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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Shots - Health News
2:10 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

'America's Bitter Pill' Makes Case For Why Health Care Law 'Won't Work'

Steven Brill is a journalist who also founded Court TV, American Lawyer magazine, 10 regional legal newspapers and Brill's Content Magazine. He teaches journalism at Yale.
Courtesy of Random House

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 11:46 am

While reporting on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, journalist Steven Brill was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition that required heart surgery.

"There I was: a reporter who had made hospital presidents and hospital executives and health care executives and insurance executives sweat because I asked them all kinds of questions about their salaries and about their profit margins," Brill tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And now I was lying on a gurney in a hospital in real fear of my life."

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Fresh Air Weekend
12:20 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Serial' Host Sarah Koenig; Scott Saul On Richard Pryor

Sarah Koenig is an executive producer and the host of the podcast Serial.
Meredith Heuer Courtesy of Serial

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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Author Interviews
3:21 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

For Working Moms, Key To Balance May Lie In Elusive Leisure Time

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 4:08 pm

If waiting for help when your car breaks down doesn't strike you as a leisurely activity, it may be time to reconsider. A new book looks at time management challenges of being a working parent.

Originally broadcast March 11, 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Movie Interviews
3:21 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

'Life Itself': An Unflinching Documentary Of Roger Ebert's Life And Death

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 4:08 pm

In late 2012, filmmaker Steve James and Roger Ebert began talking about filming a documentary based on Ebert's memoir. Ebert's wife, Chaz, agreed. They didn't know that he would die within months.

Originally broadcast July 3, 2014.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Author Interviews
1:31 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

What's It Like To Be Neil Patrick Harris? He Gives You Options

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Book Reviews
1:28 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

In 'Death By Pastrami,' Charming Stories Of New York's Garment District

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 2:58 pm

No, it's not a posthumously published mystery novel by the late, great composer and conductor. Rather, Death by Pastrami by Leonard S. Bernstein is a collection of short stories mostly about life in the garment district of New York City. This Leonard Bernstein knows whereof he writes: He owned and managed a garment factory; now, in his 80s, he's published his first work of fiction, making him a veritable Grandma Moses of the garment district.

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Television
1:28 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

John Oliver Is No One's Friend On His New HBO Show

The comedian who was a correspondent on The Daily Show for 7 1/2 years now pokes fun on Last Week Tonight. Oliver talks about tasing his leg, temping for a thief and remaining an outsider.

Originally broadcast June 19.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Pop Culture
1:28 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

For Comic Hari Kondabolu, Explaining The Joke IS The Joke

Many comedians think that explaining jokes ruins jokes, but Hari Kondabolu doesn't mind. Especially when it comes to jokes about race and ethnicity, he's willing to explain until everyone gets it.

Originally broadcast April 21.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Television
1:38 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Author Interviews
1:38 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents

In Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast combines text, cartoons, sketches and photos to describe her interactions with her parents during the last years of their lives.

Originally broadcast May 8.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Music Interviews
1:56 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

At 90, 'Fiddler' Lyricist Tells His Story

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 2:44 pm

"Any successful lyricist has to be part playwright and has to be able to put himself into the minds and the hearts and the souls of the characters," Sheldon Harnick tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Originally broadcast April 30.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Author Interviews
1:56 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

New Yorker Cartoon Editor Explores What Makes Us Get It

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 2:44 pm

Humor is both a creative and a cognitive process, says Bob Mankoff, who has contributed cartoons to The New Yorker since 1977. His memoir is called How About Never — Is Never Good For You?

Originally broadcast March 24.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Fresh Air Weekend
1:13 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: The Best Of 2014 For Films, Books, Music And TV

Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

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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Music Interviews
2:29 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 2:39 pm

In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

Originally broadcast May 6.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Music Interviews
1:13 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

Naive, Yet Revolutionary: Ray Davies On 50 Years Of The Kinks

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Merry Christmas. Today, we begin a week-long series of some of our favorite interviews of the year.

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Television
12:34 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Bianculli's Top 10: 2014 Was A 'Good Year For Programming'

Allison Tolman plays Deputy Sheriff Molly Solverson in the FX TV series Fargo. It's a breakout role for the actress who had done only theater and commercials.
Chris Large

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:47 pm

Although it wasn't a great year for the shows themselves, it was a good year for programming, says TV critic David Bianculli.

"In terms of what was happening on television, in terms of new and old formats and new, exciting players coming into the mix — [it was] another good year," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I'm actually kind of encouraged."

Bianculli reflects on how far TV has come.

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Movie Reviews
12:34 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

In A 'Depressing' Year For Films, Edelstein Finds Some Greats

Ellar Coltrane, who plays Mason in Boyhood, was 6 years old when director Richard Linklater picked him for the role. Made over the course of 12 years, the film is David Edelstein's favorite of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Lankes

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 2:06 pm

"This is a very, very depressing year for film," critic David Edelstein tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "because none of the great material came from Hollywood studios."

Studios, he says, direct their financial resources into sequels and comic-book movies, which leaves little room for "creative expression, and for doing something weird and potentially boundary-moving."

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Arts & Life
1:11 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Serial Host Sarah Koenig Says She Set Out To Report, Not Exonerate

The Serial podcast is Sarah Koenig's reinvestigation of the murder of Hae Min Lee, a Maryland high school student who was strangled in 1999. Lee was found in Baltimore's Leakin Park. Her schoolmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder and is serving a life sentence.
Courtesy of Serial

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 6:32 pm

Sarah Koenig didn't expect her new podcast, Serial, to get so much press, but she says the attention helped keep her on her toes: "It was just a constant reminder of how careful we needed to be," Koenig tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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Music Interviews
1:01 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Nick Lowe Brings His 'Quality Holiday Revue' To America

Nick Lowe's Christmas album is called Quality Street. He's currently touring the U.S.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 1:31 pm

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:30 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Timothy Spall, Review Of D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah,' John Cleese

Timothy Spall says he had to use a lot of empathy to play a character like Mr. Turner, who wasn't always "very pleasant" and was a "man of massive contradictions."
Simon Mein Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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:

Timothy Spall Takes On Painter J.M.W. Turner, A 'Master Of The Sublime': The 19th century painter wasn't always "very pleasant" and he was a "man of massive contradictions," Spall says. So Spall says he had to "dig deep" to play the title role in Mr. Turner.

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Television
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

J.K. Simmons On Playing A Neo-Nazi On HBO's 'Oz'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Movie Reviews
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

The Strange World — And Life — Of 'Mr. Turner'

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 1:48 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Movie Interviews
1:15 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Meryl Streep: The Fresh Air Interview

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 2:44 pm

Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She talks about preparing for that role and how her perceptions of herself have changed over the years.

Originally broadcast Feb. 6, 2012.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Television
3:24 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

A Tribute To Stephen Colbert, A Self-Proclaimed 'Junkie For Exhaustion'

Stephen Colbert will host his final episode of The Colbert Report Thursday after nine years on air.
Pool Getty Images

After nine years, Stephen Colbert is retiring the character he created for The Colbert Report, the conservative, self-important blowhard who opines about the news and the media. The final episode airs Thursday. Colbert will take over as host for The Late Show, replacing the retiring David Letterman.

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Author Interviews
1:32 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Between World Wars, Gay Culture Flourished In Berlin

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WILLKOMMEN")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome.

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Music
1:32 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

D'Angelo's 'Black Messiah' Collapses Years, Genres

D'Angelo has built a considerable reputation on the basis of three albums: 1995's Brown Sugar, 2000's Voodoo, and now Black Messiah, unexpectedly released early Monday morning. The singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has been widely praised for connecting many decades of different rhythm & blues styles, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker says Black Messiah is as adventurous as any fan could hope for.

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The Best Music Of 2014
2:24 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Ken Tucker's Top 9 Albums Of 2014, Plus A Book

Elizabeth Grant is better known by her stage name, Lana Del Rey.
Neil Krug Courtesy of the artist

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Author Interviews
2:04 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Early On, Comedian John Cleese Says, He Had Good Timing But Little Else

John Cleese, pictured above in 1976 with Monty Python's Flying Circus (from left, Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones), says he worked hard to learn physical comedy by imitation — "It was not something I was naturally gifted at," he says.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 9:41 am

Performing live comedy is like "a series of little scientific experiments," says John Cleese. "When you do comedy in front of an audience, they are the ones who tell you whether it's funny or not," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies, and each subsequent night on stage is an experiment in making jokes land better than the night before.

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Movie Interviews
3:42 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Timothy Spall Takes On Painter J.M.W. Turner, A 'Master Of The Sublime'

Timothy Spall says he had to use a lot of empathy to play a character like Mr. Turner, who wasn't always "very pleasant" and was a "man of massive contradictions."
Simon Mein Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Before he could play British artist J.M.W. Turner, actor Timothy Spall first had to learn how to paint; over the course of two years, Spall took private fine art lessons from London artist Tim Wright.

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Book Reviews
3:42 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Sometimes You Can't Pick Just 10: Maureen Corrigan's Favorite Books Of 2014

Rows of characters enjoying reading books.
Gustav Dejert Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 1:12 pm

For this year's Best Books of the Year list, I reject the tyranny of the decimal system. Some years it's simply more than 10. Here, then, are my top 12 books of 2014. All of the disparate books on my list contain characters, scenes or voices that linger long past the last page of their stories. In fact, The Empire of Necessity by Greg Grandin, which is my pick for Book of the Year, came out in January and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

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