Fresh Air on WBFO

Monday - Friday, noon - 1pm

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Each week, nearly 4.5 million people listen to the show's intimate conversations broadcast on more than 450 National Public Radio (NPR) stations across the country, as well as in Europe on the World Radio Network.

Though Fresh Air has been categorized as a "talk show," it hardly fits the mold. Its 1994 Peabody Award citation credits Fresh Air with "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." And a variety of top publications count Gross among the country's leading interviewers. The show gives interviews as much time as needed, and complements them with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Fresh Air is produced at WHYY-FM in Philadelphia and broadcast nationally by NPR.

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Books
2:54 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

China Turns To Africa For Resources, Jobs And Future Customers

Over the next few years China will build a multi-billion dollar railway linking the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi (shown here), based on an agreement signed earlier this month by East African and Chinese officials. It's one of many examples of China's increasing economic engagement with African countries.
Tony Karumba AFP/Getty Images

China's economic engagement in Africa can be measured in dollars — for instance, the $71 million airport expansion contract in Mali, funded by American foreign aid, that went to a Chinese construction firm.

More remarkably, it can be measured in people: More than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved to Africa, buying land, starting businesses and settling among local populations.

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Interviews
2:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

During World War II, Even Filmmakers Reported For Duty

Maj. Frank Capra sits at his War Department desk in Washington on March 6, 1942. Capra's non-War Department films include It's A Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
AP

This interview was originally broadcast on March 3, 2014.

When America entered World War II, some of Hollywood's most celebrated directors enlisted and risked their lives. But they weren't fighting — they were filming combat.

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Music Reviews
2:03 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Two New Items From Hank Williams

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 11:46 am

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:14 am
Sat May 24, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Louis C.K., Miles Davis And A Military Dog

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

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 Interviews
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Cinematographer Gordon Willis

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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Television
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

HBO's 'The Normal Heart' Looks At The Early Days Of The AIDS Crisis

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts. Almost 30 years later, the drama is both presented and viewed differently. It almost has to be.

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Music Interviews
12:38 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Donovan To Be Inducted Into Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 1:27 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN")

DONOVAN: (Singing) Color and sky brush and blue. Scarlet fleece changes you. Crimson ball sinks from view. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear your love like heaven. Wear...

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Remembrances
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

'Fresh Air' Remembers Civil Rights Activist Vincent Harding

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The Civil Rights activist and historian Vincent Harding died Monday at the age of 82. He was the first director of what's now called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta. And his books include "Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero" and "There is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America." Harding wrote several speeches for King, including King's controversial, now famous 1967 speech opposing the war in Vietnam. Here's an excerpt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

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Book Reviews
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

A Second Posthumous Collection From Rock Critic Ellen Willis

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Ellen Willis was the first rock critic for The New Yorker is. She was also a radical feminist writer and activist. Her work appeared in the Village Voice, where she was a columnist, as well as in Rolling Stone and The Nation.

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The Impact of War
3:54 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Civilian Life Taught This Military Dog Some New Tricks

In this image from the June issue of National Geographic, Jose Armenta and his wife, Eliana, relax with their Boston terriers Oreo and Sassy, and Zenit, a German shepherd they adopted from the Marines.
Adam Ferguson National Geographic

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 4:59 pm

As a dog handler in the Marines, it was Jose Armenta's job to walk ahead of his platoon and search for roadside bombs with his dog, Zenit, a German shepherd trained for explosives detection and patrol. In 2011, while searching for IEDs planted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, a bomb they didn't detect exploded and Armenta was thrown 20 feet. He narrowly survived, but both his legs had to be amputated above the knee. Zenit was uninjured and redeployed with a new handler.

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Author Interviews
4:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How The Koch Brothers Remade America's Political Landscape

David Koch is one-half of politically and economically powerful duo known as the Koch brothers. He and his brother, Charles, are tied in sixth place on the list of the wealthiest men on the planet.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 5:08 pm

Brothers Charles and David Koch are the subject of the new book Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty. The author, Daniel Schulman, describes the Kochs as having pumped hundreds of millions into remaking the American political landscape, trying to bring their libertarian views into the mainstream.

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Book Reviews
4:10 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

'Chameleon' Has Cabaret, Spies And A Plot Fit For Lifetime

German troops march towards Paris' Arc de Triomphe in 1943.
Keystone Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 4:20 pm

Even the most restrained plot summary of Francine Prose's latest novel sounds like a teaser for a late night Lifetime TV movie. Here goes: In the Paris of the late 1920s, a butch lesbian race car driver named Lou Villars has her license revoked by the French government for daring to dress as a man in public. Lou goes on to become a performer in a risque review at the Chameleon Club, a smoky nightclub where threadbare artists and thrill-seeking aristocrats mingle in the half-light.

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Television
1:01 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

'The Maya Rudolph Show' And What It'll Take To Bring Back Variety

The Maya Rudolph Show premiered Monday night with guest appearances from Sean Hayes, Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg.
Paul Drinkwater NBC

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:40 pm

On Monday night, NBC presented The Maya Rudolph Show, a one-hour prime-time variety special executive produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring many of their mutual Saturday Night Live cohorts, including Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell. It also co-starred Kristen Bell, Sean Hayes and singer Janelle Monae. The Maya Rudolph Show was an intentional effort to bring back the old-school TV variety show, but with a new-school slant that bathed most of the show in a distancing self-awareness.

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Author Interviews
1:01 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

In Life And Fiction, Edward St. Aubyn Sheds The Weight Of His Past

Edward St. Aubyn's 2006 novel Mother's Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Timothy Allen Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 6:39 pm

The winner of the United Kingdom's only literary prize for comic fiction was awarded Monday to Edward St. Aubyn for his new book, a satire about Britain's most prestigious literary award. The novel is called Lost for Words and it was just published in the U.S.

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Television
2:47 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 2:59 pm

Louis C.K. is now commonly acknowledged as one of the greatest comics of his generation. His celebrated FX series, Louie, started its fourth season a couple weeks ago, after a 19-month hiatus.

Louis C.K. created, writes, directs and stars in the series as a standup comic named Louie, who, like Louis C.K., is the divorced father of two young girls and shares custody with their mother. Last year, Louis C.K. also had prominent roles in two films: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and David O. Russell's American Hustle.

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Fresh Air Weekend
12:03 pm
Sat May 17, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Glenn Greenwald, 'Godzilla' And Todd Barry

Reporter Glenn Greenwald speaks to reporters in Hong Kong on June 10, 2013, just days after publishing a series of reports about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 12:44 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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Music Reviews
12:05 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

In 1970, Miles Davis Played Four Sets For A New Audience

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 1:36 pm

Transcript

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

In June 1970, Miles Davis played four nights at New York's rock palace Fillmore East, following earlier appearances there and at San Francisco's Fillmore West. A complete recording of all four of those June sets are now available for the first time.

Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the jazz trumpeter had gone to the Fillmore in search of a new audience.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good evening. With great pleasure, Mr. Miles Davis.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILES DAVIS: (Instrumental)

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Interviews
12:04 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Making It In The Big Leagues Was A 'Long Shot' For Catcher Mike Piazza

Retired Major League Baseball player Mike Piazza's new autobiography, Long Shot, addresses the steroid controversy and recalls the first game after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Simon and Schuster

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 3:41 pm

This interview was originally broadcast March 7, 2013.

Back in 1988, it wasn't until the 62nd round of the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft that the Los Angeles Dodgers finally picked Mike Piazza. Nobody expected him to make it in the big leagues. But he did. He made his major league debut with the Dodgers on Sept. 1, 1992, and he hit his first home run just 12 days later.

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Movie Reviews
12:04 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

'Godzilla': A Fire-Breathing Behemoth Returns To The Big Screen

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 3:41 pm

Transcript

DAVIE DAVIES, HOST:

Since 1954, the fire-breathing behemoth Godzilla has had many incarnations. In the Japanese original he was a thinly disguised symbol of the atom bomb but in later films he would fight other giant monsters and even space aliens. In 1998 there was a poorly received American remake by Roland Emmerich. Now comes another American version at a time when the restored original is also in theaters and available on DVD.

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Europe
5:25 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Former Ambassador To Russia: Putin Has No Master Plan For Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul during a walk in Moscow's Red Square in May 2013.
Mladen Antonov AP

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:02 pm

When Russian President Vladimir Putin started vilifying the U.S., and state-controlled media took his cue, Michael McFaul was portrayed as one of the American villains. McFaul was the American ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February of this year. He planned to leave just after the Sochi Olympics, which ended up coinciding with the Ukrainian Parliament voting to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office, leading to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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National Security
11:50 am
Wed May 14, 2014

Greenwald On NSA Leaks: 'We've Erred On The Side Of Excess Caution'

Reporter Glenn Greenwald speaks to reporters in Hong Kong on June 10, 2013, just days after publishing a series of reports about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
Vincent Yu AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 4:24 pm

When Edward Snowden was ready to leak the classified documents he'd stolen from the National Security Agency, the first journalist he contacted was Glenn Greenwald. Snowden knew of Greenwald through his coverage of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping scandal, and he said he believed Greenwald could be counted on to understand the dangers of mass surveillance and not back down in the face of government pressure.

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Health Care
5:49 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

'Good Doctor' Puts Past Medical Practices Under An Ethical Microscope

byryo iStockphoto

Dr. Barron Lerner is a doctor and the son of a doctor. He grew up thinking his father was a wonderful, gifted and caring physician, which he was. But after Lerner started studying bioethics, he began questioning some of his father's practices — practices which were typical of many doctors in the '60s.

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Music Reviews
5:02 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Ray LaMontagne Finds The Bright Side On 'Supernova'

Ray LaMontagne's new album is called Supernova.
Samantha Casolari Courtesy of the artist

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National Security
4:03 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

'Frontline' Doc Explores How Sept. 11 Created Today's NSA

President George Bush examines the devastation at the Pentagon with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 12, 2001, a day after a hijacked airliner slammed into the building.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 5:16 pm

When stories began to emerge about the U.S. government's massive surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet communications, it was no surprise to a group of analysts who had left the National Security Agency soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Those analysts, who'd worked on systems to detect terrorist threats, left in part because they saw the NSA embarking on a surveillance program they regarded as unconstitutional and unnecessary.

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Fresh Air Weekend
11:09 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Fresh Air Weekend: Sam Baker And Roz Chast

Sam Baker's new album is titled Say Grace.
C. Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

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:

Sam Baker: Finding Grace In The Wake Of Destruction: In 1986, a bomb planted by the Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path exploded in the luggage rack above Sam Baker. Somehow, during his long recovery, songs focused on empathy started coming to him.

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Television
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

'Penny Dreadful' Is Wonderful, But 'Rosemary's Baby' Is Dreadful

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 3:19 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. This weekend two very different TV productions attempt to do much the same thing - revisit old works of literature in the horror and suspense genre and adapt them with new approaches for a new generation. NBC's four hour miniseries version of Ira Levin's "Rosemary's Baby" barely justifies the attempt.

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Movie Reviews
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

'God's Pocket' Is Horrifying, Humanist And Heartbreaking

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 1:40 pm

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his final film roles, stars as Mickey in "God's Pocket," the new movie directed by John Slattery. Slattery is famous for his role as Roger Sterling on TV's "Mad Men" and over the years has directed several episodes of that AMC series. He makes the transition to feature film directing with "God's Pocket" which he and Alex Metcalf adapted from the 1983 novel by Pete Dexter.

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Interviews
12:11 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Marc Maron: A Life Fueled By 'Panic And Dread'

Marc Maron is also the author of The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life As a Reluctant Messiah.
Leigh Righton Spiegel & Grau

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 1:40 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on April 29, 2013.

When Marc Maron started his podcast "WTF with Marc Maron" out of his garage in September 2009, he was in a dark place: He was going through a divorce, his comedy career had hit a wall and — in his mid-40s — he didn't have a Plan B.

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Movie Reviews
1:26 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'

Courtesy of the Criterion Collection

Originally published on Thu May 8, 2014 8:33 pm

If the road movie has a home, it's surely the United States. After all, the settling of America was itself a kind of humongous road picture — all those wagons rolling across the new continent's spectacular vastness. And with our ceaseless love of movement, we became the first people to be transported — in every sense — by the automobile. Small wonder, then, that so many famous Hollywood films, from It Happened One Night to Thelma & Louise, are all about hitting the road.

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Author Interviews
1:26 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

A Cartoonist's Funny, Heartbreaking Take On Caring For Aging Parents

Roz Chast Bloomsbury

It's never easy to talk with aging parents about the end of life, but it was maybe particularly difficult for Roz Chast and her parents, which is why her new graphic memoir is called Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

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