Fresh Air

Weekdays at 3 pm
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

For complete program information, visit the official Fresh Air website here.

About Fresh Air:

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns.

U.S. intelligence officials announced last week that they had broken up a plan by al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen to blow up a plane headed toward the United States.

U.S. officials are aggressively targeting terrorists in Yemen, which is now considered to be "the greatest external threat facing the U.S. homeland in terms of terrorism," says investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill.

Many fans will be disappointed that Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator is a more or less conventional comedy and not an ambush-interview mockumentary in the style of Borat and Bruno. But that guerrilla-clown shtick would be tough to sustain: Why not let him try something else? The good news is that The Dictator is loose and slap-happy and full of sharp political barbs and has funny actors moving in and out — and at a lickety-split 83 minutes, it doesn't wear out its welcome.

When writer Florence Williams was nursing her second child, she read a research study about toxins found in human breast milk. She decided to test her own breast milk and shipped a sample to a lab in Germany.

What came back surprised her.

Trace amounts of pesticides, dioxin and a jet fuel ingredient — as well as high to average levels of flame retardants — were all found in her breast milk. How could something like this happen?

Audra McDonald has starred in stage classics and on TV, where she played a leading role on the ABC drama Private Practice for four seasons. But the actress might be better known for her stunning voice and for her performances in the Broadway productions of Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, which helped her rack up three Tony Awards before the age of 30. She won a fourth Tony for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun, putting her in the company of Broadway greats Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Horst Faas, who captured several iconic moments during the Vietnam War, died May 10. He was 79.

Haas was the chief of The Associated Press' Southeast Asia bureau from 1962 to 1974, where he covered the fighting and mentored dozens of young photographers who were sent out across Vietnam to capture images of the war's terror and inhumanity.

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:

Lena Dunham Addresses Criticism Aimed At 'Girls': The creator and star of HBO's new series Girls addresses the growing backlash against the show, which follows four 20-somethings as they navigate the ups and downs of life in New York City.

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the day Fresh Air became a daily national NPR program. Before that, the show was broadcast only on WHYY in Philadelphia. How long ago was May 11, 1987? On Fresh Air's first edition, TV critic David Bianculli reviewed the finale of the TV series Hill Street Blues.

Two score and four years ago, I'd fly home from fourth grade for the 4 p.m. broadcast of Dark Shadows. In 1968, vampires and werewolves weren't mainstream — the era's horror films mostly played drive-ins — yet here on TV was a daily horror soap opera.

Author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, whose classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are became a perennial and award-winning favorite for generations of children, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Sendak appeared on Fresh Air with Terry Gross several times over the years. In 1989, he told Terry Gross that he didn't ever write with children in mind — but that somehow what he wrote turned out to be for children nonetheless.

Adam "MCA" Yauch, one of the founding members of the Beastie Boys, died Friday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 47.

With his raspy voice, Yauch started making music with Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) when they were all teenagers in New York City in the early 1980s. The Beastie Boys started out as a punk band, but in 1987, the group released Licensed to Ill, the first hop-hop album to reach No. 1 on the pop charts.

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:

The movie Rhapsody in Blue, a biography of George Gershwin, was released only eight years after his death from a brain tumor at the age of 38. It's a good subject: Gershwin wrote some of the best popular songs ever produced in this country, but he also had ambitions to be a serious classical composer and wrote symphonic music, concertos and an opera — all of which are still performed.

This interview was originally broadcast on May 9, 2011. In The Garden Of Beasts is now available in paperback.

Two spheres merge in The Avengers: the Marvel Comics universe and the Whedonverse, fans' name for the nerdy wisecracking existentialist superhero world of writer-director Joss Whedon.

The Whedon cult is smaller but maybe more fervent, inspiring academic conferences on such subjects as free will vs. determinism in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I find a lot of Whedon's banter self-consciously smart-alecky, but I love how he can spoof his subjects without robbing them of stature.

There continues to be a lot of talk about gender bias in the book industry. The core argument goes that, while both male and female authors write novels about relationships and the domestic sphere, when a woman does so her books are relegated to "chic lit," and when a man (like Jonathan Franzen) does, he's lauded for serious literary achievement.

A year ago Tuesday, Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces inside a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. When President Obama announced the news, he called the death of bin Laden "the most significant achievement to date" in the war against al-Qaida.

I have to hand it to the Putumayo label. Since it started as a soundtrack-provider to a clothing store in the early '90s, the operation has placed racks of CDs with friendly-primitivist art by Nicola Heindl into Starbucks and Whole Foods everywhere. Putumayo is as responsible as anything for making music buyers ask "Where's the world music section?" in shops or online.

When Sissy Spacek started her film career, she was told to lose her heavy Texas accent. But her famous drawl became one of her greatest assets when Terrence Malick cast her in his 1973 crime drama Badlands.

Spacek played Holly, a teenage girl from South Dakota who became an accomplice on a cross-country murder spree. The film, which also starred Martin Sheen, was narrated in Spacek's distinctive Southern voice.

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:

This interview was originally broadcast on August 11, 2011. To End All Wars is now available in paperback.

The human cost of World War I was enormous. More than 9 million soldiers and an estimated 12 million civilians died in the four-year-long conflict, which also left 21 million military men wounded.

There are many dramas and comedies in which career trajectories take couples to different corners of the country, complicating or ending romantic relationships. There will be many more, at least until someone invents a teleportation machine. What's different about each work is how the problem gets interpreted.

Howlin' Wolf's masters from the Chess label have just been released on a four-disc set titled Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters 1931-1960.

"Difficult" is probably the most tactful word one could use in characterizing Lillian Hellman. If ever there were an author safer to meet through her art rather than in real life, she was the one. Born in New Orleans into a Jewish family, Hellman came of age in the Roaring '20s, liberated by flappers and Freud. Hellman drank like a fish, swore like a sailor and slept around like, well, like most of the men in her literary circle, chief among them Dashiell Hammett, with whom she had an open relationship spanning three decades. She was, recalled one observer, a "tough broad ...

Actor Jack Black is best known for his comedic performances in films like Nacho Libre and School of Rock. In his latest film, Bernie, Black goes to a darker place: He plays a serious small-town funeral director who uncharacteristically murders his live-in companion, a wealthy widow played by Shirley MacLaine.

Todd Snider is, on one level, your average guitar-strumming singer-songwriter with varying amounts of musical accompaniment for songs he sings with mush-mouthed intimacy. But Snider, now in his mid-40s and impressively prolific, is also an exceptional singer-songwriter, able to set up scenes with quick, precise details.

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:

Levon Helm, the longtime drummer of The Band who backed Bob Dylan and sang with Van Morrison, died Thursday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 71.

The Farrelly brothers have long been known for their gross-out humor and their shocking comedies. After writing and directing movies like Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, There's Something About Mary and Shallow Hal -- where agreeable idiots get caught up in all sorts of trouble — Peter and Bobby Farrelly decided to tackle another set of goofy doofuses: The Three Stooges.

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