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.

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Story Archive

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Remembering Bob Wilber, A Standard Bearer For Traditional Jazz

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The kitten Hank was infected with fleas and a deadly feline virus before Hannah Shaw took her in. Hank became the cover model for Shaw's new book on neonatal kitten care, Tiny but Mighty. Andrew Marttila and Hannah Shaw/Penguin Random House hide caption

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Andrew Marttila and Hannah Shaw/Penguin Random House

How Hannah Shaw, The 'Kitten Lady,' Rescues The Most Fragile Felines

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Janet Mock attends a red-carpet event for Pose earlier this month. Mock is a writer, director and producer of the TV show about ball culture in 1980s New York City. Rich Fury/Getty Images hide caption

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On 'Pose,' Janet Mock Tells The Stories She Craved As A Young Trans Person

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'Kochland': How The Koch Brothers Changed U.S. Corporate And Political Power

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Sister Helen Prejean has written a new memoir called River of Fire, detailing her spiritual life before her activism against the death penalty. Michael Lionstar/Random House hide caption

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Michael Lionstar/Random House

Sister Helen Prejean On Witnessing Executions: 'I Couldn't Let Them Die Alone'

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'Fresh Air' Remembers Toni Morrison With 3 Conversations Over 4 Decades

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'This Changes Everything': Geena Davis On Empowering Women In Hollywood

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When she was growing up, New Yorker culture writer Jia Tolentino attended a Houston megachurch with her family. "The population was extremely white and wealthy, which my family was not," Tolentino says. "It was the kind of place where you had a daily Bible class from first grade 'till senior year." C. Elena Mudd hide caption

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C. Elena Mudd

'New Yorker' Writer Fears We're Fooling Ourselves In The Internet's 'Trick Mirror'

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Remembering Oscar-Winning Documentary Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker

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'Vision Portraits' Filmmaker Wanted To Chronicle Other Artists Who Are Blind

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Polar Photographer Shares His View Of A Ferocious But Fragile Ecosystem

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Wanda Sykes surprised herself by coming out publicly as a lesbian at a 2008 LGBTQ rally in Las Vegas. "I didn't even know that I was going to do it," she says. "It wasn't planned at all." Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix hide caption

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Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

Wanda Sykes Loves Stand-Up: That's Where 'I Can Be Free,' She Says

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Novelist Laura Lippman isn't interested in writing that sensationalizes crime. She says she aims to center her work in "a respect for victims." Lesley Unruh/Harper Collins hide caption

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Lesley Unruh/Harper Collins

'Cities Are Resilient,' Says Baltimore Crime Novelist Laura Lippman

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It may plague your summer peaches and plums, but the fruit fly is "one of the most important animals" in medical research, says conservationist Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson. Sefa Kaya/500px Prime/Getty Images hide caption

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Bugged By Insects? 'Buzz, Sting, Bite' Makes The Case For 6-Legged Friends

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