Fresh Air

M-Th 7p
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

picture of Terry Gross
Fresh Air's Terry Gross
Credit Will Ryan

Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions.

One of Amy Schumer's comedy routines begins with the declaration, "I'm a little sluttier than the average bear. I really am."

Degrees of sluttiness may be hard to define, but Schumer does talk frankly about many subjects — including sex — that can be uncomfortable for people, both in her stand-up act and on her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer, which was recently renewed for a second season.

We live in a world filled with crimes, but most of them don't have much to tell us. They're cases of mere stupidity, cruelty or greed. But every now and then one comes along that invites larger thoughts about the culture.

About 25 years ago, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter were students in a Philadelphia high school and they wanted to impress a girl. So they formed a band ... which would go on to become the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop band The Roots. Questlove, the drummer for The Roots, says that for him, a musical future was preordained. As he recounts in a new memoir, Mo' Meta Blues, his father, Lee Andrews — a member of the successful 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews and the Hearts — groomed Questlove for show business from an early age.

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:

"This is just metadata. There is no content involved." That was how Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended the NSA's blanket surveillance of Americans' phone records and Internet activity. Before those revelations, not many people had heard of metadata, the term librarians and programmers use for the data that describes a particular document or record it's linked to.

Kanye West is having some serious fun with us on his new album, Yeezus, starting with the title; it's a play on his nickname, Yeezy, and his penchant for placing himself just this side of the Son of God in terms of cultural importance. That's just the first clue as to how assiduously aggressive and transgressive West wants to be on this album.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 6, 2012.

In Oliver Sacks' book The Mind's Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: "In the '60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery."

Journalist Jonathan Alter sees the 2012 presidential contest as the most consequential election of recent times. In his new book, The Center Holds, Alter argues that President Obama's re-election prevented the country from veering sharply to the right.

As New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, James Gandolfini created a character that helped open television to a new era of great and nuanced acting. When he died in Italy on Wednesday at the age of 51, fans around the world were shocked.

And as Fresh Air's television critic David Bianculli noticed, there was an instant online outpouring that celebrated "what an iconic performance he gave us in terms of television."

The revelations about secret National Security Agency programs, leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this month, have stirred great controversy, but this type of surveillance is not entirely new, according to journalist Shane Harris.

In his 2010 book, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, Harris traced the evolution of these surveillance programs in the U.S.

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