Terry Gross
Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air
Fresh Air
Fresh Air is an American radio talk show broadcast on National Public Radio stations across the United States. The show is produced by WHYY-FM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Its longtime host is Terry Gross. , the show was syndicated to 450 stations and claimed 4.5 million listeners. The show...

, an interview format radio show
Talk radio
Talk radio is a radio format containing discussion about topical issues. Most shows are regularly hosted by a single individual, and often feature interviews with a number of different guests. Talk radio typically includes an element of listener participation, usually by broadcasting live...

 produced by WHYY-FM
WHYY-FM is an NPR member station serving the Delaware Valley area, which is the metro area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The station is located in Philadelphia. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.-History:...

 in Philadelphia and distributed throughout the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by National Public Radio.

Gross has won praise over the years for her low-key and friendly yet often probing interview style and for the diversity of her guests. She has a reputation for researching her guests' work largely the night before an interview, often asking them unexpected questions about their early career.

Life and career

Gross grew up in Sheepshead Bay
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
Sheepshead Bay is a bay separating the mainland of Brooklyn, New York City from the eastern portion of Coney Island, the latter originally a barrier island but now effectively an extension of the mainland with peninsulas both east and west...

, Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 in a Jewish family. She earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in communications from the State University of New York at Buffalo
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, also commonly known as the University at Buffalo or UB, is a public research university and a "University Center" in the State University of New York system. The university was founded by Millard Fillmore in 1846. UB has multiple campuses...

. She began a teaching career, but said that she was "totally unequipped" for the job, and was fired after only six weeks.

Gross began her radio career in 1973 at WBFO
WBFO, broadcast on 88.7 FM, is the largest NPR member station for Buffalo, New York. It is broadcast from the South campus of the University at Buffalo....

, a public radio
Public broadcasting
Public broadcasting includes radio, television and other electronic media outlets whose primary mission is public service. Public broadcasters receive funding from diverse sources including license fees, individual contributions, public financing and commercial financing.Public broadcasting may be...

 station in Buffalo, New York
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

, where she had been volunteering. In 1975, she moved to WHYY-FM
WHYY-FM is an NPR member station serving the Delaware Valley area, which is the metro area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The station is located in Philadelphia. Its transmitter is located in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia.-History:...

 in Philadelphia to host and produce Fresh Air, which was a local interview program at the time. In 1985, Fresh Air with Terry Gross went national, being distributed weekly by NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

. It became a daily program two years later.

She also starred as a guest-voice on The Simpsons
The Simpsons
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its family of the same name, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie...

as herself.

Interview style

The San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
thumb|right|upright|The Chronicle Building following the [[1906 San Francisco earthquake|1906 earthquake]] and fireThe San Francisco Chronicle is a newspaper serving primarily the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California, but distributed throughout Northern and Central California,...

wrote that Gross's interviews are "a remarkable blend of empathy, warmth, genuine curiosity, and sharp intelligence." Gross prides herself on preparation; prior to interviewing guests, she reads their books, watches their movies, and/or listens to their CDs. The Boston Phoenix opined that "Terry Gross…is almost certainly the best cultural interviewer in America, and one of the best all-around interviewers, period. Her smart, thoughtful questioning pushes her guests in unlikely directions. Her interviews are revelatory in a way other people's seldom are."

Gross treats different guests differently, depending on a variety of factors. She is often perceived as more challenging with political figures to the right than with people to the left of center, and the same is perceived with guests who are in the arts, who may be less prepared for such interviews and less prone to expressing themselves in canned "sound-bites."

Clashes with guests

Gross has drawn added public attention following some occasions when she has clashed with her guests, including these:
  • The February 4, 2002 interview with Kiss
    KISS (band)
    Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well-known for its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting,...

     lead singer and bassist
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

     Gene Simmons
    Gene Simmons
    Gene Simmons is an Israeli-American entrepreneur, singer-songwriter, actor, and rock bassist. Known as "The Demon", he is the bassist/vocalist of Kiss, a hard rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s.-Early life:...

     began with Gross mispronouncing Simmons' original Hebrew last name. Simmons dismissively replied to her that she mispronounced it because she had a Gentile
    The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

     mouth. Gross replied that her mouth was not Gentile. Gross questioned Simmons' views on the importance of money. In the interview Gross begins a question "so having sex with you" to which Simmons interjects, "you're going to have to stand in line." Gross continued with questioning Simmons about his many liaisons. Later Simmons said "If you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs," to which Gross replied, "That's a really obnoxious thing to say." Unlike most Fresh Air guests, Simmons refused to grant permission for the interview to be made available online on NPR. However, the interview appears in Gross's book All I Did Was Ask, and unauthorized transcripts and audio of the complete original interview exist.
  • An October 8, 2003 interview with Fox News television host Bill O'Reilly
    Bill O'Reilly (commentator)
    William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator. He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news television program on American television...

    , who walked out of the interview because of what he considered were biased questions, creating a media controversy fed by the ongoing presidential campaign. Toward the end of the interview, O'Reilly asked Gross if she had been as tough on Al Franken
    Al Franken
    Alan Stuart "Al" Franken is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which affiliates with the national Democratic Party....

    , who had appeared on the program two weeks before O'Reilly. Gross responded, "No, I wasn't...we had a different interview." Gross was later criticized by then NPR ombudsman
    An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

     Jeffrey Dvorkin
    Jeffrey Dvorkin
    Jeffrey A. Dvorkin is a Canadian-American journalist.A former Vice President of News and ombudsman for National Public Radio, Dvorkin moved to the United States in 1997 following a lengthy career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and Montreal, where he was Managing Editor and...

     for "an interview that was, in the end, unfair to O'Reilly" and that "it felt as though Terry Gross was indeed 'carrying Al Franken's water.'" Dvorkin described Gross's interviewing tactic of reading a quote critical of O'Reilly after he had walked out of the room as "unethical and unfair". Gross was later supported by an NPR colleague, Mike Pesca
    Mike Pesca
    Mike Pesca is a Jewish American radio journalist based in New York City. He serves as a National Desk correspondent for National Public Radio , and is a panelist on Slate magazine's weekly sports podcast Hang Up and Listen....

    , who contended that O'Reilly did have the opportunity to respond to a criticism that Gross read to O'Reilly leveled by People magazine
    People (magazine)
    In 1998, the magazine introduced a version targeted at teens called Teen People. However, on July 27, 2006, the company announced it would shut down publication of Teen People immediately. The last issue to be released was scheduled for September 2006. Subscribers to this magazine received...

     but that he defaulted by prematurely abandoning the interview. On September 24, 2004, Gross and O'Reilly met again on O'Reilly's television show in which Gross assured O'Reilly "that no matter what you ask me, I'm staying for the entire interview."
  • A February 9, 2005, interview of Lynne Cheney
    Lynne Cheney
    Lynne Ann Cheney is the wife of former United States Vice President Dick Cheney and served as the Second Lady of the United States from 2001 to 2009...

    , conservative author and wife of then-Vice President Dick Cheney
    Dick Cheney
    Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

    . The initial focus of the interview was on Cheney's latest history book, but Gross moved on to questions about Cheney's lesbian
    Lesbian is a term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic desire between females. The word may be used as a noun, to refer to women who identify themselves or who are characterized by others as having the primary attribute of female homosexuality, or as an...

     daughter Mary
    Mary Cheney
    Mary Claire Cheney is the second daughter of Dick Cheney, the former Vice President of the United States, and his wife, Lynne Cheney. She is openly lesbian, has voiced support for same-sex marriage, and has been credited with encouraging her father to support same-sex marriage as well...

     and her opinion of the Bush administration
    George W. Bush administration
    The presidency of George W. Bush began on January 20, 2001, when he was inaugurated as the 43rd President of the United States of America. The oldest son of former president George H. W. Bush, George W...

    's opposition to same-sex marriage
    Same-sex marriage
    Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

    . Cheney declined to comment on her daughter's sexuality, but repeatedly stated her opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which was being endorsed by President Bush
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

    . Cheney declined to discuss the matter further. Later, when Gross brought the interview back to issues of gay rights, Cheney again refused to comment. According to producers, Cheney had been warned that Gross would be asking about politics and current events.

Personal life

Gross was married early on in her life, but was in divorce proceedings by the time she started her radio career in 1973. She is now married to Francis Davis
Francis Davis
Francis Davis is an American author and journalist. He is best known as the jazz critic for The Village Voice, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic Monthly. He has also worked in radio and film, and taught courses on Jazz and Blues at the University of Pennsylvania...

, jazz critic of the Village Voice. The couple have no children. In an interview with B. D. Wong, Gross said this is a deliberate choice on their part.

Gross wrote in the introduction to All I Did Was Ask: Conversations With Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists that she is sometimes asked whether she is a lesbian, due to her short haircut as well as the number of Fresh Air guests from the entertainment industry; the passage included one memorable instance where a guest at a social occasion speculated on Gross' sexual orientation to Gross' own mother-in-law. In her interview with Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
Rubin Carter
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter fought professionally as a middleweight boxer from 1961 to 1966. In 1966, he was arrested for a triple homicide in the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey...

, she mentioned that she had lived in a commune.


  • 1981 Corporation for Public Broadcasting
    Corporation for Public Broadcasting
    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a non-profit corporation created by an act of the United States Congress, funded by the United States’ federal government to promote public broadcasting...

     Award for "Best Live Radio Program,"
  • 1987 Ohio State Award
  • 1993 Peabody Award
    Peabody Award
    The George Foster Peabody Awards recognize distinguished and meritorious public service by radio and television stations, networks, producing organizations and individuals. In 1939, the National Association of Broadcasters formed a committee to recognize outstanding achievement in radio broadcasting...

  • 1999 The Foundation of American Women In Radio and Television's Gracie Allen Award
  • 2003 CPB Edward R. Murrow Award
  • 2007 Literarian Award, National Book Foundation
    National Book Award
    The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

  • 2008 WHYY National Book Foundation Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community

Audio collections

  • (1998) Fresh Air: On Stage & Screen (cassette)
  • (2000) Fresh Air on Stage and Screen Vol 2 (CD)
  • (2004) Fresh Air Laughs with Terry Gross [UNABRIDGED] (CD)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.