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

  • A Marine-Turned-Journalist Returns To Afghanistan

    Jan 20 2022

    Thomas Gibbons-Neff served two tours in Afghanistan in the Marines, and is now a New York Times reporter and Kabul bureau chief. He recently interviewed a high-level Taliban commander about a battle they had both been engaged in.Ken Tucker reviews Neil Young's new album Barn.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch

    Jan 19 2022

    Cumberbatch stars in Jane Campion's Western The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank, a hyper-masculine cattle rancher living on the plains of Montana in the 1920s. We talk about how body odor helped him channel the character, toxic masculinity, and filming on location in breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand. Cumberbatch also shares stories from his past — like his experiences teaching English at a Tibetan monastery and getting kidnapped in South Africa in 2005.

  • 'Succession' Star Brian Cox

    Jan 18 2022

    Cox says ruthless business tycoon Logan Roy is one of the most extraordinary roles he's ever played: "He is a misanthrope [who] is very disappointed with the human experiment." We talk with the Scottish actor about the musicality of his voice, why he doesn't practice method acting, and growing up in poverty.Also, Justin Chang reviews Asghar Farhadi's new film, A Hero.

  • Attorney Laura Coates On The Fight For Voting Rights

    Jan 17 2022

    While working for the Department of Justice, attorney Laura Coates says she saw voter rolls being purged and instances where polling places were moved to known Klan locations. She also worked as a prosecutor and had to grapple with her own relationship with law enforcement, as a Black woman. Coates is a CNN analyst and hosts a SiriusXM show. Her new memoir is 'Just Pursuit.'

  • Best Of: Sidney Poitier / Nicole Kidman

    Jan 15 2022

    Sidney Poitier, who paved the way for Black actors in film, died last week at 94. He was the first Black man to win an Oscar. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2000 about growing up in the Bahamas and breaking into acting. A leading man in the '50s and '60s, some of his best-known films include Lilies of the Field, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and To Sir, with Love.In Being the Ricardos, Nicole Kidman shifts back and forth between Lucille Ball and her character Lucy of I Lov...more

  • Remembering Lyricist Marilyn Bergman & Dir. Peter Bogdanovich

    Jan 14 2022

    We remember lyricist Marilyn Bergman, half of a songwriting duo with her husband Alan. The songs she and her husband co-wrote won Oscars, Golden Globes and Grammys, and were popularized by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Fred Astaire and Barbra Streisand, just to name a few. She died last week at 93. Also we remember director and author Peter Bogdanovich whose best-known films include The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon and Mask. He died Jan. 6 at 82. TV critic David Bianculli reviews the 4-part docu...more

  • The Unreported Civilian Deaths In The U.S. Air War Against ISIS

    Jan 13 2022

    New York Times reporter Dave Philipps says a top-secret special ops unit disregarded official protocols to pick targets for airstrikes, resulting in the death of thousands of farmers and families. Ken Tucker reviews the new album from Neil Young, recorded in a barn in Colorado.

  • Nicole Kidman

    Jan 12 2022

    While her friends and family went to the Australian beaches, Kidman stayed indoors reading — and imaged herself as a character in the books. She says reading is what led her to acting. We talk with the Oscar-winning actor about ageism in Hollywood, singing in a cover band as a teenager, and playing Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos.

  • Remembering Sidney Poitier

    Jan 11 2022

    The legendary actor, who paved the way for Black actors in film, died last week at 94. Poitier was the first Black performer to win the best actor Academy Award. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2000 about growing up in the Bahamas and breaking into acting while working as a dishwasher in New York. A leading man in the '50s and '60s, some of his best-known films include A Raisin in the Sun, Lilies of the Field, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and To Sir, with Love. Also, jazz ...more

  • Actor Kal Penn

    Jan 10 2022

    The actor spoke with contributor Ann Marie Baldonado about navigating Hollywood as a young actor of color at a time when there were only stereotypical roles available — and why he took a break from acting to work in the Obama administration. He's best known for his roles in the Harold and Kumar franchise, The Namesake, and on the TV series House. His new memoir is You Can't Be Serious.Maureen Corrigan reviews a suspense novel that takes place in academia, The Latinist, by Mark Prins.

  • Best Of: Kirsten Dunst / The Global Supply Chain

    Jan 10 2022

    Kirsten Dunst co-stars in the new film The Power of the Dog, along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons, who plays her husband in the film, and is her husband in real life. We talk about being a child actor and the formative experience of working with Sofia Coppola early in her career. Also, we'll take a sobering look inside the global supply chain — and how it broke — with Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims. His new book is called Arriving Tomorrow.And book critic Maureen Cor...more

  • Remembering Joan Didion & Betty White

    Jan 07 2022

    We remember writer Joan Didion, known for her cool, unsentimental observations and distinctive writing. After the sudden death of her husband in 2003, she turned her gaze on her own grief in the memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. Didion died last month. She spoke with Terry Gross in 1987 and 2005.Also, we remember legendary TV actor Betty White. Her television career spanned the history of TV itself – and that's no exaggeration. She was best known for her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show an...more

  • Why Dan Bongino Is Building A Right-Wing Media Infrastructure

    Jan 06 2022

    New Yorker writer Evan Osnos says no one in the media has profited more from the Trump era than Dan Bongino, who hosts the country's fourth most listened to radio show and has 8.5 million weekly listeners. Bongino has also helped create and fund right-wing platforms that replicate Twitter, PayPal and YouTube, to lay the groundwork for the 2024 presidential election.

  • Inside The Global Supply Chain

    Jan 05 2022

    In a new book, Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims looks at how goods make their way from factories in Asia, across the Pacific in container ships and then are moved, sorted and delivered in American warehouses and trucks. Much of the handling is highly automated, he says, which cuts costs, but also lowers wages for workers and makes the remaining jobs stressful and physically punishing. Mims' new book is Arriving Today: From Factory to Front Door – Why Everything Has Changed About Ho...more

  • Rep. Raskin Reckons With His Son's Suicide And The Jan. 6 Attack

    Jan 04 2022

    A year ago, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., experienced two unimaginable traumas in the span of a single week: On New Year's Eve 2020, his son Tommy died by suicide after succumbing to mental illness. Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, just a day after Tommy's funeral, Raskin was at work in the U.S. Capitol with his daughter and son-in-law when a violent mob stormed the building in an attempt to overturn the results of the presidential election. His memoir, 'Unthinkable,' chronicles his search for answers in the ...more

  • Kirsten Dunst

    Jan 03 2022

    Dunst stars opposite her husband, Jesse Plemons, in Jane Campion's Western, 'The Power of the Dog.' She calls it a "cinematic love letter" to their children. Dunst spoke with Terry Gross about how her experience with depression helped her performance in the film, how she uses dreams to deepen her understanding of her characters, and working with Sofia Coppola as a young actor. David Bianculli reviews 'The Book of Boba Fett' on Disney+.

  • Best Of: The World Of Film Noir / Colson Whitehead

    Jan 01 2022

    We talk about classic film noir — movies from the '40s and '50s with doomed characters, sexual heat and double crosses — with Eddie Muller, host of the Turner Classic Movies show Noir Alley and author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir.Film critic Justin Chang reviews the new movie The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Also, Colson Whitehead talks about Harlem, hooligans, race and class in the '60s. His new novel, Harlem Shuffle, is about a furniture st...more

  • Dave Grohl

    Dec 31 2021

    The Foo Fighters frontman (and Nirvana drummer) talks about his journey from playing small punk clubs to giant stadiums in his memoir, The Storyteller. He reflects on how he taught himself drums, his friendship with Kurt Cobain, and reinventing himself after Cobain's death. "I was heartbroken," he says. "I didn't really know if I ever wanted to play music again, until I realized that music was the one thing that had healed me my entire life."

  • A 'Schmigadoon!' Show

    Dec 30 2021

    SNL's Cecily Strong co-stars in the Apple TV+ satire series Schmigadoon!. It centers on a couple who gets trapped in a town where people burst into song. We talk with Strong as well as Cinco Paul, the show's co-creator.

  • Remembering Desmond Tutu

    Dec 29 2021

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a legendary leader in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa, died Sunday at age 90. After Nelson Mandela was elected president in the country's first democratic election, he asked Tutu to chair South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the crimes of apartheid. Tutu preached the healing power of forgiveness. The Nobel Peace Prize-recipient spoke with Terry Gross in 1984 and 1999.

  • Fran Lebowitz

    Dec 28 2021

    To close out the year, we're listening back to some of our favorite interviews. New York iconoclast and humorist Fran Lebowitz was the subject of Martin Scorsese's Netflix series 'Pretend It's A City.' She talked with Terry Gross about driving a cab in the '70s, her friendship with Scorsese, and being a lifelong germaphobe: "The truth is, if I dropped the Hope Diamond on the floor of a subway car, I'd leave it there." Also, podcast critic Nick Quah shares three shows that stand out from this yea...more

  • 'Succession' Star Kieran Culkin

    Dec 27 2021

    On the HBO show 'Succession,' Culkin plays one of three siblings vying for control of a media empire. The character, he says, "doesn't really know what [it] means to suffer consequences." Culkin also talks about witnessing child stardom via his brother, 'Home Alone' star Macaulay Culkin.

  • Best Of: Penélope Cruz / Alan Cumming

    Dec 25 2021

    Penélope Cruz stars in Pedro Almodóvar's new film 'Parallel Mothers.' She plays Janis, a single woman around the age of 40, who unintentionally became pregnant. Cruz spoke with Terry Gross about how emotional the film was to make, and her own experience of becoming a mother.Also, Justin Chang shares his favorite films of the year.And Alan Cumming, a Tony Award-winning actor for 'Cabaret,' previously wrote about his childhood in Scotland and his abusive father. Cumming's new memoir centers on lov...more

  • A John Waters Christmas / Susannah McCorkle

    Dec 24 2021

    Terry Gross spoke to John Waters in 2004 upon the release of his album 'A John Waters Christmas,' collecting some entertaining and ridiculous Christmas records. Waters is famous for his films 'Pink Flamingos' and 'Hairspray.' Also, we'll listen to rock historian Ed Ward's 1992 review of the novelty Christmas recordings the Beatles sent their fan club. Finally, we'll hear the late Susannah McCorkle's 1988 Christmas concert.

  • The Sprawling Capitol Riot Investigation

    Dec 23 2021

    HuffPost senior justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly says "sedition hunters" have used videos, social media posts and facial recognition software to identify individuals who participated in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6. He talks with Terry Gross about the FBI investigation, and the trials of the accused. Also, Justin Chang reviews the new movie 'The Tragedy of Macbeth,' starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

  • Penélope Cruz

    Dec 22 2021

    Cruz stars in Pedro Almodóvar's new film 'Parallel Mothers.' She plays Janis, a single woman around the age of 40, who unintentionally became pregnant. Janis is thrilled to be pregnant, but in the maternity ward, she's roommates with a teenager who is very unhappy about having a baby. Cruz spoke with Terry Gross about how emotional the film was to make, and her own experience of becoming a mother.Justin Chang shares his favorite films of the year, and Kevin Whitehead remembers jazz greats we los...more

  • Life In A Sex Cult

    Dec 21 2021

    Faith Jones' grandfather founded the Children of God, also known as The Family. She was taught sex was a service to God and that women and girls should freely "share" their bodies, regardless of whether they want to. She spoke with Terry Gross about growing up in a cult and how she eventually left it behind. Her memoir is Sex Cult Nun.Also, John Powers reviews Vigil, a new thriller series about a murder investigation on a submarine, now on Peacock.

  • Alan Cumming Unpacks His 'Baggage'

    Dec 20 2021

    The Tony Award-winning actor (Cabaret) previously wrote about his childhood in Scotland and his abusive father. Cumming's new memoir centers on love, sexuality, career and mental health. Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Sea State by Tabitha Lasley.

  • Best Of: Rethinking How We Work / Memoirist Grace M. Cho

    Dec 18 2021

    Journalist Anne Helen Petersen, co-author of 'Out of Office,' talks about how the pandemic has changed the way many of us work, and the opportunity we have to create a more sustainable work model. Maureen Corrigan shares her list of best books of the year. Writer Grace M. Cho tells the story of her mother's descent into mental illness, and her own quest to understand her family's past. Her memoir is called, 'Tastes Like War.'

  • J.R. Moehringer / Remembering Anne Rice & Greg Tate

    Dec 17 2021

    J.R. Moehringer grew up with an absent dad and found a home, of sorts, in the bar where his uncle worked. His memoir, 'The Tender Bar,' has been adapted into a film directed by George Clooney. Writer Anne Rice, who died Dec. 11, grew up in New Orleans and hit it big in 1976 with her first novel, 'Interview with the Vampire.' She followed up with more than a dozen novels. Rice spoke with Terry Gross in 1990.Also, we remember culture critic Greg Tate. His whirlwind writing appeared in 'The Village...more

  • Why Child Care Is The Most Broken Business In The U.S.

    Dec 16 2021

    Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Claire Suddath explains why child care is so unaffordable in the U.S. and why attempts to provide federal funding for care keep failing in Congress.

  • Life On The International Space Station

    Dec 15 2021

    The six-part Disney+ documentary series 'Among the Stars' gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at NASA as it prepares missions on the ground and executes them aboard the International Space Station. One of the astronauts featured on the series is Chris Cassidy. Our producer Sam Briger spoke to the now-retired astronaut about his time in NASA and on the space station.Also, rock critic Ken Tucker shares his stand-out picks for music of the year.

  • A Daughter's Search To Understand Her Mother's Schizophrenia

    Dec 14 2021

    Writer Grace M. Cho tells the story of her mother's descent into mental illness, and her own quest to understand her family's past. Cho emigrated to the U.S. as a baby with her Korean mother and American Merchant Marine father. Living in a small town in the northwest, Cho says they endured racist taunts, threats and assaults. After her mother developed symptoms of schizophrenia, Cho learned more about her mother's hardships growing up under Japanese occupation, through the Korean War, and afterw...more

  • Rethinking The Way We Work

    Dec 13 2021

    The pandemic forced offices and businesses to shutter abruptly, fundamentally transforming the way people work. Essential workers remained on the front lines, but millions of others lost their jobs. And journalist Anne Helen Petersen estimates that some 42 percent of Americans began to work remotely. Now, with vaccines and boosters broadly available in the U.S., employers are beginning to craft return-to-office plans — but many employees want to retain flexibility. We talk with journalist Anne H...more

  • Best Of: Mel Brooks / Kieran Culkin

    Dec 11 2021

    Filmmaker and comedy legend Mel Brooks sits down with Terry Gross to talk about Jewish humor and the meaning of life. He's got a new memoir called All About Me! Film critic Justin Chang reviews the new Steven Spielberg adaptation of West Side Story. And Kieran Culkin, who co-stars in HBO's Succession as Roman Roy, one of the three adult siblings vying to take over their family's media conglomerate, talks about his role and the toxicity of fame.

  • Celebrating 'West Side Story'

    Dec 10 2021

    Film critic Justin Chang reviews Steven Spielberg's new film adaptation of West Side Story, and, from our archive, interviews with two actors who won Oscars for their performances in the 1961 film: Rita Moreno, who played Anita, and George Chakiris who played Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. Also, we remember Sen. Bob Dole, who died Dec. 5. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2005 about serving in WWII. And John Powers shares a list of things that surprised and delighted him in 2021.

  • The Possible End Of American Democracy As We Know It

    Dec 09 2021

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barton Gellman says the Republican party is increasingly unwilling to accept defeat and, in fact, is "prepared to win by sacrificing the essential elements of democracy." His new Atlantic article is 'Trump's Next Coup Has Already Begun.'Ken Tucker shares his thoughts on Adele's hugely successful new album, 30.

  • Halle Berry

    Dec 08 2021

    Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised on Netflix. She stars in the film as disgraced mixed martial arts fighter named Jackie Justice, who takes on MMA's newest star. Berry talks with guest interviewer Tonya Mosley about breaking ribs and continuing to shoot, being a lifelong fighter, and the lack of roles for Black women in Hollywood for much of her career. Also, David Bianculli reviews Aaron Sorkin's new film about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Being the Ricardos. And Kevin Whitehead re...more

  • Mel Brooks

    Dec 07 2021

    Brooks sits down with Terry Gross to talk about Jewish humor, therapy, and the meaning of life. He's got a new memoir called 'All About Me!' Also, Justin Chang reviews 'Drive My Car,' by Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi.

  • Kieran Culkin On 'Succession' & Child Stardom

    Dec 06 2021

    Culkin co-stars in HBO's Succession, as Roman, the youngest of the Roy siblings competing for control of the family media conglomerate. We talk about how he got the role, learning from the ensemble cast, and witnessing child stardom via his brother, 'Home Alone' star Macaulay Culkin.

  • Remembering Sondheim (Part III)

    Dec 03 2021

    On the final day of our tribute to Stephen Sondheim, we'll hear from people who worked with him, including James Lapine, who wrote the books for three Sondheim musicals: 'Sunday in the Park with George,' 'Into the Woods' and 'Passion'; music director Paul Gemignani, and Stephen Colbert and Lin-Manuel Miranda who each performed in Sondheim musicals.

  • Remembering Sondheim (Part II)

    Dec 02 2021

    Stephen Sondheim fans, like Terry Gross, always wonder: How did he write those brilliant lyrics? His 2010 book, Finishing the Hat, provided a lot of answers. It collected his lyrics from 1954 to 1981, telling the stories behind the songs. In the second part of our remembrance, we're revisiting a 2010 interview with the Broadway legend in which he gave his take on other great lyricists — and some of whose lyrics he thinks aren't really so great.

  • Remembering Stephen Sondheim (Part I)

    Dec 01 2021

    The legendary lyricist and composer who gave us 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Company,' 'Sunday in the Park with George' and other shows died last Friday at 91. We are doing a three-part remembrance of him. In 2010 he spoke with Terry Gross about his writing process, from rhyming to finding the right note.

  • Rebecca Hall On 'Passing'

    Nov 30 2021

    Hall's new Netflix film centers on two light-skinned Black women — one of whom passes for white. The story is a personal one for Hall: Her grandfather and mother were Black and passed as white. Hall talks about her own family history, the burden of secrets, and her experience directing. Also, Lloyd Schwartz reviews the new Criterion release of a documentary about making of the original cast album for Stephen Sondheim's 'Company.'

  • The Story Of The Boeing 737 MAX

    Nov 29 2021

    Investigative reporter Peter Robison chronicles the tragic story of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in his new book, 'Flying Blind.' He says Boeing failed to warn pilots that new software in the plane could cause its nose to repeatedly pitch down, a malfunction that led to two deadly crashes in the space of five months. Robison says the 737 MAX disaster is at its heart the story of a corporate culture that prized profits and shareholder value over quality and safety — and of federal regulators more ...more

  • Best Of: Dave Grohl / Will Smith

    Nov 27 2021

    Grohl talks about his journey from playing small punk clubs to giant stadiums in his new memoir, 'The Storyteller.' He reflects on how he taught himself drums, his friendship with Kurt Cobain, and reinventing himself after Cobain's death with Foo Fighters.Also, Justin Chang reviews the new Jane Campion movie 'The Power of the Dog.' And Smith speaks with guest interviewer Tonya Mosley about how he crafted a joyful image to cover up for a trauma that happened when he was 9. He saw his father beat ...more

  • Stanley Tucci / Julia Child

    Nov 26 2021

    With Thanksgiving, the season of cooking, eating, and getting together has begun. Tucci has published two cookbooks and hosted a CNN series about regional cuisine in Italy. Now he has a new memoir, 'Taste,' about his experiences with good food and cooking. Also, the one and only Julia Child, recorded in 2009.Finally, Justin Chang reviews the new Paul Thomas Anderson movie 'Licorice Pizza.'

  • Sir Paul McCartney

    Nov 25 2021

    Paul McCartney talks about his life through some of his songs. His new two-volume book collects his lyrics and the stories behind them. We'll also talk about the new documentary, 'Get Back,' which has previously unseen footage from the period The Beatles wrote, rehearsed and recorded the songs on their album 'Let it Be.' The album was released just after The Beatles broke up.

  • Dave Grohl On Nirvana & Foo Fighters

    Nov 24 2021

    Grohl talks about his journey from playing small punk clubs to giant stadiums in his new memoir, 'The Storyteller.' He reflects on how he taught himself drums, his friendship with Kurt Cobain, and reinventing himself after Cobain's death. "I was heartbroken," he says. "I didn't really know if I ever wanted to play music again, until I realized that music was the one thing that had healed me my entire life." Grohl joined us from his studio, and also played a few songs.

  • Remembering 'Schoolhouse Rock!' Songwriter Dave Frishberg

    Nov 23 2021

    Frishberg was a prolific jazz composer, lyricist, and vocalist, best known for his songs on the series 'Schoolhouse Rock!,' such as "I'm Just a Bill." He died Nov. 17 at age 88. Many of his songs were witty, including "I'm Hip" and "My Attorney Bernie." But he also wrote beautiful ballads, like "Heart's Desire" and "You are There." Frishberg came to the 'Fresh Air' studio in 1998 to play some of his songs and talk about them.