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.

Growing up in East Jerusalem, Palestinian cookbook author Reem Kassis never expected to enter the food industry. For her, the kitchen represented a "life sentence" for women.

Instead, Kassis moved to the U.S. when she was 17, first studying business at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and then at the London School of Economics. It wasn't until she had a child that she began to see the kitchen as a "powerful place" where she could share important stories about food and culture with her daughter.

Growing up poor in Washington state, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile learned about harmony and rhythm while performing as a backup singer for a friend's dad, who worked as an Elvis impersonator.

"It was pretty interesting education to be on the backside of the stage looking at audience faces," Carlile says. "I learned the things that they react to, how a smile is contagious. ... And I remembered thinking, standing back there in my poodle skirt going, 'Actually, I want to be that dude.' "

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. G. Gordon Liddy, the former FBI agent who planned the Watergate burglary that led to President Richard Nixon's downfall, died Tuesday at his daughter's home in Virginia. He was 90.

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For people serving time in jail or prison, it may seem like punishment ends on the day of release. But in fact, thousands of restrictions dictate the terms of life after incarceration, too.

University of Chicago professor Reuben Jonathan Miller estimates that there are 45,000 "laws, policies and administrative sanctions" in the U.S. that target people with criminal records. Some ban the formerly incarcerated from serving on juries. Others prevent people with records from gaining employment.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

During the pandemic, Jon Batiste took his music to the streets. This summer, the music director and bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert performed at marches protesting the killing of George Floyd. Recently he did a pop-up performance at a mass vaccination site in New York.

When you have a dog or a cat that is in pain and near the end of life, you have the option of putting down your beloved pet. Some people who fear loss of function — mental or physical — would like a similar option for ending their own lives in a safe, peaceful and legal manner.

Journalist Katie Engelhart explores the "right to die" movement in her new book, The Inevitable. Engelhart says individuals seeking death on their own terms sometimes resort to ordering lethal veterinary drugs from Mexico or China.

The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are the first vaccines to be activated by mRNA — and would not have been possible without the invention of the gene editing technology known as CRISPR.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

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This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Some of the most viewed, most remarkable and revealing video of the January 6 Capitol riot was shot inside the Senate chamber by my guest, Luke Mogelson. Some of his video was used as evidence by House managers prosecuting Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial.

National Book Award-winning author Tim O'Brien is best known for his stories about the Vietnam War, including the 1990 novel, The Things They Carried. But he says he'd give up every book he's written if it meant more time on earth with his two young sons.

Now 74, O'Brien didn't become a father until his late 50s. He says he was initially worried that having children would curtail his ability to write.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

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.

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.

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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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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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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."

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