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.

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President Trump's connections to Fox News got even stronger last week with his appointment of Bill Shine, a former network co-president, to serve as the White House's deputy chief of staff for communications.

Evangelical minister Rob Schenck was once a militant leader of the anti-abortion movement, blockading access to clinics to prevent doctors and patients from entering.

But after more than 20 years in the movement, Schenck experienced a change of heart. Though firm in his evangelicalism, he has disavowed his militant anti-abortion stance.

"I live with regret," he says of some of his former tactics. "I remember women — some of them quite young — being very distraught, very frightened, some very angry. Over time, I became very callous to that."

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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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W. Kamau Bell is embracing the word "negro." It's a term that connects him to civil rights icons of the past.

"Some people may be offended by it, but to me it just feels very like classically, importantly black," Bell says. "It reminds me of a time when black people were angry and doing something about it. For me it takes me right back to the height of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X."

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In August 2015, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was having a glass of wine in her kitchen with two friends, when one friend, a water expert, asked if she was aware of what was happening to the water in Flint, Mich.

Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, knew that the city had changed its water source the previous year. Instead of channeling water from the Great Lakes, residents were now drinking water from the nearby Flint River. She had been aware of some problems with bacteria after the switch, but she thought everything had been cleared up.

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Much has been written about Donald Trump as a politician and as a businessman, but a new book by Vanity Fair journalist Emily Jane Fox looks at the president through a different lens: as the head of a family.

Fox's new book, Born Trump: Inside America's First Family, focuses on Trump's three marriages and five children — as well as on his relationship with son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

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Filmmaker Paul Schrader grew up in a religious Christian household but he swore he'd never make a film about faith. Instead, he went on to work on the screenplays for the seminal 1970s films Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

"I was intoxicated by action and empathy, sex and violence," Schrader says of his early work. These themes, he felt, were "not in the transcendental tool kit."

As a science columnist for The New York Times, Carl Zimmer had reported extensively about genetics and the role gene mutations play in various ailments. After a while, he got to wondering about what secrets his own genetic code holds.

"I wanted to know if there was anything I needed to worry about," Zimmer says. "We all think back to our relatives who got sick and then wonder, 'Is that in me?' "

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Growing up in his grandmother's home in Durham, N.C., in the era of Jim Crow, former Vogue magazine editor André Leon Talley often felt like a misfit. Bullied for his clothes — which he describes as beautiful, but not overly flashy — he remembers feeling alone.

Then, when he was around 9 or 10, he stumbled onto an issue of Vogue at the public library. Paging through the magazine, he was captivated — it was was like traveling down a "rabbit hole," he says, into "a world of glamour."

From intestinal distress to family dysfunction, writer David Sedaris has spent decades sharing some of the most intimate aspects of his life. Still, there are some topics that make him uncomfortable.

"Nothing makes me more self-conscious writing in my diary than if I'm writing about something good," he says.

Cataloging achievements or compliments doesn't sit well with him: "I just think, 'God, if anyone were to find this diary, I would look so bad, congratulating myself here,' " he says.

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