Terry Gross Terry Gross is the host and executive producer of NPR's Fresh Air.
Terry Gross square 2017
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Terry Gross

WHYY
Terry Gross
WHYY

Terry Gross

Host, Fresh Air

Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gross, who has been host of Fresh Air since 1975, when it was broadcast only in greater Philadelphia, isn't afraid to ask tough questions. But Gross sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrendering them. What often puts those guests at ease is Gross' understanding of their work. "Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private," Gross says. "But the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood."

Gross began her radio career in 1973 at public radio station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. There she hosted and produced several arts, women's and public affairs programs, including This Is Radio, a live, three-hour magazine program that aired daily. Two years later, she joined the staff of WHYY-FM in Philadelphia as producer and host of Fresh Air, then a local, daily interview and music program. In 1985, WHYY-FM launched a weekly half-hour edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which was distributed nationally by NPR. Since 1987, a daily, one-hour national edition of Fresh Air has been produced by WHYY-FM. The program is broadcast on 566 stations and became the first non-drive time show in public radio history to reach more than five million listeners each week in fall 2008, a presidential election season. In fall 2011, Fresh Air reached 4.4 million listeners a week.

Fresh Air with Terry Gross has received a number of awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 1994 for its "probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insight." America Women in Radio and Television presented Gross with a Gracie Award in 1999 in the category of National Network Radio Personality. In 2003, she received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award for her "outstanding contributions to public radio" and for advancing the "growth, quality and positive image of radio." In 2007, Gross received the Literarian Award. In 2011, she received the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.

Gross is the author of All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, published by Hyperion in 2004.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Gross received a bachelor's degree in English and M.Ed. in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Gross was recognized with the Columbia Journalism Award from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 2008 and an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Princeton University in 2002. She received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993 and Doctor of Humane Letters in 2007, both from SUNY–Buffalo. She also received a Doctor of Letters from Haverford College in 1998 and Honorary Doctor of Letters from Drexel University in 1989.

Story Archive

Julia Child introduced Americans to French cuisine

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Paul McCartney knew he'd never top The Beatles — and that's just fine with him

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Dave Grohl performs onstage during the taping of the 2021 "Vax Live" fundraising concert at the in Inglewood, Calif. Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Dave Grohl retraces his life-affirming path from Nirvana to Foo Fighters

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Remembering 'Schoolhouse Rock!' songwriter Dave Frishberg

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Photographer and director Gordon Parks captured the Black experience

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Neither the pandemic nor age can keep choreographer Twyla Tharp from her work

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'Twilight of Democracy' author says the autocrats are winning

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Memoir explores how racism and violence impacted 'Three Girls from Bronzeville'

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Remembering Max Cleland, former Georgia senator and Vietnam veteran

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Elliot Ackerman was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Medal for Valor and the Purple Heart for his military service. Huger Foote/Penguin Random House hide caption

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Huger Foote/Penguin Random House

A Marine veteran says the contradictions of war can make you feel insane

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Andie MacDowell says her experience with her own mother's mental illness informs her portrayal of Paula in the Netflix series Maid. Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix hide caption

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Andie MacDowell draws from the chaos and darkness of her childhood for 'Maid'

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British actor Terence Stamp reflects on London in the swinging '60s

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Investigation finds federal agencies dismissed threats ahead of the Jan. 6 attack

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Paul McCartney, shown here in 1963, says the initial rush of Beatlemania "was the fulfillment of all our dreams." Fiona Adams/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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Paul McCartney knew he'd never top The Beatles — and that's just fine with him

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'Fresh Air' celebrates master magician Ricky Jay

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