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For immediate release
May 16, 2003
Daneil Mazone
Art Ellis

WHYY'S Terry Gross, Host of Fresh Air, Honored with Prestigious Murrow Award, for 'Outstanding Contributions to Public Radio'

Friday, May 16, 2003 -- Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air, WHYY's national weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, was awarded today the celebrated 2003 Edward R. Murrow Award at the Public Radio Conference in New Orleans.

The Murrow Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed annually on a public radio professional, is named after the legendary broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, who championed responsible, courageous and imaginative uses of the electronic media during his distinguished 30-year career. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) recognized Gross for her "outstanding contributions to public radio." Specifically, she was honored because her work over a quarter century has "fostered the growth, quality and positive image of public radio."

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, now celebrating 16 years as an hour-long daily national program, is produced by WHYY in Philadelphia and is the third most listened to program on National Public Radio (NPR). It is carried on 435 stations nationwide and is heard by more than 4,185,000 people each week. Her thought-provoking conversations are also broadcast in Europe and Japan via satellite.

This is the second Murrow award that has gone to a WHYY staff member. In 1986, then WHYY radio station manager William H. Siemering, who created All Things Considered and was to earn a MacArthur "genius award," received the Murrow honors. While at WHYY, Siemering launched the national broadcast of Fresh Air. "He championed Fresh Air, and the program's national launch wouldn't have happened without him," Gross says.

Other Murrow award winners include Susan Stamberg, special correspondent for NPR, Bob Edwards, host of Morning Edition, and Cokie Roberts, NPR senior news analyst.

"It's an honor to be in the company of the other Murrow Award recipients," Gross says. "The award is also a tribute to the efforts of Fresh Air's dedicated staff, and its executive producer Danny Miller."

Terry Gross is one of public radio's most enduring success stories. She has earned numerous awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award. Her work has been cited for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insights." A variety of top publications count Terry among the country's leading interviewers. The show is often praised for its ability to give interviewees as much time as needed to answer questions and complements those interviews with comments from well-known critics and commentators.

Today, Fresh Air is known for its interviews with prominent cultural and entertainment figures as well as distinguished experts on current affairs and news. "If you want to understand a political conflict, it helps to understand the culture in which that conflict is taking place," Gross says. "When there is a crisis in a foreign country, we sometimes call up that country's leading novelist or filmmaker to get that cultural perspective." Fresh Air's interviews have helped listeners understand the roots of religious fundamentalism, meet doctors who care for war victims, understand the difficulties facing education reformers and much more.

Of course, the people behind the most interesting books, films and music continue to be a primary subject for Fresh Air. "I try to show the connections between the person's work and their life that led to that work," Gross says.

Fresh Air is also known for its nationally recognized critics and commentators, including classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz of The Boston Phoenix; linguist Geoffrey Nunberg, usage editor of The American Heritage Dictionary; pop music critic Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly; rock historian Ed Ward, co-author of Rock of Ages; TV critic David Bianculli of the New York Daily News; jazz critic Kevin Whitehead of The Village Voice and Coda; book critic Maureen Corrigan of Georgetown University; world music and American roots music critic Milo Miles, who writes for The Village Voice and The New York Times.

Gross started out in public radio 30 years ago at WBFO in Buffalo. In 1975, she became producer and host of Fresh Air, then a live, daily show broadcast locally in Philadelphia at WHYY. Daniel Miller, now the show's co-executive senior producer, joined the show in 1978. A weekly half-hour edition of the show premiered nationally in 1985. Fresh Air premiered nationally in its current hour-long version in 1987.

Other staff members include producers Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Monique Nazareth, Naomi Person and Ann Marie Baldonado; director Roberta Shorrock; associate producers Ian Chillag and Patty Leswing; station services coordinator Dorothy Ferebee; researcher Jessica Chiu; technical director Audrey Bentham and engineering supervisor Joyce Lieberman.

Major funding for Fresh Air is provided by Barnes & Noble, The Bantam Dell Publishing Group, The National Endowment for the Arts, and NPR member stations. Fresh Air is distributed via satellite to public radio stations Monday through Friday at noon, 3 and 7 PM Eastern Time.

WHYY is what a diverse community has in common. WHYY, through television, radio and other communications services, makes our region a better place, connecting each of us to the world's richest ideas and all of us to each other.

CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, develops educational public radio, television and online services for the American people. The Corporation is the industry's largest single source of funds for national public television and radio program development and production. CPB, a grant making organization, funds more than 1,000 public radio and television.