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.
Here's the Latest Episode from Fresh Air:
Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn her medical degree in the United States. Her sister Emily soon after followed in her footsteps. Janice Nimura tells the story of the "complicated, prickly" 19th century trailblazers in her book 'The Doctors Blackwell.' "To me, [the Blackwells] taught me that it's really important in this moment to kind of relearn how to admire women," Nimura says.
Also Ken Tucker reviews 'Peter Stampfel's 20th Century' a new collection from the folk musician.
Filmmaker Sam Pollard talks about his new documentary 'MLK/FBI,' based on newly declassified documents, which exposes the ways that the FBI attempted to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. Pollard talks about how the agency bugged his phones, surveilled hotel rooms, and even sent King a letter suggesting he kill himself.
Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Aftershocks' by Nadia Owusu.
The Netflix docuseries 'Pretend It's a City' features iconoclastic humorist Fran Lebowitz's conversations with Martin Scorsese. Lebowitz talks about why she loves living alone, driving a cab in the '70s, and her friendship with Toni Morrison.
Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'Cloud Script' from Joshua Abrams' quartet.
Historian Kerri Greenidge tells the story of William Monroe Trotter, a Black newspaper editor who was a forceful crusader for civil rights in the early 20th century. He built a national following in his time as a fierce advocate for the full citizenship rights that had been promised to former enslaved people after the Civil War. Greenidge's new book is called 'Black Radical.'
We look back on the lives and careers of three people who have recently died. First, filmmaker Michael Apted, best-known for his documentary series, 'Up,' which followed the lives of a group of British citizens. He updated their stories with a new episode every seven years, from childhood through their 60s. Apted died last week. We also listen back to our interview with screenwriter William Link, who co-created many long-running TV series, including 'Columbo' and 'Murder She Wrote.' Also we remember Vietnam War correspondent Neil Sheehan. He broke the story of the Pentagon Papers, and wrote 'A Bright Shining Lie,' a Pulitzer-Prize winning book about the war.
David Bianculli reviews 'WandaVision,' the new miniseries on Disney+.
News of the World' is a Western set five years after the end of the Civil War. It stars Tom Hanks as a former Confederate captain who travels from one small poor Texas town to another, reading aloud from newspapers to townspeople who gather, paying ten cents apiece to be informed and entertained by these stories. We talk with director Paul Greengrass, who also directed Hanks in 'Captain Phillips.'
Also, Ken Tucker reviews the new HBO documentary about the Bee Gees, and a new album by the only one of the three Bee Gee brothers still alive, Barry Gibb.
Historian Kerri Greenidge tells the story of William Monroe Trotter, a Black newspaper editor who was a forceful crusader for civil rights in the early 20th century. He built a national following in his time as a fierce advocate for the full citizenship rights that had been promised to former enslaved people after the Civil War. Trotter organized mass protests, confronted presidents, and openly challenged leaders such as Booker T. Washington who took a more cautious approach to Black empowerment. Greenidge's new book is called 'Black Radical.'
Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Promising Young Woman' and 'Pieces of a Woman.'
Adam Jentleson traces the history of the filibuster, which started as a tool of Southern senators upholding slavery and then later became a mechanism to block civil rights legislation. His book is 'Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and The Crippling of American Democracy.'
The Netflix docuseries 'Pretend It's a City' features Lebowitz's conversations with Martin Scorsese on many topics, Manhattan in particular. "If I dropped the Hope Diamond on the floor of a subway car, I'd leave it there," she says. Lebowitz also talks about getting expelled from school, working for Andy Warhol, and why she loves living alone.
Also, John Powers reviews the book 'The Liar's Dictionary' by Eley Williams.
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks about how learning new skills can optimize brain health. His new book is 'Keep Sharp.'
Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Outlawed,' a novel by Anna North, which she describes as 'Handmaid's Tale' meets 'Butch Cassidy.'
Journalist Maria Ressa has faced criminal charges and death threats because of her coverage of the populist, authoritarian Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. We talk about her work in the Philippines and the threats she's faced. Ressa is the subject of a new PBS FRONTLINE documentary, 'A Thousand Cuts.'
We remember the award-winning writer Barry Lopez, who wrote evocatively about nature, and in turn shed light on truths about the human experience. He died Christmas day at the age of 75. Lopez lived among the Arctic's Inuit people for five years, and raised a wolf pup for his book about the relationship between wolves and men.
Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews the new album by Chicago bassist Joshua Abrams. Then David Bianculli remarks on the live TV coverage of the insurrection led by Trump rioters on Wednesday.
The U.S. has only 4% of the world's population — and yet it accounts for 20% of all COVID deaths. 'New Yorker' writer Lawrence Wright discusses America's "plague year." We'll talk about the mishandling of the outbreak and his novel 'The End of October,' about a deadly pandemic.
Journalist Maria Ressa has faced criminal charges and death threats because of her coverage of the populist, authoritarian Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. She's covered Duterte's bloody "war on drugs," his expanding grip on all parts of the government and his crackdown on the press. In 2018, she was Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Ressa is the subject of a new PBS FRONTLINE documentary, 'A Thousand Cuts,' directed by Ramona Diaz.
Also book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Outlawed,' a novel by Anna North, which she describes as 'Handmaid's Tale' meets 'Butch Cassidy.'
German journalist Kai Strittmatter says the Chinese state has amassed an astonishing amount of data about its citizens, which it uses to punish people for even minor offenses. We talk about facial recognition, a citizen point system, and the widespread use of barcodes. Strittmatter's new book is 'We Have Been Harmonized.'
Also, David Bianculli reviews 'Mr. Mayor,' a new sitcom on NBC starring Ted Danson.
CNN's chief medical correspondent says it's never too late to develop new brain pathways. Even small changes, like switching up the hand you hold your fork with, can help optimize brain health. We talk about the importance of learning new skills, good sleep, and how stress affects the brain. Dr. Gupta's new book is 'Keep Sharp.'
Nina Totenberg is widely regarded as the dean of legal journalists. She started covering the Supreme Court in 1971 and became NPR's legal correspondent in 1975. We talk about breaking the Anita Hill story, her friendship with the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and being a pioneer for women in journalism.
The HBO series 'Watchmen' uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists destroyed a prosperous Black community.
Coppola was 29 years old when he signed on to direct a film. "I was young and had no power," he said. "So [the studio] figured they could just boss me around." But Coppola fought back. He recalled the making of his masterpiece in a 2016 interview with Terry Gross.
We close out the year with music from singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III and Nighthawks bandleader Vince Giordano. They collaborated on the 1920s and '30s style music for the series 'Boardwalk Empire' and the film 'The Aviator.' Now they've gotten together again on the new album, 'I'd Rather Lead a Band,' a collection of songs from the Great American Songbook. They talk with Terry Gross about their new record and the music of the era.
Luker died last Wednesday of ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. She was 59. She had a beautiful singing voice, and received Tony nominations for her performances in 'Showboat,' 'The Music Man,' and 'Mary Poppins.' She also starred in a revival of 'The Sound of Music.' We listen back to excerpts of several Fresh Air interviews.
Also, Kevin Whitehead remembers some jazz greats we lost his year.
Even Stephen King is feeling like he's living in a Stephen King novel these days. The author of the 1978 pandemic novel 'The Stand' says he understands why fans have said the COVID-19 pandemic feels like something out of his books. King says he doesn't feel panic or terror, but rather, a "gnawing anxiety."
Patrick Stewart is back as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the CBS All Access series 'Star Trek: Picard.' He says he's changed as an actor over the years: "I am not averse to risk-taking and I don't judge myself." Stewart spoke with 'Fresh Air' producer Sam Briger about 'Picard,'
One of the most popular shows of the year is the Netflix limited series 'The Queen's Gambit,' which has been streamed by more than 62 million households. It's about an orphaned girl who becomes a chess prodigy, then a chess pro in a male-dominated world. We hear from Scott Frank, the co-creator, executive producer and director of the series. He spoke with guest contributor Arun Venugopal.
John Powers reviews the new psychological thriller 'Elizabeth Is Missing' starring Glenda Jackson, which airs on PBS Masterpiece. And Clint Smith reads a poem about growing up in the shadows of Confederate statues.
COVID upended the movie, TV and music industries. Concerts were canceled and movie theaters were mostly closed. Still, our critics say there was some really good stuff to watch and listen to this year, and many people had more time than usual to do it. We'll hear from our TV critic David Bianculli, our rock critic Ken Tucker and our film critic Justin Chang. Also, we lost a lot of great musicians this year, our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead will pay tribute to some of them.
On a Christmas that has many of us wishing for the familiar comforts and pleasures of a holiday with family and friends, we turn to two singers whose performances have been a pleasure to return to over the years. We'll hear a 2005 interview with Rebecca Kilgore in which she sang some classic Christmas songs, and we have an excerpt of our onstage concert and 1997 interview with Rosemary Clooney.
Our TV critic David Bianculli and film critic Justin Chang sit down with Terry Gross to share their favorites of the year. Also, Vulture writer Nick Quah shares some of his favorite podcasts of 2020.
"You have a group of 650 people whose wealth has gone up a trillion dollars since mid-March," says Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies. Collins talks about how the richest Americans have profited from the pandemic, and his own relationship to generational wealth.
Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy spoke with contributor Ann Marie Baldonado about 'The Tweedy Show,' which he does from his home, and his songwriting process.
Bassett is one of the stars of the new Pixar animated film 'Soul.' She was in the Marvel blockbuster 'Black Panther' and has portrayed iconic people like Tina Turner in 'What's Love Got to Do With It,' and Betty Shabazz, Malcolm X's wife, in Spike Lee's movie 'Malcolm X. ' Early in Bassett's career, she appeared in the 1991 film 'Boyz n the Hood.' She spoke with contributor Sam Sanders about her career, and what it has been like as a Black woman in the movie industry.
Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reviews several new Christmas songs that fit the mood of this COVID Christmas.
The 'Family Ties' star was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's disease in 1991. He says that if he doesn't know if he can do something, he fakes it — a strategy that works 80 percent of the time. His memoir is 'No Time like the Future.'
Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews 'Tomorrow Will Be Better' a newly reprinted novel by Betty Smith, and Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly released album by tenor sax player George Coleman.
Riz Ahmed plays a drummer who loses his hearing in 'Sound of Metal. ' To prepare for the role, he immersed himself in deaf culture — an experience that changed the way he thought about communication and listening.
Maureen Corrigan shares her favorite books of 2020.
Bob Gruen has photographed countless rock stars, including John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Tina Turner. His new memoir is 'Right Place, Right Time.'
Sir Elton John spoke with Terry Gross in 2019 after the publication of his memoir, 'Me.' The book was pretty forthcoming about family, addiction and sexuality, and so was the conversation. A new CD box set collects rarities, demos, B-sides and fan favorites from his long career.
Also, Justin Chang reviews 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' starring Chadwick Boseman in his last film before he died this year at age 43.
'Atlantic' science writer Ed Yong says the COVID vaccination program will be the most complicated the U.S. has ever attempted: "It's going to be a slow process, and there are a lot of possible roadblocks." We talk with Yong about what the rollout process will be like, where COVID research fell short, and what to expect for 2021.
Music producers Lance and April Ledbetter talk about curating their new anthology, which collects the flip sides of the 78s Harry Smith chose for his 1952 Anthology of American Folk Music. They spoke with producer Sam Briger.
Also, we talk with 'Late Night with Seth Meyers' writer and performer Amber Ruffin. She's now got her own show on Peacock. "I've earned (hopefully) enough grace to do whatever I want," she tells contributor Ann Marie Baldonado.
Ahmed plays a drummer who loses his hearing in 'Sound of Metal. ' To prepare for the role, he immersed himself in deaf culture — an experience that changed the way he thought about communication and listening. We talk about that film, the formative experience of being racially profiled in an airport, and his breakthrough song "Post 9/11 Blues."
Also, Ken Tucker shares his favorite albums of the year.
Best-selling novelist John Le Carré, who died Dec. 12, worked for MI5 and MI6 early in his career and later drew on that experience in thrillers like 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' and 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.' He spoke with Terry Gross in 1989 and 2017 about how his work for British intelligence informed his writing.
Also, Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly issued 1971 live recording by tenor saxophonist George Coleman.
Kate Winslet co-stars in the new film 'Ammonite' as Mary Anning, a 19th-century paleontologist who has an intense love affair with the wife of a geologist. We talk about her new film and how things have changed for women in Hollywood.
Singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III and Nighthawks bandleader Vince Giordano collaborated on the 1920s and '30s style music for the series 'Boardwalk Empire' and the film 'The Aviator.' Now they've gotten together again on the new album, 'I'd Rather Lead a Band,' a collection of songs from the Great American Songbook.
Richard Nixon's first vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 amidst charges of bribery and tax evasion. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and producer Mike Yarvitz investigated the Agnew scandal in the podcast 'Bag Man.' Now their work on the podcast has been adapted into a book, 'Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-Up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House.'
Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Farewell Amor.'
White House correspondent Maggie Haberman sheds light on Trump's refusal to concede."[He] can't handle the concept of the label 'loser,' " she says. "He has never before encountered a problem that he couldn't sue away through the court system or spin away." We'll also talk about what's next for the president and the frustrations of covering this particular administration.
Lawyer Brittany Barnett works on behalf of people sentenced to harsh sentences as a result of the war on drugs. Nine of her clients have been granted clemency. Barnett's new memoir is 'A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice And Freedom.'
Critic John Powers shares his list of the year's best TV, books and movies.
Gruen has photographed countless rock stars, including John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Tina Turner. We talk about his friendship with John Lennon, why Bob Dylan doesn't like him, and surviving the party lifestyle of the '70s. His new memoir is 'Right Place, Right Time.'
Also, we remember test pilot Chuck Yeager who broke the sound barrier. He died yesterday at 97.
Winslet co-stars in the new film 'Ammonite' as Mary Anning, a 19th-century paleontologist who has an intense love affair with the wife of a geologist, played by Saorise Ronan. We talk about why the role scared her, how playing an epidemiologist in the 2011 film 'Contagion' prepared her for COVID, and how 'Titanic' changed her life.
Also, Justin Chang reviews 'Mank,' directed by David Fincher, now on Netflix.
Hugh Grant co-stars in the HBO miniseries 'The Undoing' as a charming doctor suspected of brutally murdering his lover. We talk with Grant about the "blessed relief" of taking on darker roles.
Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Ammonite,' starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.
MacArthur fellow Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in rural Alabama and has spent 20 years calling attention to the problem of people living with inadequate sanitation systems, resulting in human waste collecting in their yards and sometimes seeping into their homes. Her new book is 'Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret.'
We celebrate the life and music of influential jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, who was born 100 years ago. Brubeck's album 'Time Out,' released in 1959, was the first jazz album to sell a million copies. He spoke with Terry Gross in 1999.
Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her top 10 books of the year, and David Bianculli reviews Showtime's series 'Your Honor' starring Bryan Cranston.
President Trump has ousted his secretary of defense and the head of the Pentagon's Defeat Isis Task Force. Trump has also considered striking Iran, and is expected to pull troops from Afghanistan. We talk with 'New York Times' reporter Eric Schmitt about what this may mean for American national security.
Singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III and Nighthawks bandleader Vince Giordano collaborated on the 1920s and '30s style music for the series 'Boardwalk Empire' and the film 'The Aviator.' Now they've gotten together again on the new album, 'I'd Rather Lead a Band,' a collection of songs from the Great American Songbook. They talk with Terry Gross about their new record and the music of the era.
Grant co-stars in the HBO miniseries 'The Undoing' as a charming doctor suspected of brutally murdering his lover. We talk with Grant about the "blessed relief" of taking a break from playing nice guys, his activism about tabloid privacy, and how 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' changed his life.
A liberal voice in the U.S. Senate for decades, Senator Ted Kennedy led a life marked by tragedy and scandal. Historian Neal Gabler says Kennedy's career shaped the course of American liberalism. His book is 'Catching the Wind.'
Film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Happiest Season.' It stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as a lesbian couple trying to keep their relationship a secret during a Christmas family gathering.
Momofuku chef David Chang talks about his new memoir, 'Eat a Peach,' which details his struggle with bipolar disorder and how cooking saved his life. He also hosts the series 'Ugly Delicious' on Netflix.
John Powers reviews the gripping Romanian documentary 'Collective,' about journalists uncovering a corruption scandal.
'X-Files' and 'Sex Education' actor Gillian Anderson talks about playing Margaret Thatcher in the new season of 'The Crown,' and then coaches Terry Gross on how to imitate the former prime minster's voice.
The celebrated variety and sketch comedy series, 'The Carol Burnett Show' aired from 1967-1978 and won more than 20 Emmy Awards. The series is going to streaming services for the first time. Burnett talked to Terry Gross in 2003 and our TV critic David Bianculli interviewed her this year about her signature ear pull, why she didn't do topical humor, and why the show stands the test of time.
After 28 years of hosting late-night shows, O'Brien will be starting something new at HBO. He spoke to Terry Gross in 2019 about his early days as a comic and how late-night TV has changed over the years.
Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a newly discovered live recording by Sonny Rollins.
Momofuku chef and 'Ugly Delicious' host David Chang talks about fatherhood, mixing culinary traditions, and how depression led him to take his biggest career risks. "Momofuku was an exercise in combating depression," he says. "Otherwise, a 26 year-old with very little experience should never open a restaurant — and that's what happened." His new memoir is 'Eat a Peach.'
Also, we remember travel writer and memoirist Jan Morris. She died last week at 94.
Dr. Peter Hotez is part of a team working to develop a low-cost COVID vaccine that could be distributed globally. "Vaccines are coming," he says. "We have to get everybody through to the other side." Hotez talks about vaccine development, the anti-vax movement, and what the year ahead might look like.
In a 2017 study of a rural area of Alabama, more than one in three people tested showed traces of hookworm, an intestinal parasite spread by contact with human feces, previously thought to be eradicated in the U.S. Catherine Coleman Flowers grew up in Alabama, and has spent 20 years calling attention to the problem of people living with no sanitary means of human waste disposal, so it collects in their yards, and sometimes seeps into their homes. Earlier this year, she was awarded a MacArthur fellowship to support her work. Her new book is 'Waste: One Woman's Fight Against America's Dirty Secret.'
Also, John Powers reviews the documentary 'Collective,' about a team of journalists investigating the aftermath of a 2015 Bucharest nightclub fire that killed 64 people