Fresh Air

Weekdays at 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Opening the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. 

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Editor's note: This book review cites a passage containing a homophobic slur.

One could say that Saeed Jones' new memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives, is a classic coming-of-age story. A boy grows up in Texas; he's black, gay and isolated; he's raised by a single mom; he struggles with identity, goes off to college and, eventually, achieves a wobbly sense of self-affirmation.

When Christopher Wylie first began working for the British behavioral research company SCL Group, the company used data drawn from a number of sources as a means of potentially altering outcomes for its, sometimes military, clients.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

On November 8, singer Anthony Roth Costanzo will take center stage at the Metropolitan Opera, debuting as the star of a new production of Philip Glass' opera Akhnaten. It's a remarkable turn for a celebrated singer who nearly lost his voice to thyroid cancer.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

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DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Updated on 10/3/19 at 11:20 a.m. ET

President Trump made building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico a cornerstone of his 2016 presidential campaign. But when, after the election, efforts to build the wall stalled, he turned to other possible options — including constructing a trench filled with snakes and alligators — according to a forthcoming book.

Conan O'Brien has been hosting late-night TV shows for 26 years — longer than anyone else currently on the air. So when a colleague suggested he start a podcast, he initially balked.

"My initial reaction was, 'Why would I do a podcast? I have a television show,'" O'Brien says. "That should be enough for anybody."

But then O'Brien thought more about the prospect, and he began to reconsider. On television, conversations with guests were constrained by TV cameras and commercial breaks; a podcast would free him to proceed more slowly and dig deeper in conversations.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The new Martin Scorsese film "The Irishman" will introduce a new generation of Americans to Jimmy Hoffa, the tough, mob-connected leader of the Teamsters Union who vanished and was presumed murdered in 1975. Hoffa's disappearance is one of the greatest unsolved crimes of the 20th century.

A few years ago, when actor Antonio Banderas was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack, a nurse told him that the heart was a warehouse for feelings — and warned him that he'd likely feel sad in the weeks or months to come.

As it turns out, she was right: Banderas had always considered himself a "tough guy," slow to cry and not overly sensitive, but suddenly he found himself tearing up watching movies or listening to music.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is documenting the world's captive animal species — currently around 9,000 and counting. His new book is Vanishing: The World's Most Vulnerable Animals. Originally broadcast Feb. 27, 2017.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The House of Representatives impeachment inquiry into President Trump will have far-reaching impacts, and one of them may be to increase public interest in the man who would occupy the White House if the president were to depart, Vice President Mike Pence. Pence has been a loyal but largely invisible figure in the Trump administration.

Academy Awards voters can rarely resist a celebrity impersonation, judging by some of the star turns that have won Oscars in recent years. These aren't just performances; they're jaw-dropping feats of mimicry. Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill! Rami Malek is Freddie Mercury!

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. In the new Ken Burns PBS series on the history of country music, my guest, Doug Green, talks about the era of the singing cowboy as epitomized by the most popular one, Gene Autry. Cowboy lore, folk ballads, jazz, Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood are all ingredients of the music of the singing cowboys who were movie staples in the '30s and '40s and then on TV in the '50s.

It's one of those poems people reach for in times when it feels like the sky is falling. It's also generally regarded as one of the great poems of the 20th century.

"September 1, 1939," as its title signals, was written by W.H. Auden in the days immediately following Germany's invasion of Poland, which marked the start of World War II. Auden had left his native England and moved to New York City some nine months earlier, and the famous opening lines of the poem are rooted in the dingy geography of his new home:

Growing up in Maryland, author Ta-Nehisi Coates was enthralled by stories of Harriet Tubman, the 19th century abolitionist who operated the Underground Railroad on the state's Eastern Shore. He read about Tubman's efforts to lead enslaved people to freedom, and was struck by the surreal qualities of her story.

High school was a tumultuous time for Canadian identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin. They both, separately, were coming to terms with their sexuality — and they were also beginning to write and record songs together.

"Almost right away, we started to weave our voices together. That was something that we had an instinct to do," Tegan says.

Back in the old, old days of TV, before either streaming or cable television, the broadcast networks were king — enjoying a virtual monopoly. And each fall, CBS, NBC and ABC would roll out their new shows at the same time to attract the most viewers for their automotive advertisers, who, in turn, were rolling out their new fall models. It's a TV tradition that has persisted, even though neither Detroit nor the networks are nearly as dominant as they used to be.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross. "Downton Abbey," the feature film based on the Masterpiece series that ran on PBS for six seasons, opens today in theaters. Much of the cast returns in the movie for a plot set in motion by the visit of King George the V to Downton. In this scene, conflicts emerge as servants at Downton are talking about preparations from the royals with the king's page, who's part of the royals advance team.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNTOWN ABBEY")

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. The science fiction drama "Ad Astra" stars Brad Pitt as an astronaut who sets out on a dangerous voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system. It's the latest picture from writer-director James Gray, whose earlier movies include "We Own The Night," "Two Lovers" and "The Lost City Of Z." Our film critic Justin Chang says "Ad Astra" is a space odyssey that sometimes stumbles but ultimately soars.

In 2013, Edward Snowden was an IT systems expert working under contract for the National Security Agency when he traveled to Hong Kong to provide three journalists with thousands of top-secret documents about U.S. intelligence agencies' surveillance of American citizens.

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