Fresh Air on AM 870 NewsTalk

Weekdays, Noon - 1pm

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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Book Reviews
12:14 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

'Beautiful Ruins,' Both Human And Architectural

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 12:41 pm

In Jess Walter's new novel, Beautiful Ruins, there's a beaten-down character named Claire who works in Hollywood reading scripts for a living. Claire is inundated with reality TV show pitches, many of them featuring drunk models or drunk sex addicts — in short, scripts so offensive that, Claire thinks, to give them the green light for production would be akin to "singlehandedly hastening the apocalypse."

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Fresh Air Weekend
2:33 am
Sat June 16, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Fermenting, Joan Rivers

Yogurt is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. "Bacteria in our gut enable us to live," says author Sandor Katz. "We could not survive without bacteria."
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat June 16, 2012 12:17 pm

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:


Joan Rivers Hates You, Herself And Everyone Else: Comedian Joan Rivers' new book I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me details the things Rivers can't stand.

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Television
11:53 am
Fri June 15, 2012

'Car 54' Re-Release Drives An Old Fan To Reminisce

NYPD officers Gunther Toody (Joe E. Ross) and Francis Muldoon (Fred Gwynne) patrolled the Bronx in the 1960s sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?
Shanachie Entertainment

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 6:24 pm

I grew up in New York City, but I didn't watch Car 54, Where Are You? until I got hooked on it in syndication long after it was originally aired. So I was very happy to see the complete series of 60 episodes released on two DVD boxed sets. The episode in Season 2 titled "I Hate Capt. Block," about trying to teach a recalcitrant parrot to talk and the way people are not much smarter than parrots, is one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen on television, maybe as inspired as Sid Caesar's foreign film parodies or Carol Burnett's version of Gone with the Wind.

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Remembrances
11:53 am
Fri June 15, 2012

For 'Wiseguy' Henry Hill, Mobster 'Days Were Over'

Hill (left, with Ray Liotta, who played him in the movie GoodFellas) was the central figure in Wiseguy, the 1986 Nicholas Pileggi book that later became the Martin Scorsese-directed film.
Rebecca Sapp WireImage

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 6:29 pm

Henry Hill, the mobster-turned-informant portrayed by Ray Liotta in the film Goodfellas, died Tuesday at age 69. Hill's colorful life — he lived in Cincinnati; Omaha; Butte, Mont.; Independence, Ky.; and Topanga, Calif., among other places — was documented in crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi's 1986 book Wiseguy and then in Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas, which was based on Pileggi's book.

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Around the Nation
12:22 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

Radio's Bryan Fischer Tries Pushing Romney Right

Before hosting Focal Point, Bryan Fischer was the chaplain of the Idaho State Senate and the head of the Idaho chapter of the American Family Association.
Troy Maben AP

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 2:56 pm

In April, Mitt Romney hired Richard Grenell, an openly gay man, to serve as his campaign's national security spokesman. Within hours, Grenell was being attacked by a Christian radio talk show host named Bryan Fischer, whose Focal Point call-in show reaches more than 1 million listeners a day.

Nine days after Fischer began his on-air attack, Grenell resigned. He had been the only openly gay member of Romney's campaign staff.

The Christian right and Fischer saw Grenell's resignation as a "tremendous victory," says New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer.

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Music Reviews
12:22 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

On 'Banga,' Patti Smith Pays Homage To Friends

Patti Smith.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 5:39 pm

Featuring Patti Smith's former New York punk-era colleague Tom Verlaine on solo guitar, "April Fool" is one of the prettiest songs on Smith's new album, Banga. Verlaine sends out long, thin, delicate tendrils of sound as Smith's voice suffuses the melody with full-throated urgency. Although Smith has said, with typical art-democratic directness, that "almost everybody in the world can sing," a few songs on Banga make you aware of what a good voice she has.

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Movie Interviews
12:16 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

At The Heart Of 'Your Sister's Sister,' A Love Triangle

Iris (Emily Blunt, left) invites her best friend Jack to her family's vacation home after a death in his family. Unbeknownst to him, Iris' sister Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt) is already there, in the hopes of getting over a breakup.
IFC Films

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 5:27 pm

Lynn Shelton's 2009 movie Humpday was about two straight men making a gay-porn movie to win an amateur film competition. It might not have reached a mass audience, but Humpday was noticed by other directors and producers, including Matthew Weiner, who offered Shelton a job directing an episode of Mad Men.

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Fresh Food
12:16 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

'Fermentation': When Food Goes Bad But Stays Good

Yogurt is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. "Bacteria in our gut enable us to live," says author Sandor Katz. "We could not survive without bacteria."
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:48 pm

The list of fermented food in our lives is staggering: bread, coffee, pickles, beer, cheese, yogurt and soy sauce are all transformed at some point during their production process by microscopic organisms that extend their usefulness and enhance their flavors.

The process of fermenting our food isn't a new one: Evidence indicates that early civilizations were making wine and beer between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago — and bread even before that.

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Music Reviews
12:16 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

The Untold Story Of Singer Bobby Charles

Singer, songwriter and swamp-pop pioneer Bobby Charles poses for a portrait in 1972.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 2:31 pm

When he was around 13, Robert Charles Guidry began singing with a band around his hometown of Abbeville, La., deep in the Cajun swamps. The group played Cajun and country music and, after he passed through town and played a show, Fats Domino's music. It was a life-changing experience for the young man, and he found himself with a new ambition: to write a song for Fats.

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Music Reviews
1:00 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Edmar Castaneda's 'Double Portion' Of Harp

Edmar Castañeda's new album is titled Double Portion.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 1:46 pm

The Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda was born in Bogotá, and began playing at 13. A few years later, in the mid-1990s, he moved to New York, where he studied jazz trumpet. Then he returned to the harp with a new perspective and set of skills.

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Author Interviews
12:08 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Under The 'Nuclear Shadow' Of Colorado's Rocky Flats

cover detail: Full Body Burden

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 3:40 pm

Kristen Iversen spent years in Europe looking for things to write about before realizing that biggest story she'd ever cover was in the backyard where she grew up. Iversen spent her childhood in Colorado close to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory, playing in fields and swimming in lakes and streams that it now appears were contaminated with plutonium. Later, as a single mother, Iversen worked at the plant but knew little of its environmental and health risks until she saw a feature about it on Nightline.

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Book Reviews
12:14 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Book Party For One: A Loner's Summer Survival Guide

Harriet Russell

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 4:48 pm

Summer is a season when people get hypersocial — with barbecues and neighborhood fairs, graduations and pool parties. In short, it's an especially trying time for those of us who'd rather stay indoors and read a book. My early summer reading list, therefore, takes the form of a loner's survival guide.

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Author Interviews
11:51 am
Mon June 11, 2012

Joan Rivers Hates You And Everyone Else

Joan Rivers says her material has only gotten stronger with age. "I always say, 'What are you going to do? Are you going to fire me? Been fired. Going to be bankrupt? Been bankrupt.'"
Courtesy of the author

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 12:18 pm

Joan Rivers doesn't hold anything back.

Over the course of her 50-year career, Rivers has made fun of her bankruptcy, her many facelifts, her husband's suicide and the sacrifices she made over the years as a female standup performer.

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Fresh Air Weekend
6:13 am
Sat June 9, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Neil Young, Tom Philpott

Neil Young.
Danny Clinch

Originally published on Sat June 9, 2012 11:33 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:

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview: Young's latest album with Crazy Horse, Americana, features songs many of us learned as children, like "Oh Susannah" and "Clementine."

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Movie Reviews
12:15 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

In 'Dark Horse,' A Wasted Life Plays Out On Screen

In Dark Horse, Abe (Jordan Gelber) and Miranda (Selma Blair) meet at a wedding and start a relationship soon after, though not for the most romantic reasons.
Jojo Whilden

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 3:46 pm

It's tough to get on Todd Solondz's wavelength, but boy is it worth the emotional gyrations. Just when you've decided he has too much contempt for his characters to do more than take cheap shots, he'll shock you with flashes of empathy, insights that cast a revelatory light over what came before. You could never call Solondz a humanist, but he achieves something I've never seen elsewhere: compassionate revulsion.

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Remembrances
12:15 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Ray Bradbury: 'It's Lack That Gives Us Inspiration'

"I'd like to come back every 50 years and see how we can use certain technological advantages to our advantage," said science-fiction author Ray Bradbury. He died Tuesday at age 91.
Steve Castillo AP

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 2:27 pm

This interview was originally broadcast in 1988.

Ray Bradbury didn't like negative people. The science-fiction writer and author of Fahrenheit 451 told Terry Gross in 1988 that he found out about negative people in fourth grade, shortly after his classmates started making fun of him for collecting Buck Rogers comic strips.

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Poetry
12:15 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Natasha Trethewey: 'Poetry's Always A Kind Of Faith'

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 1:39 pm

Portions of this interview were originally broadcast on July 16, 2007, Jan. 20, 2009 and Aug. 18, 2010.

This week, the Library of Congress announced that Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Native Guard, will be the next poet laureate of the United States.

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Food
12:38 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Assessing Consumer Concerns About The Meat Industry

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu June 7, 2012 2:58 pm

On Thursday's Fresh Air, Tom Philpott, who covers food and the agricultural industry for Mother Jones, joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross for a wide-ranging discussion about the meat and poultry industries — covering topics like pink slime, proposed legislation affecting antibiotics in the livestock food chain,

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Music Reviews
12:38 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

Paying Tribute To San Francisco DJ Cheb I Sabbah

Cheb i Sabbah.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 8:53 am

Cheb i Sabbah's life traces an almost fairy-tale perfect path through the evolution of what's now called world music. Born in Algeria in 1947, he absorbed the Judeo-Arabic Andalusian music of his local culture before he joined the '60s rebellion and became a 17-year-old DJ playing soul 45s in Paris. By the end of the decade, he'd moved to New York and become friends with trumpeter Don Cherry, famous for his association with Ornette Coleman and a pioneer in the concept of multicultural music.

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Music Reviews
11:43 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Making Music From Messy Relationships With 'Kin'

The new album Kin is a collaboration between author Mary Karr and singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell.
Deborah Feingold

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 11:08 am

It's not unusual for poets to try their hands at pop music-making. Patti Smith was a poet before she was a rock star. In recent years, print-poets such as David Berman and Wyn Cooper have put out more-than-credible song collections. But Mary Karr, known more for prize-winning memoirs such as The Liars Club and Lit than for her excellent poetry, has taken a high-profile risk that's paid off.

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Book Reviews
11:36 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Brit Wit Meets Manor Mystery In 'Uninvited Guests'

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 11:08 am

A dark and stormy night; an isolated manor house; a knock at the door. These are the surefire elements that have kept Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap creaking continuously on the London stage ever since its premiere in 1952. And these are the very same elements that make Sadie Jones' new novel, The Uninvited Guests, such a delicious romp to read.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview

Neil Young.
Danny Clinch

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 11:08 am

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest project — their first together in nine years — is an album featuring American folk songs and the tunes many of us learned as children, performed with grit, wit and a whole lot of electric guitar.

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Music Reviews
12:40 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Tracing The Evolution Of Lost Chicago Jazz

Mike Reed's People, Places and Things.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 3:29 pm

Drummer Mike Reed put together his quartet People, Places and Things to play music by their 1950s forebears. But it makes sense that, after a few years together, they'd also play later pieces, tracking the evolution of Chicago jazz on a new album titled Clean on the Corner. One dividend of their repertory work is that it inspires Reed to write his own tunes in the same spirit, like "The Lady Has a Bomb."

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Around the Nation
12:37 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

How Louisiana Became The World's 'Prison Capital'

In the past two decades, Louisiana's prison population has doubled.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 2:07 pm

A new expose by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans calls Louisiana the "world's prison capital."

The state imprisons more people per capita than any other state or country in the world, with one out of every 86 adults behind bars. Its rate of incarceration is three times higher than Iran's and 10 times higher than Germany's.

How did Louisiana double its prison population in the past 20 years? And what differentiates it from other states?

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Economy
12:37 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Growing Economic Inequality 'Endangers Our Future'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 2:45 pm

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz grew up in Gary, Ind. — a city that has weathered many economic storms over the past half-century.

Stiglitz went on to study at Amherst College and MIT, where he received a Ph.D. in economics. He later served on and chaired President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and became the chief economist at the World Bank. But even as a child, Stiglitz says, he noticed ways in which the markets weren't working.

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National Security
11:59 am
Mon June 4, 2012

'Obama's Secret Wars' Against America's Threats

Originally published on Tue June 5, 2012 12:51 pm

Last week, The New York Times reported that Stuxnet, the computer worm that infected computers around the world in 2010, was developed by the United States in conjunction with Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear centrifuges.

"It appears to be the first time the United States has repeatedly used cyberweapons to cripple another country's infrastructure, achieving, with computer code, what until then could be accomplished only by bombing a country or sending in agents to plant explosives," wrote David Sanger, the paper's chief Washington correspondent.

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NPR Story
12:27 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend

Fresh Air weekend

Music Reviews
11:40 am
Fri June 1, 2012

Diamond Rugs: Carefully Constructed Drinking Tunes

Diamond Rugs.
Amie Ledford

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 1:11 pm

Diamond Rugs is one those bands that wants you to think it prizes spontaneity and sloppy good fun more than careful song construction and technical polish. And the album, also titled Diamond Rugs, almost succeeds in convincing you of its sloppy aesthetic, dispensing songs about drinking and carousing only to be left morose, in one's cups.

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Author Interviews
11:13 am
Fri June 1, 2012

A Memoir About Mothers, Memory And Loss

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 11:40 am

This interview was originally broadcast on January 11, 2011.

Writer Mira Bartok was 40 years old when a semi-trailer hurled into her car on the New York Thruway. The force of the accident whipped the inside of her brain against her skull, causing what's known as coup contrecoup, a type of traumatic brain injury that for Bartok, affected both her long- and short-term memory.

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Movie Reviews
10:41 am
Fri June 1, 2012

A 'Snow White' As Bleak As It Is Grimm

Charlize Theron plays Queen Ravenna, who literally sucks the life out of female prisoners to keep herself looking young and vibrant.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Fri June 1, 2012 6:09 pm

The ads for Snow White and the Huntsman show a glum Kristen Stewart dressed for battle, obviously playing the huntsman. Hold the phone, she's Snow White. Another storybook heroine turned warrior! Just like the princess in this year's first Snow White picture, Mirror Mirror, who not only goes mano a mano with her patronizing, patriarchal prince, but tells him she's sick of stories in which damsels take their distress lying down.

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