Fresh Air

Fresh Air

www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air
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.


John Brown, Abraham Lincoln & The Fight To End Slavery
Oct 19 • 48 min
Historian H.W. Brands’ new book, ‘The Zealot and the Emancipator’ looks at two very different 19th century leaders, John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. Brown was a militant abolitionist who embraced violence and was hanged after he tried to spark an…
Best Of: Broadway Stars Danny Burstein & Rebecca Luker / ‘Nice White Parents’ Creator
Oct 17 • 50 min
Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in ‘Moulin Rouge’ at the time. Burstein’s case was severe and he nearly died. Luker’s case was mild, but it came…
How Women Have Been Left Out Of The Constitution / Remembering MLB’s Joe Morgan
Oct 16 • 49 min
As a teen, Heidi Schreck debated the Constitution in competitions. Later she realized it had failed to protect four generations of women in her family. “I believed it was perfect. I believed it was a tool of justice. I did not realize as a 15-year-old…
‘My Octopus Teacher’ Filmmaker
Oct 15 • 48 min
Craig Foster spent a year diving — without oxygen or a wetsuit — into the frigid sea near Cape Town, South Africa. One octopus began coming out of her den to hunt or explore while Foster watched. He documents their unlikely friendship in ‘My Octopus…
2 Broadway Stars Grapple With Illness And Uncertainty
Oct 14 • 49 min
Married Broadway stars Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker both contracted COVID in the spring, just as theaters went dark. Burstein was starring in ‘Moulin Rouge’ at the time. Burstein’s case was severe and he nearly died. Luker’s case was mild, but it came…
Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World
Oct 13 • 49 min
CNN host and ‘Washington Post’ columnist Fareed Zakaria says COVID-19 presents a chance to make positive changes: “We could well look back on these times 10 or 20 years from now and say, ‘This was the turning point.’” His new book, ‘Ten Lessons for a…
How ‘Nice White Parents’ Can Undermine School Integration
Oct 12 • 48 min
‘This American Life’ producer Chana Joffe-Walt says progressive white parents may say they want their kids to go to diverse schools — but the reality tells a different story. “I think white parents are pretty savvy at evading the explicit conversation…
Best Of: Ethan Hawke / Lenny Kravitz
Oct 10 • 50 min
Ethan Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, ‘The Good Lord Bird.’ He says Brown’s story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. Also, Justin Chang…
Remembering MLB Pitcher Bob Gibson
Oct 9 • 48 min
We remember Bob Gibson, one of baseball’s most intimidating pitchers. He dominated hitters from the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s and ’70s and he holds the record for most strikeouts — 17 — in a World Series game. Gibson died last week at…
The State Of The Affordable Care Act
Oct 8 • 47 min
As President Trump recovers from COVID-19 and candidates debate the issue of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions, we take stock of the nation’s health care system. We talk with the ‘New York Times’ health policy reporter Sarah Kliff about…
Novelist Rumaan Alam
Oct 7 • 48 min
Alam’s novel, ‘Leave the World Behind,’ centers on two families — one Black and one white — who are sharing a vacation home during a mysterious disaster. It explores issues of race and class, fear, and how we respond to crisis. We’ll also talk about…
Lenny Kravitz
Oct 6 • 49 min
Kravitz talks about growing up the son of a Jewish father and Black mother, finding his musical style, and how Lisa Bonet changed him as a songwriter. His new memoir about his life up until his breakout album is ‘Let Love Rule.’Also, Maureen Corrigan…
Ethan Hawke
Oct 5 • 49 min
Hawke plays 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the seven-part Showtime series, ‘The Good Lord Bird.’ He says Brown’s story feels particularly relevant today, as America confronts systemic racism and the legacy of slavery. We also talk about ‘Training…
Best Of: What If Trump Contests The Election? / Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson
Oct 3 • 50 min
‘Atlantic’ staff writer Barton Gellman says if President Trump claims mail-in votes are fraudulent and contests the results, Republican legislatures might then try to ignore their states’ popular votes and send Trump representatives to the Electoral…
A Cave Diver On The Thrill & Terror Of Going ‘Into The Planet’
Oct 2 • 49 min
Diver and photographer Jill Heinerth shares some of her most dangerous and exhilarating experiences underwater — like getting trapped inside an iceberg in Antarctica. Heinerth also explains how she stays calm when things go wrong: “I take a really deep…
What Happens If Trump Contests the Election?
Oct 1 • 48 min
‘Atlantic’ writer Barton Gellman says the 2020 election could trigger a constitutional crisis, and if the election is close, it could take weeks to determine the results in key battleground states as mail-in ballots are scrutinized for technical flaws and…
Filmmaker Faces Her Dad’s Mortality In ‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’
Sep 30 • 48 min
After Kirsten Johnson’s dad started showing signs of dementia, she had a hard time accepting that his death was getting closer. Her new Netflix documentary, ‘Dick Johnson is Dead,’ enacts his death from a series of imagined accidents. Johnson has been the…
Inside The Mueller Investigation
Sep 29 • 47 min
Andrew Weissmann, a lead prosecutor in the Mueller investigation, shares his experience with the probe and its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Weissmann says the constant threat that President Trump might fire Mueller and shut down…
The ‘Secret History’ Of Nuclear War
Sep 28 • 49 min
In his new book, ‘The Bomb,’ journalist Fred Kaplan pulls back the curtain on how U.S. presidents, their advisers and generals have thought about, planned for — and sometimes narrowly avoided — nuclear war.Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews the first album…
Best Of: Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Inside Trump’s Businesses
Sep 26 • 50 min
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, talks about Verdi’s “Requiem.” He’ll talk about how Verdi communicates suffering and hope through music, and how music has helped him find a sense of connection during…
Feminist Activist Gloria Steinem
Sep 25 • 48 min
The new drama ‘The Glorias’ is based on the feminist activist’s memoir ‘My Life on the Road,’ and follows Steinem from ages 20 to 40. Steinem spoke with Terry Gross in 2015 about her unique childhood, the illegal abortion she had when she was 22, and how…
Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin On Hope & Suffering
Sep 24 • 48 min
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the young, charismatic conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestra, talks about Verdi’s “Requiem.” He chose the piece for his inaugural performance as music director of the orchestra in Philadelphia. We’ll talk…
Political Meddling In The Fight Against COVID-19
Sep 23 • 48 min
‘Politico’ reporter Dan Diamond describes efforts by Trump loyalist and HHS spokesperson (currently on leave) Michael Caputo to alter weekly CDC reports and have scientists change their findings on the course of the coronavirus pandemic. “Caputo walked in…
How Donald Trump Turned The Presidency Into A Business
Sep 22 • 48 min
‘Forbes’ senior editor Dan Alexander examines President Trump’s sprawling business interests in his new book, ‘White House, Inc.’ Alexander says the president has broken a number of pledges he made about how he would conduct business while in office. We…
Remembering RBG / Neurologist Oliver Sacks
Sep 21 • 48 min
Legal analyst and ‘New Yorker’ staff writer Jeffrey Toobin spoke with Terry Gross in 2013 about his profile of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, written as she marked her 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court. We’ll talk about how her work led to breakthroughs…
Best Of: The Origin Of Data Science & Elections / Novelist Ayad Akhtar
Sep 19 • 50 min
Harvard historian and ‘New Yorker’ writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called “people machine,” a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising…
‘Watchmen’ Writer Cord Jefferson
Sep 18 • 47 min
The HBO series ‘Watchmen’ uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists…
Country Musician & Historian Marty Stuart
Sep 17 • 49 min
The Grammy winning singer-songwriter started out in Lester Flatt’s backup band. Now he’s being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stuart played some of his own music in this 2014 interview, and talked about his archive of cowboy couture.
COVID On College Campuses
Sep 16 • 48 min
College campuses have become the pandemic’s newest hotspots, with more than 88,000 COVID cases at the nation’s colleges and universities. We talk with reporter Scott Carlson about the tough decisions colleges are facing as they decide how to continue…
The Strange Origin Story Of Data Science & Elections
Sep 15 • 48 min
Harvard historian and ‘New Yorker’ writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called “people machine,” a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising…
Writer Ayad Akhtar On Blending Fact & Fiction
Sep 14 • 48 min
Actor, playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar won a Pulitzer Prize for ‘Disgraced,’ his play about an American-born Muslim who hosts a dinner party that sparks a heated discussion of religion and politics. Akhtar’s new novel, ‘Homeland Elegies,’ explores the…
Best Of: Yaa Gyasi / How Torture Derailed The War On Terror
Sep 12 • 50 min
Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi drew on her own ‚Äčexperiences growing up in a largely white community in Alabama for her new book, ‘Transcendent Kingdom.’ In the novel, she explores themes of depression, addiction, religion and race. Book critic Maureen…
‘Devil All The Time’ Novelist / ‘PEN15’ Creators Return To Middle School
Sep 11 • 48 min
Donald Ray Pollock worked in a paper mill and meatpacking plant for 32 years before becoming a writer. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2011 about his acclaimed gothic crime novel, ‘The Devil All the Time.’ The film adaptation, starring Robert Pattinson and…
What Happened To The 1 Million Displaced Persons After WWII?
Sep 10 • 47 min
Historian David Nasaw tells the story of the concentration camp survivors, POWs and other displaced people who remained in Germany following the war. Many had no home to return to. Nasaw’s book is ‘The Last Million.’
Novelist Yaa Gyasi
Sep 9 • 48 min
Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi drew on her own ‚Äčexperiences growing up in a largely white community in Alabama for her new book, ‘Transcendent Kingdom.’ In the novel, she explores themes of depression, addiction, religion and race. Her award-winning…
How Torture Derailed The War On Terror After 9/11
Sep 8 • 48 min
Former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated dozens of Al-Qaida members and other extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he got valuable information by preparing carefully for interviews and building rapport with his subjects. When CIA…
Celebrating Sonny Rollins / Octavia Spencer
Sep 7 • 49 min
Today is the 90th birthday of the great tenor saxophonist and improviser Sonny Rollins. We celebrate by hearing some of his music spanning five decades, with commentary from our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead. And we’ll listen back to Terry Gross’ 1994…
Best Of: Cherry Jones / The Early Years Of The CIA
Sep 5 • 50 min
Cherry Jones is nominated for an Emmy for her role in the HBO series ‘Succession’ as Nan Pierce, the head of a family-owned media empire. She’s also known for her roles on ‘Transparent,’ ‘24,’ and her career in the theater. We’ll talk about these roles…
RuPaul / Padma Lakshmi
Sep 4 • 48 min
Both RuPaul and Padma Lakshmi are nominated for Emmys in the best reality/competition category. RuPaul describes his drag persona as “one-part Cher, two-parts David Bowie, one-part Diana Ross and two heaping spoonfuls of Dolly Parton.” The reality show he…
Kerry Washington / Comic Ramy Youssef
Sep 3 • 48 min
We’re revisiting some of our favorite recent entertainment interviews, as we approach the 2020 Emmy Awards. Both guests today are nominated for their lead roles. In the Hulu series ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ Kerry Washington co-stars opposite Reese…
The Struggle To Protect Trump From Himself
Sep 2 • 48 min
Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘New York Times’ reporter Michael Schmidt says it’s unusual for White House officials to be so focused on preventing a president from hurting the country or breaking the law. His new book, ‘Donald Trump v. The United States,’…
Tragic Miscalculations In The Early Years Of The CIA
Sep 1 • 48 min
In his new book, ‘The Quiet Americans,’ author Scott Anderson profiles four daring and resourceful soldiers who became intelligence agents after World War II, when America was strong and respected after defeating Nazi Germany. The CIA then embarked on…
Actor Cherry Jones
Aug 31 • 49 min
Jones is nominated for an Emmy for her role in the HBO series ‘Succession’ as Nan Pierce, the head of a family-owned media empire. She’s also known for her roles on ‘Transparent,’ ‘24,’ and her career in the theater. We’ll talk about these roles, growing…
Best Of: ‘Watchmen’ Writer / Stephen Miller & The White Nationalist Agenda
Aug 29 • 50 min
The HBO series ‘Watchmen’ uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists…
Celebrating Jazz Legend Charlie Parker
Aug 28 • 49 min
Jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker created a totally new sound known as bebop, along with other virtuosos like Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. To celebrate Parker’s 100th birthday, we go to our archives for interviews with musicians who knew him…
Why We Need Widespread Rapid COVID Testing
Aug 27 • 47 min
‘Atlantic’ journalist Alexis Madrigal says millions of at-home saliva tests for COVID could be the key to life returning to normal — even if the tests are less accurate than the traditional PCR tests. We talk about the advantages and disadvantages of…
How Reagan Changed Conservatism
Aug 26 • 48 min
Historian Rick Perlstein has spent 20 years studying the roots of American conservatism. His latest book, ‘Reaganland,’ is about the events that propelled Ronald Reagan to the White House and made him a revered figure among Republicans. He says that…
CNN’s Brian Stelter On The ‘Foxification’ Of America
Aug 25 • 48 min
CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter says the president’s “cozy” relationship with Fox News is like nothing he’s seen before: “In some ways [Trump] wants to be a television producer more than a president.” Stelter’s new book is called ‘Hoax.’
How Stephen Miller Became The Architect Of Trump’s Immigration Policies
Aug 24 • 47 min
“It’s impossible to understand the Trump era, with its unparalleled polarization, without tracing Stephen Miller’s journey to the White House,” journalist Jean Guerrero writes in her new book ‘Hatemonger.’ She describes the ideological arc of Miller’s…
Best Of: Writer Carl Hiaasen / ‘Immigration Nation’ Filmmakers
Aug 22 • 50 min
‘Miami Herald’ columnist and author Carl Hiaasen talks about his new novel, ‘Squeeze Me,’ a hilarious mystery set in Palm Beach, featuring wealthy widows, the president and first lady, a scrappy wildlife removal specialist, and some gigantic Burmese…