Fresh Air on AM 870 NewsTalk

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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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Author Interviews
11:43 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Habits: How They Form And How To Break Them

Routines are made up of a three-part "habit loop": a cue, a behavior and a reward. Understanding and interrupting that loop is key to breaking a habit, says journalist Charles Duhigg.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 5, 2012 1:46 pm

Think about something it took you a really long time to learn, like how to parallel park. At first, parallel parking was difficult and you had to devote a lot of mental energy to it. But after you grew comfortable with parallel parking, it became much easier — almost habitual, you could say.

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Fresh Air Weekend
1:56 am
Sat March 3, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Being Flynn,' Barry Blitt

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
11:25 am
Fri March 2, 2012

'The Lorax': A Campy And Whimsical Seussical

The Once-ler (voiced by Ed Helms) and the Lorax (Danny DeVito) are surrounded by bar-ba-loots in Truffula Valley in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.
Universal Pictures

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 1:02 pm

At the far end of town
Where the Grickle-grass grows
And the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows
And no birds ever sing excepting old crows ...
Is the Street of the Lifted Lorax.

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Author Interviews
11:22 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Frank Calabrese Jr. On Opening His 'Family Secrets'

This interview was originally broadcast on March 14, 2011. Operation Family Secrets is now available in paperback.

When Frank Calabrese Jr. was a teenager, his father came home one night and took him into the bathroom for a chat.

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Television
11:57 am
Thu March 1, 2012

It's High Concept, But Will It Keep You 'Awake'?

In the new NBC drama Awake, Jason Issacs plays Michael Britten, a man who survives a car accident along with one of his loved ones — but which one?
Michael Desmond NBC

The premise of NBC's new detective series, Awake, is about as high concept as it gets. Jason Isaacs, one of the leads of Showtime's Brotherhood, stars as Michael Britten, who survives a horrible car crash intact. Well, his body is intact — but his mind, or at least his subconscious, is split.

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Music Reviews
8:22 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Hugh Masekela: Wedding Songs That Don't Sound Blue

Hugh Masekela.
courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 8:50 am

In 1968, Hugh Masekela was not quite 30 years old and though he was in exile from his homeland of South Africa, he seemed ready to become at home on the American jazz and pop markets. That summer, he had scored a number one single, "Grazing in the Grass." A year earlier, he'd been one of the few international performers at the 1967 Monterrey International Pop Festival and had appeared in its D.A. Pennebaker documentary. Yet strangely enough, over the next 45 years Masekela never quite found his sweet spot.

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Movie Interviews
11:50 am
Wed February 29, 2012

'Being Flynn': When Dad Needs To Take Shelter

Robert De Niro (left) plays Jonathan Flynn, the father of writer Nick Flynn (played by Paul Dano) who shows up at his son's workplace: a homeless shelter.
David Lee Focus Features

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 1:24 pm

Writer Nick Flynn was working in a homeless shelter in his 20s when his father — an alcoholic and self-proclaimed writer who left when Flynn was a baby — showed up as a client. Flynn wrote about the experience in his 2004 memoir, Another Bulls- - - Night in Suck City.

That story is now a movie called Being Flynn, starring Paul Dano as the young Nick Flynn and Robert De Niro as his father, Jonathan.

Flynn and Paul Weitz, the film's director, tell Fresh Air's Dave Davies that the film boils down to a few important themes.

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Book Reviews
12:16 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

China On The Court: NBA Meets The 'Brave Dragons'

iStockPhoto.com

"Linsanity" is the magical byword of this basketball season. As anyone who is even semi-conscious knows, Jeremy Lin, the NBA's first Taiwanese-American player by way of Harvard, was passed over for college athletic scholarships and ignored in NBA drafts. Then, he landed with the New York Knicks and has since proved to everybody that athletic prejudice against Asians is Lincredibly stupid. Except, as journalist Jim Yardley points out in his new book on basketball fever in China, Chinese players and coaches happen to endorse that prejudice.

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Author Interviews
8:08 am
Mon February 27, 2012

'Tinderbox': How The West Fueled The AIDS Epidemic

Craig Timberg is the former Johannesburg bureau chief of The Washington Post. He is current the deputy national security editor at the Post.
Bill O'Leary The Washington Post

Originally published on Tue February 28, 2012 10:16 am

HIV is a slow-moving time bomb.

Unlike Ebola, which infects and kills people quickly — and then disappears just as quickly — the HIV epidemic has become so good at killing people in part because it moves so very slowly, says journalist Craig Timberg.

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Fresh Air Weekend
9:41 am
Sat February 25, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Catherine Russell, Bret McKenzie

The cast of The Muppets includes (left to right) Floyd Pepper, Fozzie Bear, Lew Zealand, Janice, Swedish Chef, Camilla The Chicken, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Gonzo, Scooter and Beaker.
Scott Garfield Disney

Originally published on Sat February 25, 2012 9:43 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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Television
12:24 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

25 Years Later, 'The Singing Detective' Still Shines

Gambon's character slips in and out of feverish dreams in which his doctors and nurses start to sing and dance.
BBC

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 2:15 pm

The Singing Detective is the story of a writer of pulp-fiction novels, hospitalized for a horrible skin condition that has his entire body flaking and raw, and his mind slipping in and out of fever dreams.

Some of those hallucinations have the people around him breaking into song, or shifting into other places and times and characters, or both. He tries to maintain his sanity by rewriting, in his head, one of his old novels into a Hollywood screenplay — and, in his mind, he's the healthy, good-looking protagonist — the singing detective.

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Movie Reviews
11:43 am
Fri February 24, 2012

'Wanderlust': A Zany Blast From The Communal Past

Orange You Glad We Wound Up Here? George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) play an unemployed Manhattan couple who stumble into a hippie farming commune whose denizens include characters played by Justin Theroux and Alan Alda.
Gemma La Mana Universal PIctures

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 2:15 pm

In sophisticated comedy, what's funny is the tension between proper manners and the nasty or sexy subtext. Whereas in low comedy, there are no manners, and the nasty or sexy subtext is right there on the surface.

And then there's Wanderlust, in which the subtext is blasted through megaphones — the characters say so insanely much you want to scream. The satire is as broad as a battleship and equally bombarding. But it takes guts to do a comedy this big without gross-out slapstick, and the writers and the actors are all in.

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Movie Interviews
11:34 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Dustin Lance Black: Telling The Story Of 'J. Edgar'

Leonardo DiCaprio plays J. Edgar Hoover in J. Edgar, a biopic written by Dustin Lance Black.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 2:15 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Dec. 6, 2011.

In the first part of his career, J. Edgar Hoover was often hailed as a hero. As a young man, he helped reorganize the cataloging system at the Library of Congress. Later on, after Hoover became the first director of the FBI, he introduced fingerprinting and forensic techniques to the crime-fighting agency, and pushed for stronger federal laws to punish criminals who strayed across state lines.

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Remembrances
10:24 am
Fri February 24, 2012

Barney Rosset: A Crusader Against Censorship Laws

Barney Rosset paid $3,000 for Grove Press in 1951. Then he used the company to help tear down American obscenity laws of the 1950s and '60s.
Jim Cooper AP

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 2:15 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Apr. 9, 1991.

Publisher Barney Rosset, who championed the works of beat poets and defied censors, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Rosset's Grove Press published some of drama's most famous names — including Beckett and Anton Chekhov — and was known for printing books that other publishers wouldn't touch, from uncensored versions of Lady Chatterley's Lover and Tropic of Cancer to a highly profitable line of Victorian spanking porn.

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Politics
11:00 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Examining The SuperPAC With Colbert's Trevor Potter

Originally published on Thu February 23, 2012 1:19 pm

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. SuperPACs have led to what was described in the New York Times yesterday as a new breed of super-donor. About two dozen individuals, couples or corporations have given a million dollars or more this year to Republican superPACs that have poured that money directly into this year's presidential campaign.

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Politics
11:00 am
Thu February 23, 2012

Understanding The Impact Of Citizens United

James Bopp is the lawyer who first represented Citizens United in the case that ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled that corporations and unions could give money to political committees active in election campaigns. That decision and subsequent lower court decisions have led to SuperPACs, which allow corporations, unions and individuals to make unlimited contributions, pool them together, and use the money for political campaigns.

Movie Reviews
10:53 am
Wed February 22, 2012

After 'Putin's Kiss,' A Young Girl's Change Of Heart

The documentary Putin's Kiss charts four years in the life of Masha Drokova, who became famous as the girl who publicly kissed Vladimir Putin.
Courtesy of the filmmaker

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The Fresh Air Interview
12:19 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Catherine Russell: The Fresh Air In-Studio Concert

Catherine Russell.
Stefan Falke

Blues and jazz singer Catherine Russell says she frequently listens to the radio while washing dishes. One night, she was by the sink listening to a Chick Webb compilation when Ella Fitzgerald's "Under the Spell of the Blues" came on. The song struck her.

"The lyric came on, and it was just a beautiful story, and then I [was] compelled to learn the tune, and then I learned about everything surrounding it," she says.

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Music Reviews
11:31 am
Tue February 21, 2012

'Barchords': An Intense, Pensive Album About Love

Afie Jurvanen
Dave Gillespie All Eyes Media

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 10:54 am

The song "I Got You Babe," on Bahamas' new album, Barchords, is obviously not Sonny and Cher's "I Got You Babe." This version is an original song the Canadian singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen, who records under the stage name Bahamas, has written about holding and losing someone.

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Author Interviews
12:01 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

'New Yorker' Cartoonist Imagines Washington At 7

Through his many New Yorker covers, Barry Blitt has become one of the pre-eminent satirical cartoonists of America's recent presidents. He is probably best known for his controversial 2008 cover of Michelle and Barack Obama, dressed as a Muslim and a militant with an AK-47, fist-bumping in the Oval Office.

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Music Interviews
2:53 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Bret McKenzie: A Very Manly Muppet [Extended Cut]

Bret McKenzie (left) wrote five of the songs in The Muppets, including the Oscar-nominated "Man or Muppet" and the opening number, "Life's a Happy Song."
Andrew Macpherson Disney

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Fresh Air Weekend
2:36 am
Sat February 18, 2012

Fresh Air Weekend: Viola Davis, Nathan Englander

Viola Davis earned her first Oscar nomination with a small but memorable role in Doubt; she also has won a pair of Tony Awards for her work on Broadway.
Chris Pizzello AP

Originally published on Mon February 20, 2012 12:48 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:

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Movie Interviews
9:59 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Michelle Williams: The Fresh Air Interview

Actress Michelle Williams was recently nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Blue Valentine. In Meek's Cutoff, she plays a bold settler named Emily Tetherow.
Matt Sayles AP Photo

This interview was originally broadcast on April 14, 2011. Michelle Williams just received a Best Actress nomination for her performance in My Week With Marilyn.

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Movie Reviews
4:08 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

A Veteran's 'Return' To The Front Lines Of Home

Linda Cardellini plays a vet who returns from overseas with no way to make sense of where she was and what it meant in director Liza Johnson's new drama Return.
Dada Films

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 1:36 pm

The coming-home genre is so rife with stock ingredients that first I'd like to tell you what Liza Johnson's very fine drama Return doesn't do. The camera doesn't move in on returning-veteran Kelli, played by Linda Cardellini, as the sound of battle rises and she's back in her head on the front lines. The film doesn't give you what I call the "psychodrama striptease," in which a past trauma is revealed piece by piece until you're finally, at the end, shown the essential bit.

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Theater
11:48 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Stephen Sondheim: Examining His Lyrics And Life

Sondheim, shown here in 1974, won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Sunday in the Park with George. He has also received eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy awards and a Kennedy Center Honor.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Stephen Sondheim's 1981 musical Merrily We Roll Along is in the middle of a two-week run at the New York City Center as part of an Encores! Production. Portions of the interview running today were originally broadcast on April 21, 2010 and Oct. 28, 2010.

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Author Interviews
11:26 am
Wed February 15, 2012

Nathan Englander: Assimilating Thoughts Into Stories

Nathan Englander grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He now splits his time between New York and Madison, Wis.
Juliana Sohn

The stories in Nathan Englander's new collection are based largely on his experiences growing up as a modern Orthodox Jew with an overprotective mother.

In What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Englander writes about his own faith — and what it means to be Jewish — in stories that explore religious tension, Israeli-American relations and the Holocaust.

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Book Reviews
11:01 am
Wed February 15, 2012

More Than Melancholy: 'In-Flight' Stories Soar

Random House

The Brits: You've got to hand it to them. The Empire may be long gone, but they still reign supreme when it comes to effortlessly exuding mordant wit. For anyone who savors the acerbic literary likes of Evelyn Waugh or the Amises, father and son, Helen Simpson is just the ticket.

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Author Interviews
11:20 am
Tue February 14, 2012

The History Of The FBI's Secret 'Enemies' List

J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of the FBI. He introduced fingerprinting and forensic techniques to the crime-fighting agency, and pushed for stronger federal laws to punish criminals who strayed across state lines. He also kept secret files on more than 20,000 Americans he deemed "subversive."
Anonymous Library of Congress

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 12:16 pm

Four years after Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tim Weiner published Legacy of Ashes, his detailed history of the CIA, he received a call from a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

"He said, 'I've just gotten my hands on a Freedom of Information Act request that's 26 years old for [FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover's intelligence files. Would you like them?' " Weiner tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And after a stunned silence, I said, 'Yes, yes.' "

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Movie Interviews
12:09 pm
Mon February 13, 2012

Viola Davis: The Fresh Air Interview

Minny (Octavia Spencer) and Aibileen (Davis) are two domestics who team up with a writer to break the code of silence about the conditions they work under in 1960s Mississippi.
Dale Robinette Dreamworks Pictures

Actress Viola Davis has been nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the maid Aibileen in the film The Help, set in 1960s Mississippi. But not everyone has applauded the film, which has been criticized for its portrayal of black domestic servants in the civil rights era.

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Music Interviews
11:34 am
Mon February 13, 2012

'Conchords': Musical Comedy from Clueless Kiwis

Jemaine Clement (left) and Bret McKenzie: Witty musical parodists play witless musicians in Flight of the Conchords.
HBO

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 11:29 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on June 14, 2007. You can listen to the complete interview with Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie here.

Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, aka the folk-parody band Flight of the Conchords, hail from New Zealand. They were named best alternative-comedy act at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.

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