WNPR

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.

Director Spike Lee was just 29 years old in 1986 when he released his first feature film, She's Gotta Have It. The movie told the story of a young black artist named Nola Darling who loves sex but isn't interested in a committed relationship with any of the three men she is dating.

Lee, now 60, says he made She's Gotta Have It because he wanted to show a woman "living her life, and not really caring about what people feel."

Couples therapist Esther Perel is an expert in cheating. She's spent the past six years of her career focusing on couples who are dealing with infidelity — and she's heard a lot of stories.

"It's never been easier to cheat — and it's never been more difficult to keep a secret," she says. "The majority of affairs would normally have died a natural death. Today they are discovered primarily through the phone or through social media or though the computer."

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Screenwriter Scott Frank has written movies in a all kinds of genres, including crime noir (Get Shorty), thriller (Malice) and action/adventure (The Wolverine). But despite his extensive list of credits, he always felt there was one genre missing.

"I wanted to write a Western at some point in my career," he says. "I kept putting it off and putting it off, because they were very difficult economically to make in Hollywood."

The Room (2003) has been called the Citizen Kane of bad movies. Eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed and starred in the movie, and it has since developed a cult following. Around the country, fans flock to midnight screenings.

Actor James Franco also found himself drawn to The Room. In 2014, after reading a nonfiction book about the film's creation (called The Disaster Artist) Franco knew he wanted to turn the movie's backstory story into another film.

Stories about sexual harassment in the workplace have dominated the news cycle this fall, but New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer remembers a time not that long ago when even the term "sexual harassment" felt new.

"Most of us really didn't know much about sexual harassment," she says. "Many of us had experienced it, but we didn't really know the name for it or how to handle it."

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

After the sudden death of his wife, Michelle McNamara, in April 2016, comedian Patton Oswalt felt himself falling apart. He began drinking and eating bad food and he struggled with insomnia.

"I was beginning to kind of kiss the edge during those months," he says. "I felt like I was fading out of the world ... just sort of treating myself like I had already died."

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, singer-songwriter Margo Price often wished she lived somewhere else — a place where the landscape wasn't so flat, the winters weren't so cold and the work wasn't so hard.

Actress Greta Gerwig has made a career starring in movies about quirky women. She played a driftless dancer in Frances Ha and a punk photographer in 20th Century Women. Now she's written and directed her first film, an exploration of mother-daughter relationships called Lady Bird.

"I don't know any woman who has a simple relationship with their mother or with their daughter," Gerwig says. "It has a tremendous amount of love — and a tremendous amount of angst."

On Oct. 5, The New York Times published an article detailing alleged sexual misconduct by film executive Harvey Weinstein that dated back nearly three decades.

The article featured evidence and interviews describing a pattern in which the film producer would invite young women to a business meeting, sometimes in his hotel room, and then sexually assault or harass them.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

As the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza had top security clearance and sat in on most meetings and major events with the president.

"I was there all the time," he says. "I wasn't talking to [Obama] all the time, but I was always in every meeting and pretty much every situation that he had as president."

Pages