsal" for adulthood, author Meg Wolitzer tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, and that's particularly true at the performing arts summer camp where her latest novel begins. It's 1974, and the main character, Jules, a newcomer to the camp, is invited into a circle of 15- and 16-year-olds who nickname themselves — with knowing irony — The Interestings.

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2:59pm

Mon February 17, 2014
Interviews

In 'Passage,' Caro Mines LBJ's Changing Political Roles

Vice President Spiro Agnew (right) and former President Lyndon Johnson view the liftoff of Apollo 11 from the stands at the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969.
NASA Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on May 13, 2013.

For the past 37 years, Robert Caro has devoted his life to writing the definitive biography of Lyndon Johnson. So far, The Years of Lyndon Johnson has four acclaimed volumes and has shown readers just how complex the 36th president was, as both a politician and a man.

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11:03am

Mon February 17, 2014
Book Reviews

Don't Know What To Do With Your Life? Neither Did Thoreau

Originally published on Mon February 17, 2014 2:59 pm

The works of Henry David Thoreau have influenced generations of readers, but Thoreau himself wasn't always celebrated. His schoolmates and neighbors found him standoffish and regarded his fascination with plants and Indian relics as downright odd.
AP

Every year, students come into my office and say, "I don't know what I want to do with my life." Of course, plenty of people in the world don't have the luxury of such cluelessness, but my students don't look like they're enjoying their privilege; they look scared and depressed, as though they've already failed some big test of character. They might find some comfort in Michael Sims' new biography of the young Henry David Thoreau called, simply, The Adventures of Henry Thoreau.

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11:15am

Sat February 15, 2014
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Extreme Medicine,' Lake Street Dive, 'When We Get Home'

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 11:57 am

Most of us have never been submerged under more than a few feet underwater. But just a few meters down, the water compresses the tissues of your body so that you become more dense. At that point, "You're more likely to sink than float," says Dr. Kevin Fong.
iStockphoto.com

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:

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11:17am

Fri February 14, 2014
Interviews

At 77, Robert Redford Goes Back To His Roots

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 5:58 pm

In All Is Lost, Robert Redford plays an unnamed sailor, stranded at sea on a badly damaged yacht.
Daniel Daza Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 12, 2013.

Robert Redford isn't merely the star of the movie All Is Lost — he plays the only character. He plays a man stranded alone on a small yacht in the Indian Ocean, and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott says it's "the performance of a lifetime."

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1:51pm

Thu February 13, 2014
Politics

A Closer Look At How Corporations Influence Congress

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:51 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Corporations work hard to influence Congress and public opinion. My guest, Eric Lipton, is an investigative reporter for the New York Times who's been writing about how corporations work in opaque ways to shape debates on issues ranging from whether we should raise the minimum wage to whether high-fructose corn syrup is less healthy than sugar.

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1:51pm

Thu February 13, 2014
Television

In 'Whole Gritty City,' Marching Bands Vie For Coveted Mardi Gras Spots

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 4:51 pm

The Whole Gritty City follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the New Orleans parade." href="/post/whole-gritty-city-marching-bands-vie-coveted-mardi-gras-spots" class="noexit lightbox">
Eleven-year-old Jaron "Bear" Williams practices trumpet before marching in his first Mardi Gras season. The Whole Gritty City follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the New Orleans parade.
Courtesy of CBS

There are times when television really does try to put its best foot forward — promoting a new fall season, for example. But it's an almost twisted rule of TV that sometimes, the better a television offering is, the more likely it is to be shown when even the network presenting it doesn't think many people will be watching.

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4:13pm

Wed February 12, 2014
Music Reviews

Lake Street Dive: 'Portraits' Of Heartache

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:21 am

Lake Street Dive.
Jarrod McCabe Courtesy of the artist

Lake Street Dive is powered by the voice of Rachael Price; it's what hits you first when you listen to this quartet. It's a ringingly clear, strong voice, a sound that's at once beseeching and in control. Price regularly harmonizes with the other members of Lake Street Dive — bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese and Mike Olson, who also plays guitar and trumpet. But most of the songs on Bad Self Portraits are showcases for Price's surging vocals.

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4:13pm

Wed February 12, 2014
Animals

In The World's 'Sixth Extinction,' Are Humans The Asteroid?

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 10:25 am

Elizabeth Kolbert says the "taxicab yellow" Panamanian golden frog was nearly wiped out by a fungal disease. It's just one of the species affected by what scientists call the Sixth Extinction.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction — which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction, and this time, human activity is the culprit. As one scientist put it: We're the asteroid.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the new book The Sixth Extinction. It begins with a history of the "big five" extinctions of the past, and goes on to explain how human behavior is creating a sixth one — including our use of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change.

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3:43pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Music Reviews

In Session: Frank Wess' 'Magic 201' Offers One Last Lesson

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 12:35 pm

Frank Wess.
Hiroyuki Ito Getty Images

Frank Wess' new album, Magic 201, is a sequel to last year's similar helping of ballads and midtempo strollers, Magic 101. The new album is very nearly every bit as good, and made a little more poignant by Wess' death just before Halloween. On his last session as a leader in 2011, he was still sounding strong at 89.

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3:28pm

Tue February 11, 2014
Author Interviews

Practicing 'Extreme Medicine,' From Deep Sea To Outer Space

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 12:39 pm

Most of us have never been submerged under more than a few feet underwater. But just a few meters down, the water compresses the tissues of your body so that you become more dense. At that point, "You're more likely to sink than float," says Dr. Kevin Fong.
iStockphoto.com

Dr. Kevin Fong works on "the edges" of medicine — researching how humans survive extremes of heat, cold, trauma, outer space and deep sea. "We're still exploring the human body and what medicine can do in the same way that the great explorers of the 20th century and every age before them explored the world," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

In his book Extreme Medicine, Fong describes how avant garde medicine is challenging our understanding of how our bodies work and the boundary between life and death.

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1:41pm

Mon February 10, 2014
Music Reviews

Hangin' Tuff: Eric Church Takes A Chance On 'The Outsiders'

Eric Church.
John Peets Courtesy of the artist

Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch. Now, one of the things I mean by that is that Church is willing to take big chances such as "The Outsiders," the title track from his fourth album, and clearly a manifesto he's proud of.

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