Fresh Air

M-Th 7p
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

Fresh Air's Terry Gross
Credit Will Ryan

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.

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into President Trump will have far-reaching impacts, and one of them may be to increase public interest in the man who would occupy the White House if the president were to depart, Vice President Mike Pence. Pence has been a loyal but largely invisible figure in the Trump administration.

Academy Awards voters can rarely resist a celebrity impersonation, judging by some of the star turns that have won Oscars in recent years. These aren't just performances; they're jaw-dropping feats of mimicry. Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill! Rami Malek is Freddie Mercury!

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. In the new Ken Burns PBS series on the history of country music, my guest, Doug Green, talks about the era of the singing cowboy as epitomized by the most popular one, Gene Autry. Cowboy lore, folk ballads, jazz, Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood are all ingredients of the music of the singing cowboys who were movie staples in the '30s and '40s and then on TV in the '50s.

It's one of those poems people reach for in times when it feels like the sky is falling. It's also generally regarded as one of the great poems of the 20th century.

"September 1, 1939," as its title signals, was written by W.H. Auden in the days immediately following Germany's invasion of Poland, which marked the start of World War II. Auden had left his native England and moved to New York City some nine months earlier, and the famous opening lines of the poem are rooted in the dingy geography of his new home:

Growing up in Maryland, author Ta-Nehisi Coates was enthralled by stories of Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist who operated the Underground Railroad on the state's Eastern Shore. He read about Tubman's efforts to lead enslaved people to freedom, and was struck by the surreal qualities of her story.

High school was a tumultuous time for Canadian identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin. They both, separately, were coming to terms with their sexuality — and they were also beginning to write and record songs together.

"Almost right away, we started to weave our voices together. That was something that we had an instinct to do," Tegan says.

Back in the old, old days of TV, before either streaming or cable television, the broadcast networks were king — enjoying a virtual monopoly. And each fall, CBS, NBC and ABC would roll out their new shows at the same time to attract the most viewers for their automotive advertisers, who, in turn, were rolling out their new fall models. It's a TV tradition that has persisted, even though neither Detroit nor the networks are nearly as dominant as they used to be.

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:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. "Downton Abbey," the feature film based on the Masterpiece series that ran on PBS for six seasons, opens today in theaters. Much of the cast returns in the movie for a plot set in motion by the visit of King George the V to Downton. In this scene, conflicts emerge as servants at Downton are talking about preparations from the royals with the king's page, who's part of the royals advance team.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNTOWN ABBEY")

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The science fiction drama "Ad Astra" stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut who sets out on a dangerous voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system. It's the latest picture from writer-director James Gray, whose earlier movies include "We Own The Night," "Two Lovers" and "The Lost City Of Z." Our film critic Justin Chang says "Ad Astra" is a space odyssey that sometimes stumbles but ultimately soars.

In 2013, Edward Snowden was an IT systems expert working under contract for the National Security Agency when he traveled to Hong Kong to provide three journalists with thousands of top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance of American citizens.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. "Heaven, My Home" is the latest crime novel by Attica Locke, a prize-winning novelist also known for her television work, which includes writing for the hit series "Empire" and the recent Netflix mini series "When They See Us." This new book is the second in a series about an African American Texas ranger. And our critic-at-large John Powers says that Locke knows how to write a mystery novel that stings.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Some of today's most divisive issues related to racial equality, voting rights and voter suppression, women's rights, who gets to be a citizen, mass incarceration and what is the meaning of equal justice are issues you can't fully understand without understanding the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. These are the amendments that were added to the Constitution after the Civil War in the era known as Reconstruction.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. We've got some very sad news today. Cokie Roberts, one of the founding mothers of NPR, has died from complications of breast cancer. She was 75.

Several Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after The New York Times published an essay Sept. 14 describing alleged sexual misconduct that occurred during his college years at Yale.

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:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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?

Ken Burns is our great explainer, television's finest illustrator. He's a filmmaker who gives us what we know from fresh angles, so that we can learn more and appreciate topics on a deeper level. Whether his subject is the Civil War or baseball, Burns has made an art of divining what most Americans know about a subject and then putting an arm around our collective shoulder and murmuring, "Yes, but have you seen this?"

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."

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR.

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.

Now that it feels like we're living in a society that I find myself thinking of as "Gilead lite," how could The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, possibly convey the same degree of shock as its predecessor? The answer is, it can't.

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:

On 'Pose,' Janet Mock Tells The Stories She Craved As A Young Trans Person: As a writer, director and producer of the TV series about the underground ballroom community in 1980s New York, she says the work sometimes makes her tear up.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Pages