Fresh Air

Weekdays at Noon

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.

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Music Interviews
10:03 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Jherek Bischoff Crafts A Symphonic Sound On 'Composed'

Jherek Bischoff's new album is titled Composed.
Angel Ceballos Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 12:05 pm

For years, Jherek Bischoff has played in indie-rock bands, including Amanda Palmer's Grand Theft Orchestra. But on his new album, Composed, he found himself moving away from a rock sound and writing his own orchestral arrangements.

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Movie Reviews
9:57 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Going 'Mental' And Enjoying The Ride

Shaz (Toni Collette), a hotheaded stranger new to the Australian town of Dolphin Heads, becomes the unlikely answer to a local politician's problems when she steps in to nanny his children.
Dada Films

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 12:39 pm

Mental is madder than madcap. I heard one critic sniff, "It's kind of broad" — and, Your Honor, the defense agrees! But if broad means "unsubtle," it doesn't have to mean "unreal." Mental makes most other movies seem boringly, misleadingly sane.

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Author Interviews
12:12 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

The 'Alchemists' Who Control The Purse Strings Of The Economy

Cover of The Alchemists

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 1:03 pm

As the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the financial crash, and Europe is buffeted by a series of banking crises, attention has focused on the presidents and prime ministers who've tried to cope with it all. Journalist Neil Irwin, an economics writer for The Washington Post, says there's an elite group of policymakers who can make enormously important decisions on their own, often deliberating in secret, and in many ways unaccountable to voters.

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Remembrances
12:12 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Remembering David Kuo: Refocusing Religious Groups On Faith

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. David Kuo died Friday of brain cancer at the age of 44. We're going to hear an excerpt of my interview with him. When President Bush created the office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2001, Kuo, a conservative, evangelical Christian, became its deputy director. When he left the office in 2003, he accused the Bush administration of manipulating conservative Christians to get the Christian vote.

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat April 6, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Mary Roach, 'Mad Men,' Ty Burr And Marriage

Mad Men returns with a two-hour season premiere. TV critic David Bianculli won't reveal any spoilers, but he praises actor Jon Hamm, who "so sparingly and perfectly" plays Don Draper in the series.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

Originally published on Sat April 6, 2013 8:39 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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Remembrances
10:15 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Roger Ebert In Review: A 'Fresh Air' Survey

The iconic Chicago photographer Art Shay took portraits of presidents, prizefighters, prose poets — and in the person of Roger Ebert, at least one Pulitzer-winning critic.
Art Shay

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 11:10 am

Fresh Air remembers the film critic and bon vivant Roger Ebert, who died Thursday, with a roundup of interviews from our archive.

In one, from all the way back in 1984, host Terry Gross talks with Ebert alone; in a second conversation, from 1996, Terry interviews both Ebert and his late partner Gene Siskel onstage at Northwestern University.

In two very special conversations, Ebert himself interviews iconic directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

And finally, critic-at-large John Powers discusses Ebert's 2011 memoir Life Itself.

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Author Interviews
11:23 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Former Mormon Missionary Describes The Experience Of 'Elders'

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 2:47 pm

As a Mormon missionary, Ryan McIlvain spent two years ringing strangers' doorbells, even as he experienced doubts about his own faith. McIlvain left the church in his mid-20s. His debut novel, Elders, is based on the experiences he had trying to convert people to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Elder" is the term used for a young Mormon on his mission.

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Commentary
11:23 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Even Dictionaries Grapple With Getting 'Marriage' Right

Geoff Nunberg says a good definition extends to the past as well as the present: It's not just about what "marriage" has come to mean; it's all the word has ever meant.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 12:12 pm

It's a funny thing about dictionaries. First we're taught to revere them, then we have to learn to set them aside. Nobody ever went wrong starting a middle-school composition with, "According to Webster's ..." but that's not how you start an op-ed commentary about terrorism or racism. When it comes to the words that do the cultural heavy lifting, we're not about to defer to some lexicographer hunched over a dusty keyboard.

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Book Reviews
11:16 am
Wed April 3, 2013

'Burgess Boys' Family Saga Explores The Authenticity Of Imperfection

iStockphoto.com

In 1846, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a famous essay called "The Philosophy of Composition," in which he sounds like an interior decorator. I say that because in the essay, Poe insists that all good writing must strive for what he calls "unity of effect." For Poe, it was important that everything in his short stories — characters, setting, narration — add up to one big "color-me-terrified" impact.

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Author Interviews
11:09 am
Wed April 3, 2013

A Father Tells The Story Of His Son's Struggle To Stay 'Clean'

iStockphoto.com

Why do we imprison people who are addicted to illegal drugs instead of treating them for their addiction? That question is at the heart of David Sheff's new book Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. It reports the latest medical and scientific research about addiction and recovery, which, Sheff says, shows that drug addicts are gravely ill, afflicted with a chronic, progressive and often terminal disease.

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Television
11:04 am
Wed April 3, 2013

This Spring, Rejoice At Rebirth Of 'Mad Men'

We won't give away any of the details about his personal life, but we can say that the two-hour season premiere of Mad Men shows Don Draper (Jon Hamm, right, with John Slattery's Roger Sterling) as his silver tongue fails him.
Frank Ockenfels AMC

For decades, when broadcast television called the shots and dominated the TV landscape, the biggest event of the year was "the fall season," when networks would unveil their new shows and return with fresh episodes of old favorites. But now, because of cable and satellite TV, the fall season isn't the only game in town.

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World
12:46 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Hisham Matar: A 'Return' To Libya In Search Of His Father

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. My guest has often thought of his father as neither dead nor alive. Hisham Matar's family was living in Egypt, in exile from Libya, when Matar's father, a prominent opponent of the Gadhafi regime, was kidnapped, taken back to Libya and imprisoned. That was in March 1990, and it was the last time Matar saw his father.

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Music Reviews
12:46 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Kacey Musgraves: Country's Blunt And Poetic New Voice

Kacey Musgraves' "Merry Go 'Round" was one of NPR Music's favorite songs of 2012.
Kelly Christine Musgraves Courtesy of the artist

Kacey Musgraves is something of an anomaly. A Texas native in her mid-20s, she fits most easily into the contemporary "country" category, but the work she co-writes with a variety of collaborators is really a throwback to an earlier era of singer-songwriters — as much influenced by rock and folk as by country.

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Remembrances
12:03 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Listening Back To An Interview With Phil Ramone

Phil Ramone in New York in 1997.
Ken Weingart Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:15 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We're going to remember the record producer and engineer Phil Ramone who died Saturday at the age of 79. He won 14 Grammys. He started his career as an engineer, recording singers like Lesley Gore, Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick. He went on to produce recordings by Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett as well as the original cast recording of Stephen Sondheim's "Passion."

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Author Interviews
11:54 am
Mon April 1, 2013

In Digestion: Mary Roach Explains What Happens To The Food We Eat

iStockphoto.com

For all our talk about food, we don't like to think much about it after we put it in our mouths. But Mary Roach — whose latest book is Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal — did just that. Gulp takes a close look at the human digestive system, from the mouth on down, and Roach writes that she wants readers to say not, "This is gross," but instead, "I thought this would be gross, but it's really interesting. OK, and maybe a little gross."

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat March 30, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Chris Hayes And 'Room 237'

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have been friends and collaborators since the 1970s. Their new album together is called Old Yellow Moon.
David McClister Nonesuch Records

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 9:51 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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Movie Reviews
12:05 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

Hunting For Secrets In 'The Shining's' Room 237

Rodney Ascher, director of the experimental documentary Room 237, leads an exploration of differing interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's classic horror film The Shining.
IFC Midnight

Awhile back, I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see its show on filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It was jammed with visitors poring over his letters, eyeing the dresses worn by the spooky twins in The Shining, and posing for photos in front of the sexy-futuristic decor of the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange.

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Movie Interviews
8:36 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Frank Langella: A Career 'Like A Chekhov Play'

Frank Langella, who earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon, stars in the film Robot & Frank, about an aging ex-burglar. He says he was drawn to the unsentimental role.
Joe Fornabaio

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 12:03 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on Aug. 16, 2012.

Frank Langella's career has not been an upward trajectory of success — and he likes it that way. He's had memorable roles on stage and screen, and times when he couldn't find work, or even an agent.

Now 75, Langella tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, he's never been hungrier to act.

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Music Interviews
8:21 am
Thu March 28, 2013

Emmylou Harris And Rodney Crowell: Harmonizing To That 'Old Yellow Moon'

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have been friends and collaborators since the 1970s. Their new album together is called Old Yellow Moon.
David McClister Nonesuch Records

Emmylou Harris' first solo album, "Pieces of the Sky," was released in 1975 after the death of her singing partner, Gram Parsons. The opening track on the album is a song called "Bluebird Wine," by a then-unknown songwriter named Rodney Crowell. She recorded two more of his songs on her next album, got him to join her band in the mid-'70s and now, after an almost 40-year friendship, the two musicians have recorded an album together called Old Yellow Moon. The two talk with Terry Gross about their long, enduring careers, their friendship, their influences and singing harmony.

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Book Reviews
12:09 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

The Apathy In 'A Thousand Pardons' Is Hard To Forgive

iStockPhoto

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 2:32 pm

Jonathan Dee likes to write about rich, good-looking people falling apart — and who among the 99 percent of us can't enjoy that plot? In The Privileges, the dad of the family was a Wall Street trader, tempted by existential boredom into larceny; in A Thousand Pardons, the dad of the family is a partner in a New York law firm, tempted by existential boredom into a disastrous workplace affair.

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Television
12:09 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Chris Hayes: From 'Up' In The Morning To 'All In' At Night

Anchor Chris Hayes will host a new MSNBC weeknight show beginning April 1.
Virginia Sherwood MSNBC

On Monday evening on MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes will premiere, making the 34-year-old the youngest prime-time anchor on any of the major cable news channels. For the past 18 months, he has hosted an early morning weekend show — Up with Chris Hayes — on MSNBC, but he's already a familiar face to MSNBC evening viewers: He has frequently filled in for Rachel Maddow and has been a popular guest on her show.

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Author Interviews
11:33 am
Tue March 26, 2013

'Angry Days' Shows An America Torn Over Entering World War II

Before Pearl Harbor, aviator Charles Lindbergh was so vocal about his opposition to U.S. involvement in World War II that he became an unofficial leader of America's isolationist movement.
AP

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 1:30 pm

During the debate over whether to invade Iraq, or whether to stay in Afghanistan, many people looked back to World War II, describing it as a good and just war — a war the U.S. knew it had to fight. In reality, it wasn't that simple. When Britain and France went to war with Germany in 1939, Americans were divided about offering military aid, and the debate over the U.S. joining the war was even more heated. It wasn't until two years later, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against the U.S., that Americans officially entered the conflict.

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Remembrances
11:32 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Fresh Air Remembers Journalist Anthony Lewis

Anthony Lewis, the New York Times columnist and reporter who covered the Supreme Court in the late 1950s and early 1960s, died Monday. Fresh Air remembers him by listening back to a 1991 interview in which Lewis talks about the responsibilities of a columnist and the importance of a correctly-spelled name.

Fresh Air Interviews
10:39 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Remembering Chinua Achebe And The Importance Of Struggle

To remember Chinua Achebe who died last Thursday, Fresh Air listens back to an interview with the great African writer that originally aired on May 10, 1988. In it, Achebe talks about the literary trope of the white explorer or missionary living amongst the savages, and the importance of struggle.

Fresh Air Interviews
10:39 am
Mon March 25, 2013

How And Why The Hollywood Star Machine Made 'Gods Like Us'

promo image
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 12:25 pm

As a film critic for The Boston Globe, Ty Burr has met a lot of movie stars and is often asked what they're really like. What he has realized is that often, the actor's image has little to do with their actual personality, but that's not what interests him; Burr is more curious about why we ask that question to begin with. Burr wants to know "why we respond to these people who we think are larger than life [and] that are — especially in the classic days — manufactured and all their irregularities sanded off and presented to us as some kind of perfection."

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Fresh Air Weekend
7:03 am
Sat March 23, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Emily Rapp, Phil Spector, Philip Roth And Sea Chanteys

Emily Rapp is also the author of Poster Child, about a congenital birth defect that led to the amputation of her leg when she was a child, and about how she subsequently became a poster child for the March of Dimes.
Anne Staveley Penguin Press

Originally published on Sat March 23, 2013 8:52 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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Movie Reviews
11:59 am
Fri March 22, 2013

With Vengeance And Violence, 'Olympus Has Fallen' Flat

Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd as the president and first lady in Olympus Has Fallen.
Phil Caruso Millennium Films

What surprises me about the ongoing discussion of violence in cinema and whether it influences violence in the real world is how people fail to engage with the male fantasy behind these films. There's a template for them, a theme; it hinges on violation and vengeance. A seminal action picture of the last 50 years is 1988's Die Hard, in which a lone male cop operates behind the scenes after an ingeniously orchestrated foreign attack on American soil. He's symbolically emasculated — he has no gun or even shoes, his wife is now going by her maiden name.

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Author Interviews
9:56 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Nathan Englander: Stories Of Faith, Family And The Holocaust

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

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:59 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Feb. 15, 2012.

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

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Music Interviews
9:49 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Timberlake On 'N Sync, Acting And Bringing Sexy Back

Justin Timberlake performs at Myspace Secret Show at SXSW on March 16 in Austin, Texas.
Jason Kempin Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:59 am

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 6, 2010.

Justin Timberlake has come a long way from the first time he stepped on a stage at the age of 8.

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Environment
12:10 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

'Temperature Rising': Will Climate Change Bring More Extreme Weather?

The Star Jet roller coaster sits in the water on Feb. 19 after the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J., collapsed from the forces of Superstorm Sandy.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

According to the historical record dating back to 1895, 2012 was the hottest year this country has ever seen. But it's not just that the temperature has risen — from deadly tornadoes to the widespread coastal damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, we seem to be living through a period of intensified and heightened weather extremes.

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