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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.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Our guest is Willie Nelson, who at age 86, has a summer tour and a new album. We'll listen back to two of Terry's conversations with Willie Nelson, but let's start with our rock critic Ken Tucker and his review of Willie Nelson's new album. It's called "Ride Me Back Home," and Ken says Nelson sounds vigorous and upbeat on an album about aging and the passage of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COME ON TIME")

Sarah Jessica Parker has spent much of her acting career exploring what it means to be in a relationship — and to be single. In the HBO series Sex and the City, which ran from 1998 until 2004, she played Carrie Bradshaw, a single writer chronicling her experiences with the Manhattan dating scene. Now, in the HBO comedy series, Divorce, she stars as Frances, a mother of two navigating the dissolution of her marriage.

Today, antiretroviral medicines allow people with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to live long, productive lives. But at the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, the disease was considered a death sentence. No one was sure what caused it or how it was spread. Some doctors and nurses refused to treat patients with the disease; others protected themselves by wearing full body suits.

In the semi-autobiographical Hulu series Ramy, comic Ramy Youssef plays a first-generation Muslim American who follows some — but not all — of the rules of his religion. Youssef, whose parents immigrated from Egypt, also co-created the series. He says he can relate to his character's "picking and choosing" approach to his faith.

As she grew up as a third-generation Jehovah's Witness, there were certain things Amber Scorah did not question.

When, as a teenager, the community shunned her and prevented her from participating in her father's funeral, she accepted it as appropriate punishment for having sex with her boyfriend. Rather than pulling away at that time, Scorah doubled down.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest, Bill Hader, became famous as a performer and writer on "Saturday Night Live" for his original characters like Stefon and his impressions of people like Vincent Price. Now Hader stars in the HBO series "Barry," which he co-created, co-writes, and he serves as one of the directors. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on demand, and the show's been renewed for a third. Last year, after Season 1, Hader won the Emmy for best lead actor in a comedy series.

Dr. Louise Aronson says the U.S. doesn't have nearly enough geriatricians — physicians devoted to the health and care of older people: "There may be maybe six or seven thousand geriatricians," she says. "Compare that to the membership of the pediatric society, which is about 70,000."

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Christina Applegate describes grief as "completely messy and unexpected and unapologetic." At least that's the way it's portrayed in her new Netflix series, Dead To Me.

The show, which has been described as a "traumedy" (a trauma-infused comedy/drama), centers on two women who meet in a grief support group. Applegate's character, Jen, is dealing with the loss of her husband, who was killed in a hit-and-run car accident.

Editor's note: This story includes graphic descriptions of an alleged sexual assault.

In November 2000, Jim DeRogatis, then music critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, received an anonymous fax in response to a review of he'd written of R&B star R. Kelly's album TP-2.com. The fax, DeRogatis says, read:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Climate change is affecting the weather. And droughts, floods, storms and unseasonal temperatures are affecting the global food supply. Tech startups, as well as mega companies, are developing new, high-tech ways of growing vegetables and fruits, farming fish and growing meat without harming animals.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Tony Horwitz died Monday unexpectedly at the age of 60. He was in the middle of a book tour promoting his new book, "Spying On The South." He's survived by his wife, the journalist Geraldine Brooks, and their two sons. Before becoming a full-time author, Tony Horwitz covered wars and conflicts in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq for The Wall Street Journal. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for his stories about working conditions in low-wage America.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. It's a long way from a shtetl in Eastern Europe to an apartment in Greenwich Village in miles and in the shape of daily life. That's the story told in the new book "Sara Berman's Closet," a collaboration between children's book author and illustrator Maira Kalman and her son Alex Kalman, a designer and founder of the exhibition space called Mmuseumm.

As colleges and universities across the country report an explosion of mental health problems, a new book argues that college life may be more stressful than ever. Dr. Anthony Rostain, co-author of The Stressed Years of Their Lives, notes that today's college students are experiencing an "inordinate amount of anxiety" — much of it centered on "surviving college and doing well."

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Lizzo was in fifth grade when it came time to choose instruments for band. The choice was made for her when the music teacher paired her with the flute.

It turned out to be a good match: The singer and rapper fell in love with the instrument and went on to pursue a degree in music performance and music theory with the hopes of becoming a professional flutist. "I saw a life of concert black and Boston Pops and traveling the world," Lizzo says. "When that didn't pan out for me, I was very depressed."

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. There's no cure for dementia, and there's unlikely to be one in the foreseeable future, which is why my guest, Dr. Tia Powell, is focusing on questions like, how can we devise a viable strategy to pay for long-term care? How do we preserve dignity? How do we balance freedom and safety? What is a good death for someone with dementia? And how do we help people who are losing their memory find some joy?

Cult filmmaker and self-described "filth elder" John Waters, 73, has plenty of ideas about what older people should and shouldn't do.

The worst thing, he says, is to get a convertible: "Because believe me, old age and windswept do not go hand in hand. It's really a bad look! You can't be trying too hard to rebel [when] you're older."

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today's guest, Stephen McCauley, is the author of the novel titled "My Ex-Life," which just came out in paperback. When it was first published in 2018, our book critic Maureen Corrigan described it as a smart comedy of manners about McCauley's signature subject - namely, the disconnect between erotic desire and intimacy and the screwball paths that people take on the way to finally arriving home.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Howard Stern described my interview with him as exhausting. We talked a long time because there was so much to talk about - too much to fit in one show. Yesterday we heard Part 1. Today we have Part 2 of my interview with Howard Stern. The occasion for the interview is the publication of his new book collecting some of his favorite interviews from his Sirius XM radio show. The book is called "Howard Stern Comes Again." Let's pick up where we left off yesterday.

So we were talking about...

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. We're going to listen back to the interview I was lucky enough to record with Doris Day, who stayed out of the public eye for decades after giving up her movie career. She died Monday at the age of 97. As film critic Carrie Rickey wrote in her obituary for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Doris Day was beloved for her popular songs, films and wholesomeness. It's hard to name another figure whose sunny persona was so at odds with her stormy life.

Looking back on his early career, Howard Stern remembers being "petrified" that he wasn't going to be able to make a living. "All the sexual antics, the religious antics, the race antics — everything that I talked about, every outrageous thing that I did — was to entertain my audience and grow my audience," he says. "Whether you liked it or not, or the person down the street liked it or not — I didn't care as long as I kept growing that audience."

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