Fresh Air

Weekdays at 11am
Terry Gross

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

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Author Interviews
10:41 am
Fri August 3, 2012

Crum: Lee Maynard's 'Love Letter' To His Hometown

Originally published on Fri August 3, 2012 1:10 pm

Lee Maynard's 1988 semi-autobiographical novel Crum is set in the small, poor West Virginia town where he grew up. The people of Crum who know the book tend to love it or hate it. It was even banned for several years in a state-run store. The sequel, Screaming With the Cannibals, which came out five years later, got his protagonist Jesse Stone out of West Virginia, across the Tug River into Kentucky.

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Music Reviews
12:52 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Digging Up The 'Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans'

Ryan Truesdell has turned unheard Gil Evans scores into richly textured works on Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans.
Dina Regine

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:47 pm

Gil Evans, born a century ago this year, was a leading jazz arranger and composer starting in the 1940s, when he wrote for big bands. He helped organize Miles Davis' Birth of the Cool sessions, then arranged Davis' celebrated orchestra albums like Sketches of Spain. Evans, who had his own big bands that went electric in the 1970s and '80s, died in 1991, but some of his rare music has been newly recorded.

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Author Interviews
12:11 pm
Thu August 2, 2012

Not A Feminist? Caitlin Moran Asks, Why Not?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 7:03 pm

Writer Caitlin Moran believes most women who don't want to be called feminists don't really understand what feminism is. In her book How to Be a Woman, Moran poses these questions to women who are hesitant to identify as feminists:

What part of liberation for women is not for you? Is it the freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man that you marry? The campaign for equal pay? Vogue by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that stuff just get on your nerves?

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Book Reviews
11:32 am
Thu August 2, 2012

A Moody Tale Of Murder In A 'Broken' Dublin Suburb

Broken window.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 2, 2012 2:18 pm

Mid-20th-century mystery master Ross MacDonald is credited with moving hard-boiled crime off the mean streets of American cities and smack into the suburbs. In MacDonald's mythical California town of Santa Teresa, modeled on Santa Barbara, evil noses its way into gated communities, schools and shopping centers that have been built expressly to escape the dirt and danger of the city.

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Politics
1:46 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

How Congressman Paul Ryan Is Shaping The GOP

Fussbudget, Ryan Lizza writes: "To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan."" href="/post/how-congressman-paul-ryan-shaping-gop" class="noexit lightbox">
In his New Yorker article, Fussbudget, Ryan Lizza writes: "To envisage what Republicans would do if they win in November, the person to understand is not necessarily Romney, who has been a policy cipher all his public life. The person to understand is Paul Ryan."
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

As the presumptive presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is currently the face of the Republican Party. But, as journalist Ryan Lizza suggests in his article in this week's New Yorker, the party's agenda and ideology are being driven by a very different figure: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

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Fresh Air Interviews
11:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Facing The Fiscal Cliff: Congress' Next Showdown

Bill Ingalls/NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 31, 2012 10:35 pm

In December, Congress is poised for another showdown on the deficit and taxes. If Congress doesn't act, 2013 will mark the end to Bush-era tax cuts that have been in place for a dozen years, and the beginning of automatic cuts to domestic and defense programs that would total $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office says the combination of higher taxes and deep spending cuts could create a 4 percent reduction in economic output, a number big enough to throw the country into another recession.

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Music
11:14 am
Tue July 31, 2012

Boban i Marko Markovic: Irresistible Party Music

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar performs onstage in 2008.
Roger Kisby Getty Images

A dozen years ago, if someone told me that one of the liveliest, most inventive party albums of the year would come from a band originally associated with wedding celebrations and beer festivals, I would have been all, "Yeah, sure, you bet." If it was further explained that the band's roots were much closer to polka than rock, funk or hip-hop, I would have responded, "Don't push it." But nowadays, I'm familiar with the Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, whose retrospective Golden Horns will lighten the heart and lift the feet as surely as anything you'll hear in 2012.

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Music Reviews
11:38 am
Mon July 30, 2012

This Time, R. Kelly Burns With (Relatively Chaste) Passion

RCA Music Group

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 2:56 pm

In recent years, the Chicago-based R&B singer R. Kelly has alternated between elaborate ballads and and the more erotic collection of songs and videos for his series Trapped In The Closet. His new album, Write Me Back, may be relatively chaste in its sentiments, but it's by no means without passion.

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Movie Interviews
11:31 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Getting Old Is Hard, Even (And Especially) For Models

In About Face, former supermodels (including Carmen Dell'Orefice shown above) talk about what it's like to grow old in an industry that is obsessed with youth.
Mark Mahaney/Greenfield-Sanders Studio Courtesy HBO

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 3:02 pm

You'll probably recognize many of the women featured in the new HBO documentary About Face: The Supermodels Then and Now. They are some of the most famous and photographed models from the 1950s through the 1980s. Carol Alt and Beverly Johnson are two of the supermodels featured in the film. They are joined by director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders to talk with Fresh Air's Terry Gross about growing up — and growing older — in an industry obsessed with youth.

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Remembrances
11:31 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Actress Lupe Ontiveros

Actress Lupe Ontiveros was known for her roles in the film Selena and the television series Desperate Housewives.
Alberto E. Rodriguez Getty Images

Actress Lupe Ontiveros died Thursday of cancer at the age of 69. She was most famous for her role in the 1997 film Selena, but Ontiveros also acted with Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, played a strict mother in the independent film Real Women Have Curves and had a recurring role in the television series Desperate Housewives.

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Fresh Air Weekend
2:03 am
Sat July 28, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Bishop Blair, Sister Farrell

Sister Pat Farrell is the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the vice president of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa.
LCWR

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 10:43 am

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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Movie Reviews
10:22 am
Fri July 27, 2012

Two Films Shoot Past Realism To Weirder Territory

A Dallas hard-luck case (Emile Hirsch, left) hires a corrupt cop (Matthew McConaughey) to kill his estranged mother when he hears about her rich insurance policy. Needless to say, the plot of Killer Joe doesn't quite work out as planned.
Skip Bolen LD Entertainment

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 1:12 pm

Amid the slapstick comedies, sequels and superhero movies that have come to define summer moviegoing, two films opening today center on disturbed and disturbing romantic ties. Ruby Sparks and Killer Joe aren't fantasy or horror pictures, but they're within screaming distance — close enough to remind you how much deeper artists go when they barrel past realism into weirder areas of the psyche.

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Interviews
10:21 am
Fri July 27, 2012

'Fresh Air' Bids Farewell To Melody Kramer

Producer Melody Kramer, who developed a strong social-media presence for Fresh Air over the last several years, departs this week.
Sam Briger WHYY

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 10:47 am

Today, reluctantly, we say goodbye to someone our listeners may have come to feel attached to, even though they've never heard her voice on our show.

Until about 3 years ago, we were so obsessed with getting Fresh Air on the air every day that we were virtually ignoring all the social media possibilities, and our website was pretty bare-boned. Then we hired Melody Kramer to be our associate producer for online media.

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Author Interviews
8:31 am
Fri July 27, 2012

In '1493,' Uncovering The World Columbus Discovered

Charles C. Mann is a journalist and contributing editor for Atlantic Monthly and Science.
J.D. Sloan

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 10:47 am

This interview was originally broadcast on August 8, 2011. 1493 is now available in paperback.

"In fourteen-hundred-and-ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue," goes the old elementary school rhyme.

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Music Reviews
2:00 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Ocean's 'Orange' Revolution

Frank Ocean performs onstage at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in April.
Karl Walter Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 4:35 pm

Born in New Orleans and still in his mid-20s, Frank Ocean has already written songs for major pop stars. He sang on the Kanye West/Jay-Z collaboration Watch the Throne, and he's been part of the tumultuous Los Angeles musical collective known as Odd Future. None of which quite prepares a listener for the beautifully moody music that dominates his new album, Channel Orange.

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The Fresh Air Interview
11:11 am
Thu July 26, 2012

Christopher Beha, On Faith And Its Discontents

Christopher Beha is an associate editor at Harper's magazine and the author of The Whole Five Feet.
Josephine Sittenfeld Tin House Books

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 2:15 pm

In the novel What Happened to Sophie Wilder, writer Charlie Blakeman runs into his former college love after 10 years and finds out that she has converted to Catholicism. Charlie can't make sense of her conversion, but as he finds out more about Sophie's past, he sees her life is more complicated than he previously thought. When Sophie once again disappears, Charlie sets out to discover what has happened to her.

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Movie Reviews
11:10 am
Thu July 26, 2012

In China, A Persistent Thorn In The State's Side

Although Ai Weiwei's art is internationally recognized, much of his worldwide fame comes from his political activism in China. The latter is the focus of Alison Klayman's documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.
Ted Alcorn IFC Films

Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 9:05 am

A couple of months ago, I visited Beijing, and like so many before me, I was stunned by how hypercapitalist Communist China has become — the hundreds of glossy highrises, the countless shops selling Prada and Apple, the traffic jams filled with brand new Audis. You felt you could be in L.A. or Tokyo — until you wanted some information. Then you discovered that Facebook was permanently blocked, certain words in Google searches always crashed your browser, and, as my wife joked, it was easier to buy a Rolls-Royce than a real newspaper. Here was a country at once booming — and repressive.

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Religion
11:10 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Bishop Explains Vatican's Criticism Of U.S. Nuns

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Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio is the bishop who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. You can hear Blair discuss the nuns' organization here.
Courtesy Catholic Diocese of Toledo

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 5:32 pm

Four years ago, a Vatican group called "The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" began an assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a member organization founded in 1956 that represents 80 percent of Catholic nuns in the United States. The assessment was designed to take a careful look at whether the nuns were acting in accordance with the teachings of the church.

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Author Interviews
12:04 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

'The Twilight War' Between The U.S. And Iran

David Crist's father, George (left), discusses operations against Iranian attack boats with Navy Lt. Paul Hillenbrand. George Crist, a Marine Corps general, was commander of CENTCOM from 1985-1988.
Courtesy of David Crist

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 1:54 pm

In The Twilight War, government historian David Crist outlines the secret history of America's 30-year conflict with Iran. The book, based on interviews with hundreds of officials as well as classified military archives, details how the covert war has spanned five American presidential terms and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare.

Crist tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that there have been several incidents that have almost resulted in battle over the past 30 years.

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Commentary
12:04 pm
Tue July 24, 2012

Swearing: A Long And #%@&$ History

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 2:29 pm

Sometimes it's small government you need to keep your eye on. Take Middleborough, Mass., whose town meeting recently imposed a $20 fine for swearing in public. According to the police chief, the ordinance was aimed at the crowds of unruly teenagers who gathered downtown at night yelling profanities at people, not just someone who slams a finger in a car door. But whatever the exact idea was, nobody thought it was a good one.

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Author Interviews
10:43 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Unraveling The Genetic Code That Makes Us Human

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:18 pm

There's enough DNA in the human body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back. But don't confuse DNA with your genes, says writer Sam Kean.

"They are sort of conflated in most people's minds today but they really are distinct things," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Genes are like the story and DNA is the language that the story is written in."

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Space
10:38 am
Mon July 23, 2012

Jill Tarter: A Scientist Searching For Alien Life

The Eskimo Nebula, as shown through the Hubble Telescope.
NASA/Flickr

Originally published on Mon July 23, 2012 1:18 pm

As a child, astronomer Jill Tarter would walk along the beaches of western Florida with her father and look up at the stars.

"I assumed, at that time, that along some beach on some planet, there would be a small creature walking with its dad and they would see our sun in their sky, and they might wonder whether anyone was there," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "But I never thought about it professionally until graduate school."

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:38 pm
Fri July 20, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Weaver, Sorkin, 'Dark Knight'

Sigourney Weaver stars as Secretary of State Elaine Barrish in the USA Network miniseries Political Animals.
Andrew Eccles USA Network

Originally published on Sat July 21, 2012 11:12 am

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:

Aaron Sorkin: The Writer Behind 'The Newsroom': HBO's new behind-the-anchor-desk drama follows in the footsteps of Sorkin's hit series The West Wing. "I like writing about heroes that don't wear capes or disguises," he says.

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Music Reviews
9:55 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Jesse Davis: Live From New York's Other Basement Club

Saxophonist Jesse Davis performs at Smalls Jazz Club in New York.
Michelle Watt Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 2:26 pm

Many jazz musicians, the kind who wear jackets and ties on stage, are often carelessly referred to as playing bebop. In reality most of them are post-boppers, who build on that dynamic style that burst forth after World War II, without bringing it back in pure form. It's the rare modernist who gets an authentic bebop sound on alto saxophone, who catches some of the raw explosiveness and rapid-fire grace of jazz god Charlie Parker. And then there's Jesse Davis.

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Music Interviews
9:55 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Eddie Palmieri: Now A True 'Jazz Master'

Eddie Palmieri
Raymond Roig AFP/Getty Images

Pianist Eddie Palmieri has been given many nicknames. He's been called The Latin Monk because of his Thelonious Monk-inspired dissonances. He's been called The Piano Breaker Man, because he hits the keys so hard. He's even been called the 'madman of Latin music.' He's taken many of the innovations of modern jazz pianists and brought them into his Latin bands. But he's never stopped playing good dance music.

In 1994, Palmieri's lobbying culminated in the announcement of a new Grammy Award category for Afro-Caribbean Jazz.

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Author Interviews
8:28 am
Fri July 20, 2012

When Zombies Attack Lower Manhattan

Colson Whitehead is a 2002 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. His writing has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, and The New York Times.

Erin Patrice O'Brien Doubleday

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 9:55 am

A zombie plague has wiped out 95 percent of America. Camps of survivors band together in pockets across the country, waiting for small squadrons of human "sweepers" to inch their way across major cities, destroying the remaining zombie-like creatures hiding out in office buildings and shopping malls.

But now the human sweepers have to tackle their biggest challenge yet: clearing the undead from Lower Manhattan.

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Remembrances
10:34 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Fresh Air Remembers Actress Celeste Holm

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 11:44 am

Celeste Holm, the actress of stage and screen, passed away of a heart attack on July 15. She was 95 years old.

Made famous on Broadway for her role as Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, Holm earned more fans for her performances in All About Eve (1950), The Tender Trap (1955) and High Society (1956).

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The Fresh Air Interview
9:21 am
Thu July 19, 2012

Sigourney Weaver's Stately Role In 'Political Animals'

Sigourney Weaver stars as Secretary of State Elaine Barrish in the USA Network miniseries Political Animals.
Andrew Eccles USA Network

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 3:56 pm

In the new USA Network miniseries Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays smart, tough Secretary of State Elaine Barrish. It's a role many critics have likened to current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Weaver says the show's creators were thinking beyond Clinton when they devised the role.

"We've had three remarkable women who've been our secretaries of state in our last three administrations, but somehow we're not willing as a country to elect a woman president," she says. "And I think this show partially investigates what that's about."

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Book Reviews
8:40 am
Thu July 19, 2012

A Little Advice On 'How To Be A Woman'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 10:03 am

Funny feminists should never die; there are too few of them who've gained any cultural prominence in the first place. That's why Nora Ephron's death earlier this summer flattened me, even though I hadn't read her in a while and had mixed feelings about the whole "I Feel Bad About My Neck," self-flagellation routine. Still, she made me laugh at the same time she often made me think: I wanted her playing on Team Feminist forever.

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Movie Reviews
3:55 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

As Class Warfare Brews, A 'Dark Knight Rises'

The Dark Knight Rises begins eight years after The Dark Knight, with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) living a reclusive life at his mansion alongside Alfred (Michael Caine). The movie is the finale of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.
Ron Phillips Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 9:54 am

The canvas is epic, the themes are profound, the execution is ... clunky. Welcome to Christopher Nolan's third and allegedly final Batman picture, The Dark Knight Rises — that so-called rising taking hours, by the way. No Batman film ever had less Batman.

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