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Fresh Air

Fresh Air

NPR
Arts>Books
50 episodes
Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.
  • As a pregnant teenager, Nicole Lynn Lewis felt ashamed. Now she knows many pregnant teens share the problems she had — including an abusive boyfriend, and being temporarily homeless. She says the odds against pregnant teens going to college and having a career are even greater, if you're Black, like...
    Play51m 0s
  • We celebrate Mother's Day with stories of mom from past interviews with 'Daily Show' host Trevor Noah, Martin Scorsese and filmmaker Albert Brooks. And Lorna Luft remembers her mother, Judy Garland.Also, David Bianculli reviews 'Attenborough's Journey,' a BBC America special that salutes the nature...
    Play48m 34s
  • There is a 30-year gap in the life expectancy of some Black and white Chicagoans. Journalist Linda Villarosa talks about the link between racism and health outcomes, and tells her own family's story.Also, we remember rock historian Ed Ward, who died this week.
    Play48m 20s
  • Bechdel's new graphic memoir is about her lifelong obsession with exercise. She says she has a "predisposition of being extremely self-conscious and very caught up in my head" — and exercise helps. Bechdel's previous graphic memoir, 'Fun Home,' was about coming out at age 19, and discovering her fat...
    Play45m 17s
  • Ecologist Suzanne Simard says trees are "social creatures" that communicate with each other in remarkable ways — including warning each other of danger and sharing nutrients at critical times. Her book is 'Finding the Mother Tree.' Also, classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz reviews a collection by...
    Play47m 31s
  • In her new memoir, 'Pregnant Girl,' Nicole Lynn Lewis recalls feeling overwhelmed and isolated as a young mom in college. Now she runs an organization that is designed to support young parents with their education. We talk about her experience as a teen mom, the way society abandons young mothers —...
    Play46m 23s
  • Stephen Colbert has been taping 'The Late Show' without a studio audience during the pandemic — but he's not always alone. Sometimes his wife Evie is in the room. If she laughs, he knows he's on the right track. "I got into show business in a way to not be alone. Like a lot of comedians, I'm a bit o...
    Play49m 18s
  • While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic walk on the moon, Lt. Col. Michael Collins orbited above in the Apollo 11 command capsule, waiting to rendezvous with them. For a time, on the far side of the moon, he was cut off from everyone. "It's utterly quiet. Completely serene," he told...
    Play47m 37s
  • Set in a fictional African village in the 1980s, Mbue's latest novel, 'How Beautiful We Were,' is a David and Goliath tale about a group of villagers who take on an American oil company. Guest host Arun Venugopal talks with Mbue about her childhood in Cameroon, becoming a U.S. citizen, and the activ...
    Play47m 4s
  • NPR's program, 'All Things Considered' debuted on May 3, 1971. 'ATC' creator Bill Siemering and former co-host Susan Stamberg look back on the early years of the network, NPR's mission, and Stamberg's pioneering role as the first woman to anchor a daily national news program in America.
    Play48m 37s
  • Stephen Colbert has been taping 'The Late Show' without a studio audience during the pandemic — but he's not always alone. Sometimes his wife Evie is in the room. If she laughs, he knows he's on the right track. "I got into show business in a way to not be alone. Like a lot of comedians, I'm a bit o...
    Play47m 56s
  • Journalist Michael Moss says processed foods can be as addictive as cocaine, heroin and cigarettes. In his new book, 'Hooked,' Moss explores how these companies appeal to our senses, nostalgia and brain chemistry to keep us snacking. "It's inexpensive, it's legal, it's everywhere," Moss says. "And t...
    Play47m 13s
  • Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. lost a close friend from college to police violence. His Spotify podcast, 'Resistance,' explores different aspects of the movement for Black lives — including Tejan-Thomas Jr.'s personal history. We also talk about his childhood in Sierra Leone during the civil war.Courtney B....
    Play50m 38s
  • The Oscar-nominated animated film imagines a place where souls are matched with unique passions. It follows Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher and aspiring jazz musician, who nearly dies right after securing the gig of his life. Pete Docter and Kemp Powers say their movie is meant to challeng...
    Play46m 30s
  • Yale professor Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff co-founded the Center for Policing Equity, which collects data on police behavior from 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country. He says most people think of racism as an issue of character and ignorance. But, he says, focusing on changing racist attit...
    Play48m 21s
  • Courtney B. Vance got his start in the theater, with a breakout role in the August Wilson play 'Fences' on Broadway. We talk about his origin story and his recent roles as Aretha Franklin's father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, in 'Genius: Aretha,' and as the show-stopping attorney Johnnie Cochran, in 'The Pe...
    Play47m 16s
  • Hough was 15 when her family left the Children of God cult. Afterward, she struggled to face the trauma of her past. At 18 she joined the Air Force during "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and was discharged for being gay. "I spent a long time lying to myself more than, I think, anyone else. Telling myself t...
    Play48m 1s
  • Former Stanford University undergraduate dean Julie Lythcott-Haims' new book, 'Your Turn: How to Be an Adult,' is a handbook on adulthood, offering insights and strategies on education and career choices, building friendships and coping with setbacks. Her 2017 memoir, 'Real American,' is the story o...
    Play49m 14s
  • 'Twyla Moves,' a new documentary by PBS American Masters, tells the story of the legendary choreographer and dancer, who got her start performing on subway platforms and rooftops in the 1960s. "If it was kind of level, it was fair territory," she tells Terry Gross.Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly une...
    Play49m 58s
  • Louise Erdrich's novel, 'The Night Watchman,' was inspired by her grandfather, a chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who fought a Congressional initiative to move indigenous peoples off their land and into cities. Erdrich says the policy amounted to tribal termination. "Termination was...
    Play47m 52s
  • Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr. lost a close friend from college to police violence. His Spotify podcast, 'Resistance,' explores different aspects of the movement for Black lives — including Tejan-Thomas Jr.'s personal history. We talk about his childhood in Sierra Leone, his poetry, and losing his parents a...
    Play45m 53s
  • The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma, which made billions of dollars selling OxyContin, an opiate painkiller stronger than morphine. Introduced in 1996, OxyContin has been largely blamed for the opioid addiction crisis that followed. The Sacklers and the company are currently facing more than 2,500...
    Play47m 5s
  • The 'Finding Your Roots' host has a new book and PBS series called 'The Black Church.' Gates describes the Black church as "the cultural cauldron Black people created to combat a system designed in every way to crush their spirit." We'll talk about the bargain Gates made with Jesus when he was 12 in...
    Play48m 13s
  • Tony and Grammy-winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. is best-known for his role as Aaron Burr in 'Hamilton.' Now he stars as Sam Cooke in Regina King's film 'One Night in Miami,' which imagines a night where Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Cooke meet. Odom talks about studying Cooke's voice, hearing...
    Play48m 31s
  • Six-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlile got her start onstage as a kid, singing backup for an Elvis impersonator. Her new memoir, 'Broken Horses,' is about her early life and the family of misfits she's built. "I think I'm starting to really feel sort of solid and loved in my world. Like maybe I've ki...
    Play50m 26s
  • Singer Merry Clayton did the iconic background vocals of the 1969 Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter." But despite the fame and success of the record, Clayton remained largely anonymous. Until, that is, she was featured as one of the backup singers in the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary '20 Feet from...
    Play48m 23s
  • 'Twyla Moves,' a new documentary by PBS American Masters, tells the story of the legendary choreographer and dancer, who got her start performing on subway platforms and rooftops in the 1960s. "If it was kind of level, it was fair territory," she says. We talk about starting an all-women dance compa...
    Play48m 30s
  • Reem Kassis began gathering family recipes after the birth of her first child. The recipes, she says, "could be the story of any and every Palestinian family." We talk about her favorite fried egg recipe, the importance of za'atar seasoning, and her unlikely friendship with Israeli chef Michael Solo...
    Play48m 26s
  • What do 'Soul Train' and Whitney Houston tell us about race in the U.S? Poet and culture critic Hanif Abdurraqib's book, 'A Little Devil in America,' traces the history of Black performance through moments in pop culture, emphasizing the joy and excellence. He spoke with contributor Arun Venugopal....
    Play49m 33s
  • The six-time Grammy winner got her start onstage as a kid, singing backup for an Elvis impersonator. Her new memoir, 'Broken Horses,' is about her early life and the family of misfits she's built. "I think I'm starting to really feel sort of solid and loved in my world. Like maybe I've kind of final...
    Play46m 58s
  • Author and bird researcher Scott Weidensaul shares amazing stories of the billions of migratory birds that journey over our heads every year, how they manage their feats physically, and how they're threatened by economic development and climate change. His new book is 'A World on the Wing.'Ken Tucke...
    Play49m 27s
  • We remember novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry who died last week at the age of 84. Raised on a Texas ranch, McMurtry wrote about the American West in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 'Lonesome Dove', which was later made into a beloved miniseries. He also authored 'The Last Picture Show' an...
    Play48m 58s
  • 'New York Times' reporter Jason DeParle says a provision in the new COVID relief package has the makings of a policy revolution — and "would roughly cut child poverty in half." Qualifying families with children will receive between $250 and $300 a month per child, money families can spend however th...
    Play46m 7s
  • ProPublica journalist Alec MacGillis says a union vote by Amazon workers in Alabama could determine "what life is going to look like for the working class in America in years to come." We talk with MacGillis about how Amazon's size, aggressive business practices and warehouse working conditions are...
    Play47m 41s
  • The HBO series 'Lovecraft Country' takes the real horrors of the Black experience in the 1950s and adds to it the supernatural terrors of the horror genre. We talk to series creator Misha Green about reclaiming the genre space for people of color, her writers' room, and how scary movies make her fee...
    Play47m 55s
  • Author Scott Weidensaul talks about the millions of birds flying unseen over our heads in the night sky, how the bar-tailed godwit can fly more than a week over water without stopping, and how new tracking technology may help with strategies to keep them alive. His new book is 'A World on the Wing.'...
    Play46m 46s
  • The Oscar-nominated animated film 'Soul' imagines a place where souls are matched with unique passions. It follows Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher and aspiring jazz musician, who nearly dies right after securing the gig of his life. Filmmakers Pete Docter and Kemp Powers say their movie is...
    Play50m 15s
  • Riz Ahmed plays a drummer who loses his hearing in 'Sound of Metal.' To prepare for the role, he immersed himself in deaf culture — an experience that changed the way he thought about communication and listening. The film earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Also, we listen back to our 2019 in...
    Play48m 21s
  • Elizabeth Neumann resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in April of 2020. She says the Trump administration ignored the threat — and fanned the flames — of violent domestic extremism. She's now co-director of the Republican Accountability Project, which pushes back on conspiracy theories...
    Play47m 53s
  • There are 45,000 laws, policies and administrative sanctions in the U.S. that target people with criminal records. University of Chicago sociologist Reuben Jonathan Miller researches how they affect people's lives in 'Halfway Home.' "I want us to think about all these traps that we've created, we've...
    Play46m 8s
  • The Oscar-nominated animated film imagines a place where souls are matched with unique passions. It follows Joe Gardner, a middle school band teacher and aspiring jazz musician, who nearly dies right after securing the gig of his life. Pete Docter and Kemp Powers say their movie is meant to challeng...
    Play46m 57s
  • The former first lady is often remembered as a genteel Southerner who promoted highway beautification, but author Julia Sweig says archival records show Lady Bird was a savvy political strategist and key advisor to her husband, President Lyndon Johnson. Lady Bird was a supporter of women's rights, a...
    Play48m 54s
  • Deborah Feldman's memoir, 'Unorthodox,' about leaving the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn, inspired the Netflix series of the same name. Growing up, she wasn't supposed to pursue an education or career, and, at 17, she entered into an arranged marriage with a man she'd barely met. Her departure...
    Play49m 57s
  • The country music star's 50th studio album, 'Still Woman Enough,' is out now. Lynn spoke with Terry Gross in 2010 about her memoir, 'Coal Miner's Daughter.'Also, Justin Chang reviews 'The Father,' starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman. And Lloyd Schwartz reviews a PBS special about Black contr...
    Play48m 8s
  • 'New Yorker' writer Jane Mayer talks about the criminal investigation into whether Donald Trump engaged in tax, banking and/or insurance fraud. If convicted, he could be sentenced to prison. "The thing that's most complicated about this case and makes it really hard is that in order for this to be a...
    Play46m 18s
  • The Nobel Prize-winning novelist's new book, 'Klara and the Sun,' is set in the future and has an artificially intelligent narrator. "I wanted some of that childlike freshness and openness and naivety to survive all the way through the text in her," he says. We talk about his writing process, hitchh...
    Play49m 10s
  • 'New York Times' tech columnist Kevin Roose says we've been approaching automation all wrong. "What we should be teaching people is to be more like humans, to do the things that machines can't do," he says. We talk about misconceptions about A.I, how algorithms decide who gets government assistance,...
    Play46m 6s
  • Deborah Feldman's memoir, 'Unorthodox,' about leaving the Satmar Hasidic community in Brooklyn inspired the Netflix series of the same name. Growing up, Feldman spoke Yiddish and was discouraged from speaking or reading English at home. She wasn't supposed to pursue an education or career, and, at 1...
    Play47m 19s
  • The bandleader of 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert' joins us from his home piano where he plays music he wrote for the Pixar movie 'Soul' and songs from his new album 'We Are.' Batiste has been playing pop-up shows at Black Lives Matter protests, vaccination sites, and voter registration events....
    Play50m 36s
  • Journalist David Zucchino tells the forgotten story of a murderous coup that led to a white supremacist takeover of a Southern city. In the 1890s, Wilmington, N.C., was a mixed-race community with a thriving Black middle class, Black aldermen and police officers, and a Black newspaper. But white sup...
    Play48m 28s