Fresh Air

Weekdays from 2-3 PM
  • Hosted by Hosted by: 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.

In addition to Terry's fascinating interviews and features, Fresh Air's stellar roster of contributors includes classical music reviewer Lloyd Schwartz of The Boston Phoenix, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism; language commentator Geoffrey Nunberg, usage editor of The American Heritage Dictionary; rock critic reviewer Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly; John Powers of Vogue; Maureen Corrigan, book reviewer and professor of literature at Georgetown University; David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily News; and critic-at-large Gerald Early.

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"This is just metadata. There is no content involved." That was how Sen. Dianne Feinstein defended the NSA's blanket surveillance of Americans' phone records and Internet activity. Before those revelations, not many people had heard of metadata, the term librarians and programmers use for the data that describes a particular document or record it's linked to.

Kanye West is having some serious fun with us on his new album, Yeezus, starting with the title; it's a play on his nickname, Yeezy, and his penchant for placing himself just this side of the Son of God in terms of cultural importance. That's just the first clue as to how assiduously aggressive and transgressive West wants to be on this album.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 6, 2012.

In Oliver Sacks' book The Mind's Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: "In the '60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery."

Journalist Jonathan Alter sees the 2012 presidential contest as the most consequential election of recent times. In his new book, The Center Holds, Alter argues that President Obama's re-election prevented the country from veering sharply to the right.

As New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007, James Gandolfini created a character that helped open television to a new era of great and nuanced acting. When he died in Italy on Wednesday at the age of 51, fans around the world were shocked.

And as Fresh Air's television critic David Bianculli noticed, there was an instant online outpouring that celebrated "what an iconic performance he gave us in terms of television."

The revelations about secret National Security Agency programs, leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this month, have stirred great controversy, but this type of surveillance is not entirely new, according to journalist Shane Harris.

In his 2010 book, The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State, Harris traced the evolution of these surveillance programs in the U.S.

The sculptor Claes Oldenburg was born in Stockholm but grew up in Chicago, went to Yale and came to New York in 1956, where he became a key player in the pop art movement — the major counter-reaction to the abstract expressionism that dominated the 1950s. So much for art history.

Although Oldenburg is a serious artist, probably no artist in history ever created works that were more fun. In a new show at the Museum of Modern Art — really two shows — practically everyone, including myself, was walking through the galleries with a huge grin.

Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant was born in Miami to French and Haitian parents, and started singing jazz while living in Paris. Back in the U.S., she won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition in 2010. The 23-year-old's first album, WomanChild, is now out — and few jazz debuts by singers or instrumentalists make this big a splash.

Few citizens are more honored than military veterans, and there's particular reverence for those who defeated the Nazis in World War II. Like any war, however, World War II was complicated and traumatic for those on the ground, and not a few deserted from the front lines.