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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.

Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor started the podcast Ear Hustle when Woods was a prisoner in San Quentin. Woods' sentence was recently commuted, but the two continue to tell stories of life behind bars.

When Jason Rezaian moved to Tehran to pursue journalism in 2009, he knew he was taking on a certain amount of risk.

"I think everybody who goes and works in a country like Iran makes those calculations and thinks about that," he says. "You don't have to read a lot of history to know that journalists have been targeted there in the past."

Still, Rezaian reasoned, if he was careful and "played very closely by the rules" — being transparent about the work he was doing and the people he was communicating with — he would be safe.

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

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOKE UP THIS MORNING")

For about 48 hours in December, Kevin Hart was slated to host the 2019 Academy Awards. Then Hart was called out for homophobic jokes and tweets he made in 2010, and the Academy asked him to apologize.

There are countless presidential scandals in U.S. history, but very few of them have resulted in resignation or impeachment — which is precisely why MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was drawn to the story of Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's first vice president, who resigned in 1973.

Maddow notes there are many misconceptions concerning the former vice president — including the notion that his "big sin" centered on taxes.

Ben Stiller loves a good escape story. So when he heard about Richard Matt and David Sweat, two convicted murderers who used tools provided by a prison employee to break out of a New York state maximum security prison in June 2015, he was intrigued.

"What really interested me was how they were able to do this, how they were able to get away with this," Stiller says. "It seemed like such an old-fashioned sort of escape, and I thought, 'Wow, how can that happen in today's prison system?' "

Almost 10 years ago, journalist Hillary Frank was pregnant and planning to give birth without medication or surgery — but things didn't go according to her plan.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney was the quintessential behind-the-scenes political power player. "He really has no signature speech — there's no great Dick Cheney moment where he was in front of a pulpit delivering a great line," says filmmaker Adam McKay. "He's always kind of just been in the background."

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

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

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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When Emily Blunt landed the title role in Mary Poppins Returns, she made a conscious decision not to rewatch the 1964 version of the film, which featured Julie Andrews as the iconic nanny. Instead, Blunt dove into the books by P.L. Travers, from which the film had been adapted.

"I didn't want to sort of get compromised by the details of what Julie Andrews did so beautifully," Blunt says. "I knew it was going to be my version of her."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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Growing up in Swaziland, Richard E. Grant was always fascinated by acting. As a kid, he made theaters out of shoeboxes and populated them with figurines that he'd cut from magazines. Eventually he moved on to real stages, first in school plays and then with an amateur theater club.

But despite his persistent interest in acting, Grant says, "What wasn't clear is that anybody from [Swaziland] could possibly make a living and pursue this as a career seriously — that was what was deemed ludicrous."

As a criminal justice reporter for the Houston Chronicle, Keri Blakinger has a special interest in covering the conditions of prisoners — in part because she spent nearly two years locked up in county and state correctional facilities herself.

Blakinger, who grew up in Lancaster, Pa., was a competitive figure skater, but when her skating partner left her when she was 17, things began to unravel.

"I couldn't imagine a world other than skating," she says. "And I fell apart and I started using drugs."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Imagine driving alone in your car, but instead of sitting behind the wheel, you're dozing in the backseat as a computer navigates on your behalf. It sounds wild, but former New York City Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz says that scenario isn't so far off the mark.

"I was a New York City cab driver back in 1968, and I watched transportation evolve over time. I have never seen anything as rapid as what has happened this decade," Schwartz says. "Autonomous vehicles are coming."

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli sitting in for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY BATHROOM IS A PRIVATE KIND OF PLACE")

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Growing up, Bradley Cooper always wanted to be a director. He saw The Elephant Man movie when he was about 12, but instead of focusing on the actors or their characters, he honed in on director David Lynch's vision.

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