Terry Gross | Texas Public Radio

Terry Gross

Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gross, who has been host of Fresh Air since 1975, when it was broadcast only in greater Philadelphia, isn't afraid to ask tough questions. But Gross sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrendering them. What often puts those guests at ease is Gross' understanding of their work. "Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private," Gross says. "But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood."

Gross began her radio career in 1973 at public radio station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. There she hosted and produced several arts, women's and public affairs programs, including This Is Radio, a live, three-hour magazine program that aired daily. Two years later, she joined the staff of WHYY-FM in Philadelphia as producer and host of Fresh Air, then a local, daily interview and music program. In 1985, WHYY-FM launched a weekly half-hour edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which was distributed nationally by NPR. Since 1987, a daily, one-hour national edition of Fresh Air has been produced by WHYY-FM. The program is broadcast on 566 stations and became the first non-drive time show in public radio history to reach more than five million listeners each week in fall 2008, a presidential election season. In fall 2011, Fresh Air reached 4.4 million listeners a week.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross has received a number of awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 1994 for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insight." America Women in Radio and Television presented Gross with a Gracie Award in 1999 in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, she received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award for her "outstanding contributions to public radio" and for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." In 2007, Gross received the Literarian Award. In 2011, she received the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.

Gross is the author of All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, published by Hyperion in 2004.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gross received a bachelor's degree in English and M.Ed. in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Gross was recognized with the Columbia Journalism Award from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Princeton University in 2002. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 and Doctor of Humane Letters in 2007, both from SUNY–Buffalo. She also received a Doctor of Letters from Haverford College in 1998 and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Drexel University in 1989.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Linda Ronstadt is the subject of a new documentary that opened today called "Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice." We're going to listen back to the interview I recorded with her in 2013, a month after she revealed that she had Parkinson's disease and could no longer sing. The disease had ended her singing career years before it was diagnosed.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. I don't know about you, but I've been really confused lately about how and what I should be recycling. And I'm confused about what happens to my recycling after it's carted away. I'm referring to plastics and paper as well as electronics, including old phones and computers. We used to ship a lot of our waste to China for recycling. But recently, China stopped taking it. Now what? What are governments doing and what is industry doing to deal with the problem of waste?

When fashion designer Tan France got the call to audition for the Netflix makeover series Queer Eye, his initial reaction was to say no. France, the gay son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, didn't want to take on the burden of representing his community — especially on television.

"The thought of being one of the very first openly gay South Asian men on a major show. ... That pressure was so hard to handle," he says. "The pressure of being one of the first to do something is massively stressful."

During the early period of the Cold War, the CIA became convinced that communists had discovered a drug or technique that would allow them to control human minds. In response, the CIA began its own secret program, called MK-ULTRA, to search for a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.

TERRY GROSS, BYLINE: From WHYY in Philadelphia, this is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE DEUCE")

MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL: (As Candy) I want to learn how to make movies.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. We're going to conclude our series of interviews with current Emmy nominees with the creators and stars of the Hulu series "PEN15," Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. They're nominated in the category outstanding writing in a comedy series. "PEN15" is about the middle-school years, one of the most awkward periods of life. I don't know if many people would want to go back and revisit those years, but that's kind of what Erskine and Konkle did. They're both in their early 30s. But in "PEN15," set in the year 2000, they play seventh-grade versions of themselves.

TERRY GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Today we conclude our series of interviews with Emmy nominees. The award ceremony is Sunday September 22. The Netflix animated series "BoJack Horseman" is nominated for Outstanding Animated Program. Our first interview today is with the creator of "BoJack Horseman," Raphael Bob-Waksberg. He's also the showrunner and a writer on the series. "BoJack Horseman" satirizes Hollywood and deals with issues like success and failure, ego, power, addiction, relationships and sexism.

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