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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2:06pm

Fri March 14, 2014
Interviews

In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat

Mary Roach is also the author of Stiff, Bonk, Packing for Mars and Spook.
Chris Hardy W.W. Norton & Co.

This interview originally aired on March 26, 2013.

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3:52pm

Thu March 13, 2014
Around the Nation

For Sandy Hook Killer's Father, Tragedy Outweighs Love For His Son

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 5:46 pm

Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six teachers Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., in 2012. His father has spoken to the media for the first time since the incident.
Jason DeCrow AP

We still don't know why Adam Lanza killed his mother, then 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning a gun on himself in December 2012. But we do know more about Lanza's life, what his doctors had to say about him and what his parents did to try to help him.

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12:56pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Music Reviews

Box Set Illustrates Clifford Jordan's Impeccable Taste In Musicians

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 2:05 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Starting in the late 1960s, jazz saxophonist Clifford Jordan produced a series of recordings mostly by other leaders that came out on the musician's own Strata-East label. Those seven albums are now collected in a box set. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Jordan the producer had impeccable taste in musicians.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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12:56pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Books

A Poetry Reading: 'To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death'

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 2:59 pm

Fresh Air's classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz is also a poet. He recently published a poem about friendship and loss on Poets.org. It's titled "To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like A Death:"

In today's paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

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12:56pm

Wed March 12, 2014
Movie Interviews

Wes Anderson: 'We Made A Pastiche' Of Eastern Europe's Greatest Hits

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 5:58 pm

Wes Anderson shot the Grand Budapest Hotel's lobby scenes in a department store on the German-Polish border.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wes Anderson's new film The Grand Budapest Hotel begins with an author looking back on his work, explaining how he came to write a book about a hotel. The film has a story within a story within a story — but most of it is set in the late 1930s in the fictional central European country of Zubrowka on the eve of war.

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1:31pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Music Reviews

Angel Olsen: A Voice Of Confounding Power

Angel Olsen.
Zia Anger Courtesy of the artist

Angel Olsen begins the song "Hi-Five" by paraphrasing Hank Williams, admitting she's so lonesome she could cry. She goes on to say she just wants someone who believes in love as urgently as she does. The twanging guitar throbbing beneath these sentiments suggests that it's going to be a long, lonely search. Over a matter of minutes, Olsen has created the landscape she'll inhabit for an entire album.

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1:31pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Author Interviews

For Working Moms, Key To Balance May Lie In Elusive Leisure Time

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 5:33 pm

fourthexposure iStockphoto

If your to-do list is so long that you are overwhelmed just looking at it, and if your list has you mentally racing back and forth between your responsibilities to your children and your job, what Brigid Schulte has to say may be helpful.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time is about the pressures on working mothers and fathers that lead to a constantly racing heart, consuming guilt and the certainty that they've become inadequate at home and at work.

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1:45pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Author Interviews

'Blood Will Out' Reveals Secrets Of A Murderous Master Manipulator

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 3:02 pm

The FBI pulled fingerprints off decades-old immigration papers to find Clark Rockefeller's true identity.
Lisa Poole AP

Let's say you meet a Rockefeller — Clark Rockefeller — and suddenly you have this connection to a world of wealth and privilege. Or so you think, because one day you find out he's an imposter. And not just an imposter — a murderer.

That's what happened to Walter Kirn, and Kirn's a smart guy — he's a journalist and the author of two novels that have been adapted into films, Up In The Air and Thumbsucker. How he was deceived, and what the consequences were, is the subject of Kirn's new memoir, Blood Will Out.

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12:05pm

Sat March 8, 2014
Interviews

Fresh Air Weekend: WWII Filmmakers, Kevin Young And Solitary Confinement

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 10:10 am

Maj. Frank Capra sits at his War Department desk in Washington on March 6, 1942. Capra's non-War Department films include It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
AP

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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4:02pm

Fri March 7, 2014
Movie Reviews

'Grand Budapest Hotel': Kitsch, Cameos And A Gloriously Stylized Europe

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 4:46 pm

Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave H., a hotel concierge given to bedding his elderly guests, in Wes Anderson's latest film.
Bob Yeoman Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wes Anderson has his share of groupies and his somewhat smaller share of skeptics who find him a tad precious. As someone who leans toward the precious view, but is open to his grace notes, I found The Grand Budapest Hotel mostly delightful.

It's a madcap comedy, but with hints of tragedy lurking outside the usual Anderson dollhouse frames. The central character is Gustave H., played by Ralph Fiennes. He's the concierge of a kitschy, opulent, high-class European hotel between World Wars I and II.

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4:02pm

Fri March 7, 2014
Remembrances

Fresh Air Remembers Surgeon And 'How We Die' Author Sherwin Nuland

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 4:46 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Because he was a doctor, Sherwin Nuland witnessed many deaths, including those in his own family. Dr. Nuland - who was a surgeon - was the author of "How We Die," an influential book about dying, which won a National Book Award. It was published in 1994. Twenty years after his book was published, Dr. Nuland himself died on Monday at his home in Connecticut from prostate cancer. He was 83.

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4:02pm

Fri March 7, 2014
Interviews

'Americanah' Author Explains 'Learning' To Be Black In The U.S.

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 4:46 pm

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and Granta. She is also the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of A Yellow Sun.
Little, Brown and Co.

This interview was originally broadcast on June 27, 2013.

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2:38pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Music Reviews

Pharrell Williams: Just Exhilaratingly Happy

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 4:03 pm

Pharrell, sporting more conventional headwear.
Mimi Valdés Courtesy of the artist

Pharrell Williams, who frequently goes by just his first name, is the sort of pop star whom many people would like to view as a friend. Emerging from hip-hop, he makes charming recordings that suggest a deep appreciation of pop, soul and R&B music extending at least as far back as the 1960s. To hear Pharrell on his new album G I R L, you'd think his world consisted of grooving on catchy beats and flirting with women. It's a lightweight image that draws gravitas from his prolific work ethic and a shrewd deployment of those influences.

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1:01pm

Thu March 6, 2014
Around the Nation

How 4 Inmates Launched A Statewide Hunger Strike From Solitary

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 6:30 pm

The July 8 hunger strike wasn't the first California's Pelican Bay State Prison has seen. Inmates in the prison's isolation unit also protested their conditions in 2011.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Last summer, four alleged leaders of rival prison gangs worked together to coordinate a hunger strike at California's Pelican Bay State Prison. They were protesting long-term, indefinite incarceration in solitary confinement.

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3:12pm

Wed March 5, 2014
Book Reviews

'Schmuck' Revisits The Golden Age Of Radio, And A Bygone Manhattan

RTimages iStockphoto

Beginning in 1952, and running through 1968, there was a legendary radio show called Klavan And Finch that was on WNEW in New York City. It was a four-hour live program featuring music and antic conversation between handsome, straight man Dee Finch and his live-wire counterpart, Gene Klavan.

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3:12pm

Wed March 5, 2014
Author Interviews

The Case For Tammany Hall Being On The Right Side Of History

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 9:18 am

Seen here in 1935, the building that housed Manhattan's Democratic Party, known as Tammany Hall, still stands today.
AP

Back in 1900, when Americans in cities counted on ice to keep food, milk and medicines fresh, New York Mayor Robert Van Wyck's career ended when it emerged that a company given a monopoly on the ice business was doubling prices while giving the mayor and his cronies big payoffs.

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2:46pm

Tue March 4, 2014
All Tech Considered

By The Time Your Car Goes Driverless, You Won't Know The Difference

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 9:23 am

Mercedes' S500 Intelligent Drive is one traditional carmaker's approach to driverless cars.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

If you've heard about autonomous vehicles — cars that drive themselves — you probably associate them with Google, which is working on fully autonomous vehicles that will drive us to and fro while we're safely texting on our Android phones.

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2:46pm

Tue March 4, 2014
Author Interviews

Fresh Air Remembers Literary Biographer Justin Kaplan

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember Justin Kaplan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who also edited the 16th edition of "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations," published in 1992 and the 17th edition, published in 2002. Justin Kaplan died Sunday at the age 88. His first book, a 1966 biography of Mark Twain, won a National Book Award, as well as a Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote biographies of Walt Whitman and Lincoln Steffens.

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2:46pm

Tue March 4, 2014
Author Interviews

Kevin Young On Blues, Poetry And 'Laughing To Keep From Crying'

Kevin Young's 2012 essay collection The Grey Album: On The Blackness Of Blackness was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Melanie Dunea CPi

In Kevin Young's new collection, Book Of Hours, poems about the death of his father appear alongside poems about the birth of his son.

He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that, in a way, those events were the anchors of his life.

"It was a way of just writing about what had happened and also the way that the cycle of life informed my life, from death to birth to ... a kind of rebirth that I felt afterward."

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1:04pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Author Interviews

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 1:35 pm

Maj. Frank Capra sits at his War Department desk in Washington on March 6, 1942. Capra's non-War Department films include It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
AP

When America entered World War II, some of Hollywood's most celebrated directors enlisted and risked their lives. But they weren't fighting — they were filming combat.

Through the 1930s, Hollywood and the federal government held a mutual suspicion of each other. But after Pearl Harbor, the War Department asked Hollywood directors to make short documentaries that could be presented in theaters before the featured films. The ideas was to show Americans what was at stake, give them a glimpse of what our soldiers were going through and stir up patriotic feelings.

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1:04pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Music Reviews

Chuck Mead: Gleefully Sinister Country Serenades

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 2:25 pm

Chuck Mead.
Courtesy of the artist

In "Reno County Girl," Chuck Mead serenades us with a tale about a young woman with whom his narrator fell in love. It's a loping country song, Mead's version of cowboy music, but as its pretty melody unfurls, you realize that its scenario is bleak: Mead's character urged her to leave home despite the objections of her father, and it turns out Daddy was right — this guy leaves her all by her lonesome much of the time.

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11:55am

Sat March 1, 2014
Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air Weekend: The Cosmos, Harold Ramis, And Protecting Your Data Online

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

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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1:24pm

Fri February 28, 2014
Interviews

A New 'Testament' Told From Mary's Point Of View

Colm Toibin's novel, The Testament of Mary, imagines the life of the mother of Christ in her later years.
Steve Heap iStockphoto

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 28, 2012.

In his novel, The Testament of Mary, Irish writer Colm Toibin imagines Mary's life 20 years after the crucifixion. She is struggling to understand why some people believe Jesus is the son of God, and weighed down by the guilt she feels wondering what she might have done differently to alter — or ease — her son's fate.

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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

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
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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