'Fresh Air' at 20: Anthropologist Robert Murphy Fresh Air went national in 1987, and we're celebrating that 20th anniversary by revisiting some classic broadcasts. In this segment: Anthropologist Robert Murphy. In 1972, his body began to twinge with muscle spasms that wouldn't go away; doctors discovered a debilitating tumor growing on his spinal cord. Murphy was a professor of anthropology at Columbia University at the time, and as his condition worsened, his interest in the social and cultural consequences of paralysis deepened. He became the subject of his own field research. The result was his award winning book, The Body Silent: The Different World of the Disabled, published in 1987. Murphy died in October 1990. Rebroadcast from May 13, 1987.