Podcast

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.

Episodes

  • Best Of: The CIA's Search For Mind Control / Tan France Of 'Queer Eye'

    Sep 14 2019

    Stephen Kinzer's book, 'Poisoner in Chief,' exposes how CIA scientist Sidney Gottlieb worked in the 1950s and early '60s to develop mind control drugs and deadly toxins that could be used against enemies of the U.S. government. Gottlieb believed the key to mind control was LSD, and is credited with bringing the drug to the U.S. He also experimented on unwitting people in prisons and detention centers in Japan, Germany, and the Philippines.Critic Ken Tucker reviews Ken Burns' new 8-part documenta...more

  • Singer Linda Ronstadt

    Sep 13 2019

    The Mexican-American singer spoke with Terry Gross in 2013 about her career and her Parkinson's diagnosis. The new documentary, 'The Sound of My Voice,' traces Ronstadt's career from the late '60s onward.Also, critic John Powers reviews the movie 'Hustlers,' starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu and Cardi B as high-end exotic dancers who get involved in crime.

  • Where Does Our Recycling Go?

    Sep 12 2019

    Now that China isn't taking our recycling anymore, where will it go? Environmental scientist Kate O'Neill discusses recycling and the global politics of waste. "Once you throw something away, you've got to think about where's it going to go next," she says. Her book is 'Waste.' Also, critic Ken Tucker reviews Ken Burns' new 8-part documentary series, 'Country Music.'

  • Tan France Of 'Queer Eye'

    Sep 11 2019

    France, the son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants, says he almost turned down the job of fashion expert in the Netflix series 'Queer Eye.' "The thought of being one of the very first openly gay South Asian men on a major show. ...That pressure was so hard to handle," he says. But then he thought it was an opportunity to change the narrative about his community. "I've got to continue to show that Pakistanis are wonderful people, that we are caring people." His new memoir about his childhood in the U...more

  • Behind-The-Scenes Of The Weinstein Investigation

    Sep 10 2019

    'New York Times' reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct, talk about the obstacles Weinstein created to prevent their investigation, getting actors to speak on the record, and the final showdown at the 'NYT' before publishing. Their book is 'She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement.'Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews the album, 'Love & Liberation,' from jazz singer and composer Jazzmeia Horn.

  • The CIA's Secret Search For Mind Control

    Sep 09 2019

    Stephen Kinzer's book, 'Poisoner in Chief,' exposes how CIA scientist Sidney Gottlieb worked in the 1950s and early '60s to develop mind control drugs and deadly toxins that could be used against enemies of the U.S. government. Gottlieb believed the key to mind control was LSD, and is credited with bringing the drug to the U.S. He also experimented on unwitting people in prisons and detention centers in Japan, Germany, and the Philippines. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Margaret Atwo...more

  • Best Of: Janet Mock On 'Pose' / Elvis' Guitarist James Burton

    Sep 07 2019

    Janet Mock made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct an episode of TV for her work on Ryan Murphy's FX series 'Pose.' The show centers on the trans and queer ball culture in New York City in the '80s and '90s. Mock talks with Terry Gross about drawing from her own life to write for 'Pose' and growing up in Hawaii. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Yellow House,' Sarah M. Broom's extraordinary memoir about the New Orleans home in which she grew up.Guitarist ...more

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal On 'The Deuce'

    Sep 06 2019

    Gyllenhaal produces and stars in the HBO series, 'The Deuce.' The show centers on sex work, porn, organized crime, politics and feminism in 1970s New York. The new season, which begins Sept. 9, jumps to the 1980s. (Originally broadcast Sept. 2018)Also, Ken Tucker reviews Lana Del Rey's new album, 'Norman F****** Rockwell!' And TV critic David Bianculli reviews two recently released DVDs about entertainment and entertainers from long ago: one featuring a singing satirist from the '60s, the other ...more

  • Trump's Businesses & Conflicts Of Interest

    Sep 05 2019

    Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Washington Post' reporter David Fahrenthold says in the past, an honor system helped keep presidents from using the office to benefit themselves. Not Trump: "He exploits honor systems." Fahrenthold's beat is following the Trump businesses and the possible conflicts of interest that arise. Also, critic Kevin Whitehead reviews an album by Ben Goldberg that unites jazz and poetry.

  • Fentanyl & The Dark Web

    Sep 04 2019

    'Fentanyl, Inc.' author Ben Westhoff says the synthetic opioid, while useful in hospitals, is killing more Americans as a street drug than any other in U.S. history. More than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year. Westhoff talks about how it moves from China to your corner. Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'The Yellow House,' Sarah M. Broom's extraordinary memoir about the New Orleans home in which she grew up.

  • Elvis' Guitarist James Burton

    Sep 03 2019

    Burton, who went professional at age 14, played in Ricky Nelson's band, and has been on hundreds of recordings, including those by Frank Sinatra and Johnny Cash. You can hear him on the new box set, 'Elvis: Live 1969.'Also, Ken Tucker reviews Chuck Cleaver's new solo album, 'Send Aid.' And Justin Chang reviews 'Give Me Liberty,' a screwball comedy by director Kirill Mikhanovsky. It follows the driver of a medical transport van and his passengers over the course of a busy 24 hours in Milwaukee.

  • Emmys Week: 'BoJack Horseman' Creator / 'Pen15' Creators

    Sep 02 2019

    Raphael Bob-Waksberg's Emmy-nominated animated Netflix series satirizes Hollywood using a mix of human and animal characters. "Part of the original pitch was like, 'What's Mr. Ed like behind the scenes?'" BoJack (a horse) is a depressed, alcoholic, sexist former sitcom star in the #MeToo era.From braces to bullies, middle school is a period of adolescence that might best be described as cringe-worthy.​ In the Emmy-nominated Hulu series 'PEN15,' actors Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, who are in the...more

  • Best Of: Sister Helen Prejean / Breakthroughs In Heart Health

    Aug 31 2019

    Sister Helen Prejean is best known for her 1993 memoir, 'Dead Man Walking,' about her role as a spiritual adviser to a convicted killer on death row. The story was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Prejean has accompanied six prisoners to their executions and has been at the forefront of activism against the death penalty. Her new memoir, 'River of Fire,' details her spiritual journey up to that point.John Powers reviews the Netflix documentary 'American F...more

  • Emmys Week: Billy Eichner & Randy Rainbow

    Aug 30 2019

    Billy Eichner's Emmy-nominated series, 'Billy on the Street,' turns open ended questions about pop culture and celebrities into a game show. He talked with Terry Gross in 2016 about coming up with the concept of his man-on-the-street series. Randy Rainbow writes and performs satirical songs about President Trump set to the melodies of show tunes. "I always considered song parody kind of cheap," the Emmy-nominated performer says. "But ... I've gotten [such a] response from others ... that I'm app...more

  • Emmys Week: Natasha Lyonne & Christina Applegate

    Aug 29 2019

    Natasha Lyonne's character on the Netflix series 'Russian Doll' keeps dying and coming back to life. It's a premise that strikes a chord with the actor; Lyonne had a near-death experience in 2005. She talks with Terry Gross about how that experience informs her work and wanting to be a "tough guy." She's nominated for two Emmys — one for writing and one for starring in the series. Christina Applegate is nominated for her role in the Netflix series 'Dead to Me,' opposite Linda Cardellini, as a wo...more

  • Emmys Week: Ava DuVernay & Michael K. Williams

    Aug 28 2019

    Ava DuVernay is the producer, writer and director of the Netflix series 'When They See Us,' which has 16 Emmy nominations. Told from the perspective of the "Central Park Five" — five black and brown teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of assault and rape in 1989 — the series examines how how officials manipulated the boys into giving false confessions.We'll also hear from actor Michael K. Williams, who's nominated for his performance in 'When They See Us' as the father of Antron McCray, one...more

  • Emmys Week: Phoebe Waller-Bridge / Ben Stiller & Patricia Arquette

    Aug 27 2019

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge is nominated for 5 Emmys for creating and starring in the Amazon series 'Fleabag.' She plays a 30-something single Londoner who is navigating tense relationships with her family, grieving the loss of her best friend — and falling in love with a Catholic priest. Also, Ben Stiller talks about directing the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' based on a real-life prison break story. The series has a total of 12 nominations, including one for Patricia Arquette, who plays a pr...more

  • Emmys Week: Bill Hader & John Mulaney

    Aug 26 2019

    Actor Bill Hader is nominated for acting in and writing the HBO dark comedy series, 'Barry,' in which he plays a hitman who enrolls in acting classes. He talks about coming up with the concept of the series and struggling with anxiety during his years on 'Saturday Night Live.' Comic John Mulaney spent five years as a writer and producer on 'SNL,' but was "absolutely terrified" when he came back to host. Now he's up for an Emmy for his episode. Mulaney talks about writing monologues for famous gu...more

  • Best Of: Exploring Underwater Caves / Character Actor Stephen Root

    Aug 24 2019

    Diver and photographer Jill Heinerth talks about some of her most dangerous and exhilarating experiences underwater — like getting trapped inside an iceberg in Antarctica. Heinerth also shares how she stays calm when things go wrong: "I take a really deep breath and try and slow my heart, slow my breathing, and then just focus on pragmatic small steps," she says. Her new book is 'Into the Planet.'Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Brittany Runs a Marathon,' starring Jillian Bell. And after ...more

  • Remembering Peter Fonda

    Aug 23 2019

    The Oscar-nominated actor and screenwriter, who died Aug. 16, spoke to Terry Gross in 1998 about 'Ulee's Gold,' 'Easy Rider' and his acting philosophy of "doing less — and making more of it."Also, Ken Tucker reviews three songs that he says offer different takes on — and moods for — the summer.And John Powers reviews the Netflix documentary 'American Factory,' about what happens when a Chinese company opens a factory in Ohio.

  • Tracing The Course Of The Opioid Epidemic

    Aug 22 2019

    'Washington Post' investigative journalist Scott Higham says recently released evidence shows the drug industry purposely shipped large quantities of pills to certain communities in pursuit of greater profits. "Small cities and counties in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania have just been devastated," he says. "The death rates just soared in those places where the pills were being dumped." Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Late Migrations' by Margaret Renkl, which she calls "a perfect book to read ...more

  • Character Actor Stephen Root

    Aug 21 2019

    After appearing in nearly 800 TV episodes and 100 films, Root received his first Emmy nomination for his role as a handler to a hitman in the HBO series 'Barry.' He also talks about his iconic roles in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and 'Office Space.' Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'Begin Again' from pianist Fred Hersch, and film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Brittany Runs a Marathon,' starring Jillian Bell.

  • The Renegade Anthropologists Who Reinvented How We Think About Race & Gender

    Aug 20 2019

    In his new book, 'Gods of the Upper Air,' Charles King tells the story of Franz Boas, Margaret Mead and the other 20th century anthropologists who challenged outdated notions of race, class and gender. Also, linguist Geoff Nunberg discusses the language he calls "chatspeak."

  • Exploring Underwater Caves

    Aug 19 2019

    Diver and photographer Jill Heinerth talks about some of her most dangerous and exhilarating experiences underwater — like getting trapped inside an iceberg in Antarctica. Heinerth also shares how she stays calm when things go wrong: "I take a really deep breath and try and slow my heart, slow my breathing, and then just focus on pragmatic small steps," she says. Her new book is 'Into the Planet.' Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews two mystery novels — Laura Lippman's 'Lady in the Lake' ...more

  • Best Of: Colson Whitehead / A Bioethicist's Personal Struggle With Opioids

    Aug 17 2019

    Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Colson Whitehead's new book, 'The Nickel Boys,' is based on the true story of a notorious Florida reform school where many boys were beaten and sexually abused. Dozens of unmarked graves were discovered on the school grounds, which the state shut down in 2011. Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel, and then the author speaks with contributor Dave Davies. Travis Rieder became dependent on opioids after a motorcycle accident in 2015 that crushed his left foot, and forc...more

  • Actor Jonathan Groff

    Aug 16 2019

    Groff stars in the crime-thriller series 'Mindhunter,' now in its second season on Netflix. He also talks about his roles on HBO's 'Looking,' and as King George III in 'Hamilton' on Broadway. (Originally broadcast October 2017) Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette?' starring Cate Blanchett, directed by Richard Linklater.

  • Kitten Lady

    Aug 15 2019

    Hannah Shaw's job title is "professional kitten rescuer." Known on YouTube and Instagram as Kitten Lady, she has rescued hundreds of neonatal kittens, often orphaned and unweaned, who require a level of care that most shelters cannot provide. That's where Shaw steps in. Her new book about fostering kittens is 'Tiny but Mighty.'Also, we remember late jazz saxophonist and clarinetist Bob Wilber. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1988. And TV critic David Bianculli reviews 'Why Women Kill,' a mystery an...more

  • Janet Mock On 'Pose'

    Aug 14 2019

    Mock made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct an episode of TV for her work on Ryan Murphy's FX series 'Pose.' The show centers on the trans and queer ball culture in New York City in the '80s and '90s. Mock talks with Terry Gross about drawing from her own life to write for 'Pose,' growing up in Hawaii, and doing sex work as a young person to save money for reassignment surgery.

  • The 'Secret History' Of Koch Industries

    Aug 13 2019

    In his new book, 'Kochland,' journalist Christopher Leonard chronicles how Koch Industries and Charles and David Koch acquired huge businesses, limited their liability and created a political influence network to remake the Republican Party. Leonard says President Trump is a threat to that vision.

  • Sister Helen Prejean

    Aug 12 2019

    Prejean is best known for her 1993 memoir, 'Dead Man Walking,' about her role as a spiritual adviser to a convicted killer on death row. The story was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Prejean has accompanied six prisoners to their executions and has been at the forefront of activism against the death penalty. "I read scripture to them. ... All I knew was: I couldn't let them die alone." Her new memoir, 'River of Fire,' details her spiritual journey up to ...more

  • Best Of: Filmmaker Rodney Evans / Writer Jia Tolentino

    Aug 10 2019

    Rodney Evans is still making movies, despite having lost much of his vision. His new documentary, 'Vision Portraits,' is about how he and three other blind or visually impaired artists (a photographer, a dancer, and a writer) continue to do their work.Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the use of the word "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun.'New Yorker' staff writer Jia Tolentino writes about how social media shapes identity, public discourse and political engagement, particularly for millennials l...more

  • Remembering Toni Morrison

    Aug 09 2019

    The Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'Beloved,' 'The Bluest Eye,' 'Sula,' 'Song of Solomon,' and other novels, essays and children's books died Monday at 88. She was known for her precise, poetic prose. Her books drew from the black oral tradition — African American folktales, and the ghost stories she was told as a child. Morrison spoke with Terry Gross in 1987, 1992, and 2015.

  • Disinformation & The Murder Of Seth Rich

    Aug 08 2019

    In July of 2016, Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in his D.C. neighborhood. Police think he was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. But Russian intelligence operatives planted a fake report claiming that Rich was the person who gave DNC emails to Wikileaks, and was then murdered by assassins working for Hillary Clinton. In the podcast 'Conspiracyland,' journalist Michael Isikoff explores how the murder of Rich was turned into a conspiracy theory — and how Russian trol...more

  • Discrimination Against Women In Hollywood (With Geena Davis & Maria Giese)

    Aug 07 2019

    The new documentary 'This Changes Everything' explores how women in Hollywood are pushing for more representation in front of and behind the camera. Actor Geena Davis and director Maria Giese talk with Terry Gross about the dramatic disparities on screen. Davis also discusses her career in films, including 'Tootsie' and 'Thelma & Louise.'Bruce Talamon has photographed Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Diana Ross, Bob Marley, Patti LaBelle ... the list goes on. A new book shows his work fr...more

  • Jia Tolentino On Feminism, Ecstasy & The Internet

    Aug 06 2019

    'New Yorker' staff writer Jia Tolentino writes about how social media shapes identity, public discourse and political engagement, particularly for millennials like herself. She talks about growing up in a Houston megachurch, her devastating year in the Peace Corps, and how religion led her to MDMA. Her new book of essays is 'Trick Mirror.' Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the use of the word "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun, and jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the new album, 'The Balance,'...more

  • 'Vision Portraits' Focuses On Visually Impaired Artists

    Aug 05 2019

    Filmmaker Rodney Evans is still making movies, despite having lost much of his vision. His new documentary, 'Vision Portraits,' is about how he and three other blind or visually impaired artists (a photographer, a dancer, and a writer) continue to do their work.Also, we remember Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, who died Aug. 1. He pioneered a cinéma vérité style of filmmaking with 'Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back' and 'The War Room.' Pennebaker spoke with Terry Gross in 1989.

  • Best Of: Comic Wanda Sykes / Crime Novelist Laura Lippman

    Aug 03 2019

    Wanda Sykes' latest Netflix stand-up special, 'Not Normal,' is nominated for two Emmys. She talks with Terry Gross about doing comedy in the Trump era, getting booed for criticizing the president, and coming out publicly at an LGBTQ rally. Laura Lippman's new novel, 'Lady in the Lake,' set in the 1960s, centers on Maddie Schwartz, who leaves her marriage, gets a job at Baltimore's newspaper, and begins investigating the mysterious death of a young black woman. Lippman talks about her own experi...more

  • Polar Photographer Paul Nicklen

    Aug 02 2019

    Paul Nicklen has spent decades documenting the Arctic, Antarctic and the effects of climate change. He talks about some of the dangerous situations he's been in while on the job. "I'm not really scared of death, I just want my death to be cool, and I guess being speared by a narwhal would be a pretty cool way to go." (Originally broadcast in June 2017) Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Luce.'

  • Comic Wanda Sykes

    Aug 01 2019

    Sykes talks about coming out publicly at an LGBTQ rally, her double mastectomy, and her career before comedy — working for the National Security Agency. Sykes' latest Netflix stand-up special, 'Not Normal,' is nominated for two Emmys.

  • How Tech Companies Track Your Every Move & Sell Your Data

    Jul 31 2019

    'Washington Post' tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler talks about how web browsers, phone apps, and smart speakers are tracking users, even when they're asleep. Fowler listened to four years' worth of audio that Amazon had captured and stored from his Alexa smart speaker — and was surprised by what he found.Soraya Nadia McDonald reviews the final season of Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black,' set in a immigration detention center.

  • Crime Novelist Laura Lippman

    Jul 30 2019

    Lippman's new novel, 'Lady in the Lake,' set in the 1960s, centers on Maddie Schwartz, who leaves her marriage, gets a job at Baltimore's newspaper, and begins investigating the mysterious death of a young black woman. Lippman talks about her own experience in newsrooms as a reporter, deciding to become a mother in her 50s, and losing her friend Rob Hiaasen in the 'Capital Gazette' shooting last year.

  • Why We Need Insects / Illustrator Lisa Hanawalt

    Jul 29 2019

    Conservation biologist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson warns that the world's insect population is on the decline — which may have serious consequences for human beings and many other species. Sverdrup-Thygeson talks about eating insects for protein, the ripple effect of insect species dying off, and how cockroaches might save your life. Her book is 'Buzz, Sting, Bite.' Illustrator Lisa Hanawalt spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger about channeling anxiety into art. "Drawing is way of exorcising fe...more

  • Best Of: 'The Farewell' Director Lulu Wang / The Nocturnal Brain

    Jul 27 2019

    When Lulu Wang's grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live, the family flew to China to see her, but decided not to tell her the prognosis. "I turned out to be a surprisingly good liar," Wang says. Her new film 'The Farewell,' starring Awkwafina, is based on her family's lie. Justin Chang reviews Quentin Tarantino's new film, 'Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood.' Neurologist Dr. Guy Leschziner, author of 'The Nocturnal Brain,' says sleep is not a binary state, ...more

  • Ranky Tanky

    Jul 26 2019

    In 2017, three members of Ranky Tanky, a band that takes inspiration from the Gullah people, performed songs from their self-titled debut album. It builds on the music and culture of slave descendants. Their new album is 'Good Time.'Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews Quentin Tarantino's new film, 'Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood.'

  • Jane Mayer On The Case Of Al Franken

    Jul 25 2019

    The 'New Yorker' investigative reporter recently did a deep dive into the accusations of sexual misconduct that forced Sen. Franken to resign in 2017. Mayer says the chief accuser's story is full of holes. "I certainly knew that we were sort of kicking a hornet's nest by even doing this story," Mayer says, "I think that we ought to be able to report on everything."

  • Filmmaker Lulu Wang On 'The Farewell' & Her Family's Real Life Lie

    Jul 24 2019

    When Lulu Wang's grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live, the family flew to China to see her, but decided not to tell her the prognosis. "I turned out to be a surprisingly good liar," Wang says. Her new film 'The Farewell,' starring Awkwafina, is based on her family's lie. Also, Ken Tucker reviews a new album from husband and wife duo Buddy and Julie Miller, 'Breakdown on 20th Ave. South.'

  • Sleep Disorders & The Nocturnal Brain

    Jul 23 2019

    Neurologist Dr. Guy Leschziner, author of 'The Nocturnal Brain,' says sleep is not a binary state, and the brain can be in multiple stages of sleep at once. That can explain why people sometimes walk, eat, and even have sex while sleeping. He talks about insomnia, medication, and some of the more unusual disorders he has treated. Also, we remember Paul Krassner, who died July 21. He published and edited the magazine 'The Realist' from 1958 until 1974 and became known as "the father of the underg...more

  • Breakthroughs In Heart Health

    Jul 22 2019

    Dr. Haider Warraich talks about advancements in treating and preventing heart failure, and explains how the understanding of healthy blood pressure and good cholesterol continues to evolve. His book is 'State of the Heart.' Also, TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new Hulu revival of 'Veronica Mars,' starring Kristen Bell.

  • Best Of: TV Critic Emily Nussbaum / Satirist Randy Rainbow

    Jul 20 2019

    Emily Nussbaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic for 'The New Yorker,' talks about the art of "terrible men" in the #MeToo era and TV's revolution (from low brow to high art). Her new book of essays and reviews is 'I Like to Watch.'Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'Copperhead' by Alexi Zentner. Randy Rainbow writes and performs satirical songs about President Trump set to melodies of show tunes. "I always considered song parody kind of cheap," the Emmy-nominated performer says. "But ......more

  • 50th Anniversary Of The Moon Landing

    Jul 19 2019

    For the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, we're listening back to archival interviews with Michael Collins, who circled the moon in the command capsule while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were on the moon's surface; Alan Shepard, the first American in space; Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield; and test pilot Chuck Yeager, the first to break the sound barrier.