Fresh Air

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  • Hosted by Terry Gross

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

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.

This interview was originally broadcast on Fresh Air on July 18, 2008.

A new revival of the hit musical Annie is now in previews on Broadway, scheduled to open Thursday. In the new production, the canine co-star Sandy is played by "Sunny," who has an understudy named "Casey." Bill Berloni trained them both — and, like the original Sandy in the original Broadway show, those dogs, too, were rescue dogs, found in animal shelters.

This interview originally aired on Fresh Air on Jan. 9, 2012. Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend is now out in paperback.

When Thomas Ricks first learned that Terry Allen, the successful general in charge of the 1st Infantry Division during World War II's Sicily campaign, had been fired, he says, his jaw dropped.

Mitt Romney was on CNN not long ago defending the claims in his campaign ads — "We've been absolutely spot on," he said. Politics aside, the expression had me doing an audible roll of my eyes. I've always associated "spot on" with the type of Englishman who's played by Terry-Thomas or John Cleese, someone who pronounces "yes" and "ears" in the same way — "eeahzz." It shows up when people do send-ups of plummy British speech. "I say — spot on, old chap!"

If you ask climate scientist Radley Horton, it's difficult to say that Hurricane Sandy was directly caused by climate change, but he sees strong connections between the two. Horton is a research scientist at The Earth Institute at Columbia University. He says that in New York City, the sea level has gone up about a foot over the past century and that researchers expect that rise to continue and even accelerate.

As Gemma, the fierce matriarch of the biker gang in the FX series Sons of Anarchy, Katey Sagal has shot and killed people, hit somebody with a skateboard, pulled a gun on a baby and done other horrible things. It's all part of the challenge of playing the character, Sagal says.

"She does things in the name of loyalty, which I relate to, but she goes way beyond anything I would do."

This review was originally broadcast on Sept. 26, 2012.

Jazz multi-instrumentalist Sam Rivers, who died at 88 in December 2011, recorded with many trios in the 1970s. But his most celebrated trio was barely recorded at all. In 2007, it played a reunion concert — its first in 26 years.

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 26, 2012.

After the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer was so angry at banks, he says, he decided to write about the people who rob them — in the form of fiction, since he's not an economist.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 24, 2010.

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 fall, arts organizations around the world are celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of composer John Cage, who was born on September 5th, 1912.

First I need to talk about the book, because it's not as if Cloud Atlas the movie came from nowhere — and if you think it's only the movie you want to know about, I think you need a context for what's onscreen.

Author David Mitchell writes exquisite pastiches, and Cloud Atlas is in the form of six distinct and enthralling novellas set in six different eras with six different literary styles.

In the 1970s and '80s, George Cables was the pianist of choice for saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper; Pepper called him his favorite pianist.

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 28, 2000.

Follow NPR's All Songs Considered (@allsongs) this weekend for reports and photos from the 2012 Moogfest. Check NPR Music next week for concert recordings from the festival and explore our 2011 archive here.

The presidential candidates may not be talking much about Guantanamo Bay, but the U.S. detention center there has been at the forefront of Michelle Shephard's mind for the last decade. The national security correspondent for the Toronto Star has traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, more than two dozen times; she even got enough stamps on her Guantanamo Starbucks card for a free latte.

Whenever I hear someone called a "cult writer," my hackles jump toward the ceiling. It's not only that the phrase calls up images of self-congratulatory hipsters, but that writers who become cultish tend to do so because their work is steeped in bizarro sex, graphic violence, trippy weirdness or half-baked philosophy.

Tom Wolfe wrote his new novel, Back to Blood, entirely by hand. But the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire of the Vanities also says that wasn't entirely by choice — he'd rather have used a typewriter.

"Unfortunately, you can't keep typewriters going today — you have to take the ribbons back to be re-inked," Wolfe tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "There's a horrible search to try to find missing parts."

Stephen Colbert loves music and loves to sing. That's why Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why. For example, as a kid, Colbert discovered his first lesson about character acting through "King Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar, even though he thought the words were scandalous at first: "Oh, so you are the Christ? You're the great Jesus Christ. Prove to me that you're no fool. Walk across my swimming pool."

On April 8, 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War, the Kachadoorian family found themselves in the middle of a firefight at a major intersection in Baghdad.

They had approached the intersection in three cars and didn't respond to Marines' warnings to stop and turn around; so the Marines opened fire, killing three men and shooting a young woman in the shoulder, not realizing that the people in the car were civilians.

In January, Ava DuVernay became the first African-American woman to win Sundance's best directing award for her second feature-length film, Middle of Nowhere. The film is about a young black woman named Ruby, who puts her life and dreams of going to medical school on hold while her husband is in prison.

Big Joe Turner's hardest-hitting singles have been collected on a new compilation, titled Big Joe Turner Rocks.

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:

On his major-label debut Blak and Blu, you can hear the roar in Gary Clark Jr.'s blues guitar, and in his vocal throughout "Bright Lights." It's one of the few straight-up blues songs on what is essentially an introduction to one of the most highly praised young blues guitarists in recent times. While Clark comes out of a blues tradition, he's also a twentysomething who's taken in all of contemporary music.

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 1, 2012. How to Be Black will be released in paperback on Oct. 30.

It's no coincidence that Baratunde Thurston's new memoir and satirical self-help book How to Be Black was slated for release on the first day of Black History Month.

In 1983, Berkeley poet and journalist Mark O'Brien wrote an article about sexual surrogates — women and men trained to help people with disabilities learn to use their bodies to give themselves and others erotic pleasure.

For O'Brien, the subject wasn't academic. After a bout of childhood polio, he had spent much of his life in an iron lung. He could talk, and tap out words on a typewriter holding a stick in his mouth. He could feel things below the neck. But he couldn't move his muscles.