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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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Politics
2:48 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

'This Is A Congress That's Really Doing Nothing,' Says NYT Reporter

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 3:11 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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Television
2:48 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Case Closed: Agatha Christie's Detective Poirot Solves His Last TV Mystery

David Suchet plays Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot. The last season premiers Aug. 25 on Acorn TV.
Courtesy of Acorn TV/ITV

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 3:24 pm

Agatha Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920. It featured fussy Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who proved the most popular of all her mystery-solving characters. Hercule made his final appearance in 1975, in the novel Curtain — and this month, nearly a century after he first appeared in print, the mystery series completes its lengthy run as a TV series, still starring David Suchet in the title role.

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Book Reviews
3:26 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

In A Funny New Novel, A Weary Professor Writes To 'Dear Committee Members'

Marek Uliasz iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 3:58 pm

For all you teachers out there contemplating the August calendar with dismay, watching, powerless, as the days of summer vacation dwindle down to a precious few, I have some consolation to offer: a hilarious academic novel that'll send you laughing (albeit ruefully) back into the trenches of the classroom.

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Remembrances
3:26 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: In Looking For Laughs, 'You Have To Be Deeply Honest'

Comedian and actor Robin Williams performs at the CBS Upfront presentation in New York City on May 15, 2013.
Jeffrey R. Staab CBS/Landov

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 6:45 pm

Comedian and actor Robin Williams says a woman once came up to him in an airport and said: "Be zany."

"Pardon?" he asked.

"Be zany," she insisted.

"It's that thing — they want you to be that thing," he told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2006. "And it's like, 'No.' Sometimes it's fun, and I'll play if the moment's right, if there's an opportunity. And if not, I'll talk straight with you."

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Music
3:34 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

At 74, Outlaw Billy Joe Shaver Is Still An Outlier

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 3:55 pm

In 1973, Waylon Jennings released an album called Honky Tonk Heroes that consisted almost entirely, with one exception, of songs written by Billie Joe Shaver, a then-unknown Texas songwriter.

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Author Interviews
3:33 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Nuclear 'Command And Control': A History Of False Alarms And Near Catastrophes

The Titan II intercontinental-range missile, pictured in 1965, sits ready for launch on its 150-feet-deep underground launchpad. "The one warhead on a Titan II had three times the explosive force of all the bombs used by all the armies in the second world war combined — including both atomic bombs," says investigative reporter Eric Schlosser.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 11:39 am

Globally, there are thousands of nuclear weapons hidden away and ready to go, just awaiting the right electrical signal. They are, writes investigative reporter Eric Schlosser, a collective death wish — barely suppressed. Every one is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder, he says.

"When it comes to nuclear command and control, anything less than perfection is unacceptable because of how devastatingly powerful these weapons are," Schlosser tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Fresh Air Weekend
4:27 pm
Sat August 9, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Allison Janney, Jason Hamacher, Pinterest And Interactive TV

On Masters of Sex, Allison Janney plays Margaret Scully. Janney was nominated for an Emmy as outstanding guest actress in a drama series for her performance.
Frank W Ockenfels 3 Showtime

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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Music Reviews
2:44 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Jaki Byard, A Post-Bebop Pianist Who Was A Master Of Stride Piano

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAKI BYARD SONG)

JAKI BYARD: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the "Late Late Show." I'm going into my act. This is my last set. So we don't know is going to happen.

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Movie Reviews
2:44 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

In The Irish Film 'Calvary,' A Priest's Crisis Of Faith Is Weirdly Jokey

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 2:57 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Author Interviews
2:44 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music Interviews
5:04 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Douglas and Caine Find 'Present Joys' In The Sacred Harp Songbook

Dave Douglas (left) and Uri Caine.
Jeff Countryman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri August 22, 2014 6:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Music Interviews
4:37 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Before War, A Punk Drummer Preserved Syrian Chants

Between 2006 and 2010, Jason Hamacher made many trips to Syria to photograph and record ancient chants.
Jason Hamacher Lost Origins Productions

Before the civil war in Syria destroyed ancient religious sites — and scattered some of the oldest Christian communities in the world — Jason Hamacher made several trips there, taking photos and recording ancient Sufi and Christian chants.

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Television
4:37 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Stick With 'The Knick,' A Medical Drama With Amazing Inventions

On The Knick, the graphic scenes are riveting, says David Bianculli, though at times you may want to look away. Here, Clive Owen's character administers a shot.
Mary Cybulski Courtesy of HBO/Cinemax

The first impression of The Knick, the new 10-part drama series that begins this weekend on Cinemax, is that it seems derivative. It's about a maverick doctor played by Clive Owen who's rude to almost everyone around him — like the abrasive hero of Hugh Laurie's Fox series, House. He works at a hospital in a big city, in the shadow of bigger hospitals, fighting for attention and respect — like the doctors on St. Elsewhere. The title The Knick, in fact, is short for Knickerbocker Hospital, and is as derisive a nickname as "St.

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Asia
2:56 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Malaysia Flight Wreckage Was 'Like The End Of The World'

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on July 17 in eastern Ukraine. The New York Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise was one of the first reporters to arrive at the scene.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP

Sabrina Tavernise, one of the first journalists to arrive at the site of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine last month, says it was strange how quiet it was. The wreckage was still smoldering; she was surrounded by miles of fallen bodies.

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Music
2:56 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

A Label Paramount To Early Blues And Jazz

There's nothing a certain type of record collector likes better than finding a stack of 78s on the Paramount label. Between 1917 and 1932, the label, which was one of several run by a furniture company in Grafton, Wisc., released thousands of records, but its real accomplishment was recording some of the greatest early blues and jazz performers.

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Music
3:36 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

A Lost Piece Of Soul History Appears

In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Ten of the tracks were supposed to become L.C.'s debut album in 1964. The release was postponed, then Sam Cooke was killed, SAR went out of business and L.C.'s album fell into limbo. Now, 50 years later, The Complete SAR Records Recordings has appeared. Fresh Air critic Milo Miles examines this lost piece of history.

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Books
3:36 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

How Ronald Reagan Used An 'Invisible Bridge' To Win Over Americans

In November 1973, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he talked with reporters about Watergate. In the years that followed, he spoke to Americans' anxieties with a simple message about America's inherent greatness.
Paul Vathis AP

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 4:50 pm

In the mid-'70s, during a turbulent three-year period, Ronald Reagan emerged as a national figure and nearly captured the Republican nomination from a sitting president.

Rick Perlstein, who has spent much of his career writing about modern American conservatism, describes this time in political history in his new book, The Invisible Bridge.

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Television
3:38 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

How Interactive TV Is Older Than TV Itself

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 3:52 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Television
3:31 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Allison Janney On Sex, Sorkin And Being The Tallest Woman In The Room

On Masters of Sex, Allison Janney plays Margaret Scully. Janney was nominated for an Emmy as outstanding guest actress in a drama series for her performance.
Frank W Ockenfels 3 Showtime

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 7:11 pm

Playing a woman discovering sexuality in the '50s makes actor Allison Janney think of — of all people — her mother. Janney's mother and father got married in their early 20s, and she doesn't believe her mother had sex with anyone else.

"I remember my mother talking to me about the birds and the bees," she tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Of course, I had already known [about them], probably years before she came to me. But remembering the way she talked to me about it — it's just everything about her reminds me of Margaret Scully."

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Music
3:31 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Spoon Wants Your Soul

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 3:52 pm

Spoon has just released its first new album since 2010's Transference. Fresh Air critic says that "They Want My Soul is another fine Spoon album in a career that has now come to display a remarkable consistency."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:37 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: George Takei, 'The Honorable Woman,' Dom Flemons

George Takei's personal story is illuminated in the new, funny documentary To Be Takei.
Victoria Will AP

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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Music Interviews
4:19 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Fresh Air Pays Tribute To James Brown, 'Godfather Of Funk'

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 10:58 am

Even though James Brown died in 2006 at age 73, he continues to be influential — a new biopic about him called Get On Up, premieres in theaters Friday.

In the '80s and '90s, Fresh Air recorded interviews with Brown's biographer and two musicians who played in his band. And in 2005, James Brown chatted with Terry Gross after the publication of his autobiography I Feel Good.

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Movie Reviews
4:19 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Sailing Through Space With 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'? Hilarious

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 10:57 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, BYLINE: This is FRESH AIR. The newest film adaptation of a Marvel comic is "Guardians of the Galaxy," which features five Motley warriors against an armada of space villains. Film critic David Edelstein has this review.

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Television
3:34 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Maggie Gyllenhaal Is 'The Honorable Woman': A Series Both Ruthless And Rewarding

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Nessa Stein in the SundanceTV original series The Honorable Woman.
Des Willie Courtesy of Sundance

Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in a new eight-part miniseries that couldn't be more timely: It's about a woman who finds herself embroiled in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

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Africa
3:13 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Kidnapping Is A Lucrative Business For Al-Qaida, Documents Show

A neighborhood resident walks through a building in Timbuktu, used by al-Qaida-linked jihadi fighters for more than a year. Last year, The Associated Press found al-Qaida documents in the building.
Rukmini Callimachi AP

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 5:39 pm

A recent report by journalist Rukmini Callimachi details al-Qaida's strategy of kidnapping Europeans and demanding large ransoms — and how those ransoms are a key source of funding for al-Qaida operations.

"Europe is funneling these enormous sums of money to al-Qaida," Callimachi, a foreign correspondent with The New York Times, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "They're reluctantly and unwillingly becoming al-Qaida's main patron."

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The Fresh Air Interview
3:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Dom Flemons Holds On To Those Old-Time Roots

Dom Flemons with his 1920s banjo.
Michael Weintrob Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 11:39 am

From his vintage hat to his enormous 1920s banjo, Dom Flemons looks like he's time-traveled from a different era.

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All Tech Considered
3:45 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Can Pinterest Compete With Google's Search?

Pinterest has created a database of "things in the world that matter to human beings," says Alexis Madrigal.
Pinterest

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 4:33 pm

The Pinterest interface is simple: Just click a button, and any Web page gets broken down into its constituent images. Any of those can be added to your own set of images, known on Pinterest as a board. Other people can find those boards and copy what they like — or simply search through all the photos on the site.

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Author Interviews
2:02 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

In 'Blue Eyed Boy,' Author Reveals Long Recovery From Facial Burns

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Book Reviews
2:02 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

'Ride Around Shining' Reimagines Gatsby's Nouveau-Riche Excess

Originally published on Tue July 29, 2014 3:54 pm

Most sports novels are about the aspiration to excel physically: to run faster, stretch out one's arms farther. The really cool thing about Ride Around Shining, a debut novel by Chris Leslie-Hynan, is that it doesn't stick to that familiar rule book. Even though it's set in the world of pro basketball, our narrator here is not the guy who aspires to be a great player; rather, he's the guy who aspires to be a great suck-up to the great player.

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Movie Interviews
3:44 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

From 'Star Trek' To LGBT Spokesman, What It Takes 'To Be Takei'

George Takei's personal story is illuminated in the new, funny documentary To Be Takei.
Victoria Will AP

Many fans know George Takei from his role as Mr. Sulu on the 1960s show Star Trek. But in the past decade, he has drawn followers who admire him because of who he is — not just who he has played. Now, the new documentary To Be Takei may interest more people in Takei's life.

Takei's personal story offers insights into a couple of key chapters of American political and cultural history.

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