Fresh Air

Weekdays 3-4 p.m., rebroadcast 9-10 p.m.
Terry Gross

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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Movie Reviews
11:16 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Gordon-Levitt's 'Don Jon' Is An Openhearted Directorial Debut

Joseph Gordon-Levitt --€” in his writing and directing debut --€” plays Jon, a porn addict with no interest in relationships until Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) changes things.
Relativity Media

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 1:15 pm

In phe last decade, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has worked hard to establish himself as a serious actor, and he's been so successful it's easy to forget he came of age in the '90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. The guy has comedy chops, and he's exercising them again in a smart new movie he wrote and directed called Don Jon.

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Interviews
11:16 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Vijay Iyer: Self-Taught Jazz Pianist Goes 'Solo'

This interview was originally broadcast on Oct. 14, 2010.

Jazz musician Vijay Iyer started playing the violin when he was 3, but when he was 4 or 5, he wanted to play another instrument: the piano.

"The piano was around because my sister was taking lessons, and so I just started messing on it and figuring things out little by little," Iyer tells Terry Gross. "I can't really pinpoint the beginning of it."

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Interviews
11:16 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Jeremy Denk: Playing Ligeti With A Dash Of Humor

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Jeremy Denk has recently written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review.
Courtesy of the artist

This interview was originally broadcast on May 23, 2012.

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Music Reviews
2:34 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Bumpy, Bikers And The Story Behind 'Leader Of The Pack'

The Shangri-Las on the cover of the "Leader of the Pack" single.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 3:48 pm

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Health
2:34 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Big Pharma And Meth Cooks Agree: Keep Cold Meds Over The Counter

Key methamphetamine ingredient pseudoephedrine is most easily found in cold and allergy medicines.
Ann Heisenfelt AP

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 4:11 pm

Millions of Americans have seen the fictional world of meth use and production in AMC's Breaking Bad, but journalist Jonah Engle has spent a lot of time in the real world of meth.

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Television
1:50 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

'Masters Of Sex' Get Unmasterful Treatment On Showtime

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan portray pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson in a new Showtime series.
Craig Blankenhorn Showtime

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 2:34 pm

Way back in the 1950s — before people tweeted snapshots of their privates or posted their hookup diaries online — it was considered inappropriate to talk too much about sex. The guardians of culture treated it as something better kept in the dark.

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Middle East
2:39 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Meet The Iranian Commander Pulling Strings In Syria's War

Smoke rises after an airstrike hit a Syrian village on Sept. 22.
AP

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 4:22 pm

Perhaps the most important military commander in Syria's civil war is not Syrian at all. He's Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, and he's the subject of an article by Dexter Filkins in the current edition of The New Yorker.

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Television
2:52 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

TV Trips Into Fall, But These Days Who Knows Where To Look?

Capt. Ray Holt (Andre Braugher, right) leads detectives Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) on a police stakeout in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Beth Dubber Fox

We're kicking off a new fall TV season this week. A generation ago, even less, that was cause for major media focus, as new shows from the broadcast networks jockeyed for attention and position while old favorites returned with new episodes. Also back then, the Emmys were a celebration of the best, and clips from the nominated shows reminded you just why they were considered the best of the best.

But now? In 2013? All bets are off.

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Author Interviews
2:23 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

'Reaped' Is A Reminder That No One Is Promised Tomorrow

iStockphoto.com

After winning a National Book Award for her novel Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward has written a memoir that's framed by the deaths of five young men in her life. The cause of each death was different, but she sees them all as connected to being poor and black in the rural South:

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Music Reviews
11:34 am
Tue September 24, 2013

Lucy Schwartz Is In Love With Her Own Voice, And That's OK

Lucy Schwartz.
Tierney Gearon Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 2:16 pm

The first thing you notice about Lucy Schwartz's Timekeeper is the singer's voice — both her physical voice, which is at once ringing and adroit, and her writer's voice, which is precise yet elusive. When Schwartz sings "Ghost in My House," the production renders her tone in an echoing manner that signifies spookiness. It also suggests a metaphor — memory as a ghost, the haunting of someone who's no longer in her life. In general, Lucy Schwartz is in love with the sound of her own voice, and for once that phrase is not meant as a criticism; I think she has good reason to be.

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The Fresh Air Interview
1:01 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

A More Reflective Leap On Elton John's 'Diving Board'

Elton John tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that The Diving Board is "a very adult album."
Joseph Guay Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 1:18 pm

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NPR Story
10:05 am
Sat September 21, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Linda Ronstadt, Charles Manson And Robbie Fulks

Linda Ronstadt performs in 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 11:15 am

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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Movie Reviews
12:42 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Gandolfini Is So Vivid In 'Enough Said,' You Forget He's Gone

James Gandolfini plays a divorced TV archivist who falls in love with a divorced masseuse, played by Julia-Louis Dreyfus, in Nicole Holofcener'€™s Enough Said.
Lacey Terrell Fox Searchlight

Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said is her most conventional comedy since her 1996 debut, Walking and Talking. I don't love it as much as her scattershot ensemble movies Friends With Money and Please Give, but it has enough weird dissonances and hilarious little curlicues to remind you her voice is like no other. I love it enough.

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Interviews
12:42 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Soderbergh's Liberace, 'Behind The Candelabra'

Liberace sits at a gold-leafed piano in the living room of his then-new Hollywood mansion in November 1961.
Keystone Features Getty Images

This interview was originally broadcast on May 21, 2013.

Director Steven Soderbergh had been looking for a way to frame a film about the extravagant entertainer Liberace for years when a friend recommended the book Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace.

The book — a memoir — is by Scott Thorson, who for five years was Liberace's lover, though that wasn't publicly disclosed at the time.

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Author Interviews
1:06 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Years After Historic Ruling, Execution Still A 'Random' Justice

Execution witness Don Reid stands in the death chamber of the Texas State Penitentiary on July 31, 1972, where he officially watched 189 men die in the heavy oak electric chair. The Supreme Court struck down capital punishment on June 29 of that year.
AP

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 2:44 pm

In the mid-1970s, Arkansas' electric chair was being used by the prison barber to cut hair, and the execution chamber in New Hampshire was being used to store vegetables. That's because in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court shocked the nation by striking down Georgia's death penalty law, effectively ending executions in the United States. But the decision provoked a strong backlash among those who favored the death penalty, and within four years the high court reversed course and issued a set of rulings that would permit the resumption of executions.

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Bedrock 10/18
10:16 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Robbie Fulks: Exhilarating And Bitter On 'Gone Away Backward'

Robbie Fulks' new album is titled Gone Away Backward.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 1:06 pm

Robbie Fulks has been recording since the mid-'90s, making music that's difficult to categorize. He's written country songs about how compromised most country music is, and while he's fond of folk and bluegrass, he pleases concert audiences with covers of hits by Michael Jackson and Cher. Fulks' new album, Gone Away Backward, is one of his most sustained and subtle efforts.

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Author Interviews
1:33 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Bio Credits Manson's Terrible Rise To Right Place And Time

Charles Manson is escorted to his arraignment on conspiracy and murder charges in 1969.
AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 3:10 pm

Lots of listeners read all kinds of messages into The Beatles' White Album, but nothing compares to the album's impact on Charles Manson. He heard it as a message to him and his followers — known as "The Family" — that the world was on the verge of an apocalyptic race war in which blacks would rise up against their white oppressors and enslave them.

This battle would be set off by an event called Helter Skelter, after the eponymous Beatles song, and Manson planned to lead his followers into the desert, where they would hide until the chaos ended.

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The Fresh Air Interview
12:39 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Memoir, Linda Ronstadt Describes Her 'Simple Dreams'

Linda Ronstadt performs in 1970.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 9:37 am

With a career that spans rock, pop, country and everything in between, Linda Ronstadt knows no genre, only what her voice can accomplish. Her most famous recordings include "Heart Like a Wheel," "Desperado," "Faithless Love," and many more. But last month, Ronstadt revealed that she has Parkinson's disease and can no longer sing.

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Author Interviews
12:38 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Barnard President: Today's 'Wonder Women' Must Reframe Feminism

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 3:06 pm

There was a time when Debora Spar was used to being the only woman in the room. As a professor at Harvard Business School, she was surrounded by what she describes as "alpha men of the academic sort — men with big egos and big attitudes and an awful lot of testosterone."

Then, in 2008, she found herself in the opposite situation: She became the president of Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University, where "there was barely a male in sight."

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Book Reviews
12:16 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Introducing 'Miss Anne,' The White Women Of A Black Renaissance

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:16 am

Ten years ago, literary scholar Carla Kaplan released an acclaimed edition of the letters of Zora Neale Hurston. In the course of researching Hurston's life, Kaplan became curious about the white women who were in Harlem in the same period as Hurston, women who risked family exile and social ostracism to be part of the artistic and political movements of the Harlem Renaissance. Now, Kaplan has published a cultural history of those women called Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance.

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Music Reviews
10:41 am
Mon September 16, 2013

The Masters At His Fingertips, Art Hodes Pays Tribute To Bessie Smith

Art Hodes performs at the Ole South in New York City circa 1946.
William Gottlieb Library of Congress via Flickr

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:38 pm

Jazz pianist Art Hodes, born in Russia in 1904, grew up near Chicago. His recording career really took off in the 1940s in New York, where he also hosted a radio show and wrote for the magazine The Jazz Record. Later, he moved back to Chicago and the atmosphere that nurtured him.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat September 14, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Snowden Leaks, Billie Jean King And Jonathan Lethem

Billie Jean King, seen here in 1977, learned to play tennis on the public courts near her Long Beach, Calif., home.
Kathy Willens AP/Press Association Images

Originally published on Sat September 14, 2013 4:16 pm

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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Interviews
10:46 am
Fri September 13, 2013

'Totally Biased' Comic On Race, Politics And Audience

W. Kamau Bell's FXX series Totally Biased mixes standup, sketches and interviews.
Matthias Clamer

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 13, 2012.

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Interviews
10:46 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Mindy Kaling Loves Rom Coms (And Being The Boss)

Danny (Chris Messina) and Mindy learn that medicine isn't all fun and games.
Beth Dubber Fox

This interview was originally broadcast on Sept. 25, 2012.

Mindy Kaling says she loves romantic comedies, even though she wrote last year in The New Yorker that saying so "is essentially an admission of mild stupidity."

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Arts & Life
1:30 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

The Internet's 'Twerk' Effect Makes Dictionaries Less Complete

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:45 pm

Evidently it was quite fortuitous. Just a couple of days after MTV's Video Music Awards, Oxford Dictionaries Online released its quarterly list of the new words it was adding. To the delight of the media, there was "twerk" at the top, which gave them still another occasion to link a story to Miley Cyrus' energetic high jinks.

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Sports
1:30 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Pioneer Billie Jean King Moved The Baseline For Women's Tennis

Billie Jean King, seen here in 1977, learned to play tennis on the public courts near her Long Beach, Calif., home.
Kathy Willens AP/Press Association Images

Originally published on Thu September 12, 2013 4:03 pm

Women's tennis champion Billie Jean King is best remembered for her 1973 exhibition match, known as "The Battle of the Sexes," with self-proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs. But King also had a remarkable career, both as a tennis player and as a trailblazer for women: She won a record 20 Wimbledon titles, six of them for singles, and she led an uprising of underpaid female players to demand fairer treatment and compensation in professional tennis.

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National Security
2:11 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Reporter Had To Decide If Snowden Leaks Were 'The Real Thing'

According to Barton Gellman, Edward Snowden (above) specifically asked journalists not to make all the documents he leaked available to the public.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 3:21 pm

Since the beginning of June, Barton Gellman has been reporting on classified intelligence documents given to him by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor. As a result of the Snowden leaks, Gellman and reporter Laura Poitras broke the story of the PRISM program, which mines data from nine U.S. Internet companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

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Music Reviews
1:00 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait,' Now In Vivid Color

Bob Dylan in 1970, the year he released his 10th studio album, Self Portrait.
John Cohen Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 1:36 pm

In the late 1960s, it wasn't just that Bob Dylan's music was eagerly anticipated — it was music that millions of people pored over: for pleasure, for confirmation of their own ideas, and for clues as to the state of mind of its creator. In this context, the double-album Self-Portrait arrived in 1970 with a resounding, moist flop. I don't mean it was a commercial flop; it sold well.

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Author Interviews
1:00 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Woodrow Wilson Brought New Executive Style To The White House

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 3:41 pm

Woodrow Wilson, America's 28th president, left the White House in 1921 after serving two terms. But today he remains a divisive figure.

He's associated with a progressive income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve. During his re-election bid, he campaigned on his efforts to keep us out of World War I, but in his second term, he led the country into that war, saying the U.S. had to make the world safe for democracy. The move ended America's isolationism and ushered in a new era of American military and foreign policy.

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Author Interviews
12:41 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

For Novelist Jonathan Lethem, Radicalism Runs In The Family

Jonathan Lethem's other books include The Ecstasy of Influence, Chronic City and Girl in Landscape.
John Lucas Courtesy Doubleday

Originally published on Mon September 9, 2013 2:01 pm

People who don't believe in God but have an almost religious belief in causes are at the center of Jonathan Lethem's new novel, Dissident Gardens. The novel opens in 1955 Queens, N.Y., when Rose Zimmer, a secular Jew and Communist, is expelled from the party, ostensibly because the local committee disapproves of her affair with a black police officer.

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