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Fresh Air

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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.
405 Episodes
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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.
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 father had a secret gay life. It was adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway show. Also, Justin Chang reviews 'The Disciple,' a film about a man from Mumbai who aspires to be a great classical musician.
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 composer Bernard Herrmann, best-known for the scores he wrote for Alfred Hitchcock.
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 — particularly young Black mothers — and how to help give young families the support they need to succeed.
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 of a broken toy," he says. 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.
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 Terry Gross in 1988. "I knew that over on the other side there were 3 billion on that funny looking little planet out there, and two on the surface of the moon, but where I was that was all. Just me." Collins died Wednesday at the age of 90. Also, we hear an excerpt of our interview with Kate Winslet. She's starring in the new HBO series 'Mare of Easttown.'And Justin Chang reviews the Swedish film 'About Endlessness,' which he calls "beautifully bittersweet"
Novelist Imbolo Mbue

Novelist Imbolo Mbue

2021-04-2948:09

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 activist that inspired her new novel. Her first book, 'Behold the Dreamers,' was a 'New York Times' bestseller.Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews a new collection of Louis Armstrong studio recordings. And Maureen Corrigan reviews two stories about the bargains we strike for love — 'Early Morning Riser' and 'Secrets of Happiness.'
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.
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 of a broken toy," he says. Colbert and Terry Gross catch up on the past four years, since the Trump administration and COVID-19 changed his comedy.
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 the advertising from the companies is cueing us to remember those products and we want those products constantly."Ken Tucker reviews Carsie Blanton's album 'Love & Rage.'
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. 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 People v. O.J. Simpson.'
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 challenge conventional notions of success and failure. We talk about lost souls, appreciating the small things, and early versions of the film. Justin Chang reviews 'Moffie,' about a white gay teen in Apartheid South Africa.
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 attitudes is "a bad way to stop the behavior," He says. "The best way to regulate behavior is to regulate behavior. And that's what we can do in policing. That's what we can do in our communities. That's what we can do with policies." Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Nives' by Italian writer Sacha Naspini, newly translated into English.
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 People v. O.J. Simpson.' Vance attributes much of his career success to the dean of the Yale Drama School when he was there, Lloyd Richards, who lifted up Black performers.
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 that my childhood didn't affect me, telling myself that the military didn't affect me," she says. "I think writing, more than anything, brought that out. ... You kind of have to tell the truth or it's crap and you know it." Her new collection of personal essays is 'Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing.' Podcast critic Nick Quah reviews 'Renegades,' Spotify's podcast of President Obama and Bruce Springsteen in conversation. And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a tribute album to Ornette Coleman by Miguel Zenón.
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 of her coming to terms with her racial identity. Her father was a successful African American physician, her mother a white British woman. We talk about both books and her upbringing.Also John Powers reviews the first English translation of Kaoru Takamura's 'Lady Joker,' a crime novel that sold a million copies and spawned a movie and TV series in Japan.
'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 unearthed album from Hasaan Ibn Ali.'Finding Your Roots' host Henry Louis Gates 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 an attempt to save his mother's life.
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 a way to finally resolve what Congress thought of as 'the Indian problem,'" she says.David Bianculli reviews HBO's 'Mare of Easttown,' starring Kate Winslet.
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 at a young age.
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 lawsuits related to its practices. We talk with journalist Patrick Radden Keefe about the development of OxyContin, what the family knew about the danger of the drug, and how they have tried to thwart his reporting. His book is 'Empire of Pain.'
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Comments (331)

grey rock

I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. -- Steve Martin

May 6th
Reply

grey rock

Notable quote by Louise Erdrich: “To sew is to pray. Men don't understand this. They see the whole but they don't see the stitches.”

Apr 29th
Reply

grey rock

By writing I can live in ways that I could not survive. #LouiseErdrich

Apr 29th
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grey rock

the heart is a warehouse to feelings

Apr 28th
Reply

Old man

I wish he would quit talking about Trump we are all so sick of trump. Let's move on to other things!

Apr 27th
Reply (34)

Tom Strouse

Gosh, I just adore her. Thank you for sharing your voice and your story.

Apr 14th
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Scott Shapiro

Ms Kassis seems very nice and I imagine she's a terrific cook. As an historian, though, she's less qualified. For example, there is no definitive proof of which people invented hummus. See the BBC article of 12-Dec-2017, as an example. It was probably the Egyptians, which is where chick peas are believed to have originated, although the Lebanese and the Syrians also claim to be the inventors, which disputes Ms. Kassis's claim mentioned in this podcast, and not challenged by the inept or biased Terry Gross. The term Palestinian to describe the Arab people living in Israel is also inaccurate. The term Palestinian to describe the Arab people living in Israel began (way back) in 1964. That's right, 1964. Don't believe me? Look it up. No one, however, disputes their Arab ancestry (meaning they come from Arabia). Interestingly, there is no letter 'p' in Arabic. The letter 'b' is the replacement sound for the absence of 'p', so it is curious how these people would chose to call themselves Palestinian. Balestinian would be more accurate. But not to quibble, hummus is delicious and it is a shame, but not surprising, that Terry Gross chose to politicize this story about food as fodder for casting Israel in a negative light.

Apr 14th
Reply

Bea Kiddo

Great episode. Even if you’re not into birds, there’s some really cool information in this one. 🙂

Mar 31st
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LetItBeMe

Strange Dr. Fauci Love: or how we learned to love the man we should blame.

Feb 13th
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LetItBeMe

"Should we be more upset abou this?" Great question Terry. How bout lockdown, closures, job loss? Should I be more fucking upset? Will that help?

Feb 11th
Reply (3)

Larry Koenigsberg

Great to hear rationality making headway.

Feb 6th
Reply

LetItBeMe

Get to work on that agenda Fresh Air. There's gold in them thar politics.

Jan 13th
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LetItBeMe

CNN. How stale is Fresh Air.

Jan 5th
Reply (4)

John Reed

Turned it off when Stuart started talking about whoopi. Watched too many clips of her lying her ass off about Bernie on the view.

Dec 30th
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John Buckner

Terry expounds but with a few annoying interruptions by Stephen King.

Dec 30th
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Western intellect

Neat episode 👍🏽

Dec 23rd
Reply

Jonathan Sykes

who else expected to hear Terry say the word fart today?

Dec 11th
Reply (2)

Marcus Kenneth

people ought to read Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago"

Dec 10th
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John Reed

Instant delete. Report on what's relevant.

Dec 1st
Reply

John Reed

I listed to about 2 min and just had to delete. Obama started with progressive rhetoric and hope was euphoric and ended with the realization that any corporate dem being paid by corporations will do what benefits corporations and not us. People need to actually study what he did and just compare him to the idiot tRump.

Nov 19th
Reply (1)
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