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.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. The Emmy Awards are this Sunday. The TV series nominated for the most Emmys this year, 26 of them, is the HBO drama series "Watchmen." Our guest today, Cord Jefferson, is one of the show's writers and is nominated for an Emmy for writing Episode 6. Terry interviewed Cord Jefferson last month, and I'll let her take it from here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our guest today is country artist Marty Stuart, who's just been selected for the Country Music Hall of Fame. His induction is scheduled to take place next year. In Rolling Stone, Marty Stuart was described as, quote, "one of the last remaining links to traditional country, roots music and the generation of greats like George Jones and Hank Williams," unquote.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

Today's first guest is author Donald Ray Pollock whose novel "The Devil All The Time" has just been made into a new Netflix movie premiering next Wednesday. It stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson, and here's a taste. In this clip, a young boy has just watched his father pulverize two guys after they made lewd comments about the father's wife, the son's mother. Afterward, the father gives his son some advice.

Author Yaa Gyasi's family emigrated from Ghana to the United States when she was 2, but it wasn't until she was 9 and her family moved to Huntsville, Ala., that she began to feel like she didn't fit in.

"In every other place that we had lived, there was a decent sized West African immigrant community," Gyasi says. "But when we got to Huntsville, there was, like, one other family in Meridianville that was Ghanaian and that was it."

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, in for Terry Gross. We're continuing our salute to some of this year's Emmy Award nominees by featuring group RuPaul, who is up for two Emmys as host and executive producer of "RuPaul's Drag Race" on VH1. He won in both categories last year. RuPaul became the most famous drag queen in the world after bringing drag into the mainstream with his reality competition series. It premiered in 2009 and completed its 12th season on VH1 this May. The series is now televised and popular in countries around the world.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The Primetime Emmy Awards are September 20. Today and tomorrow, we're featuring interviews with some of the nominees. Next, we'll hear from Ramy Youssef. He's nominated for two Emmys for the second season of his semi-autobiographical Hulu comedy series "Ramy" for outstanding lead actor and for directing. Youssef is a stand-up comic who often surprises people when he tells them he believes in God - or as he puts it, God God, not yoga.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt says one of the most unusual aspects of the White House administration is the existence of people who are trying to stop President Trump from acting in a way that could hurt the country or break the law.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools and businesses and altered life across the globe, but journalist Alexis Madrigal says comprehensive, rapid testing might be the key to a safe reopening.

"The key problem in the pandemic is we don't know who's contagious," Madrigal says. "And because of that, it is very hard to really grind transmission down to nothing."

CNN correspondent Brian Stelter says President Trump's "cozy" relationship with Fox News is "like nothing we've seen in American history."

In his new book, Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Stelter describes the president as a "shadow producer" to Fox News host Sean Hannity — who, in turn, acts as a "shadow chief of staff" for Trump.

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