Terry Gross is the host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, the daily program of interviews and reviews. It is produced at WHYY in Philadelphia, where Gross began hosting the show in 1975, when it was broadcast locally. Her interviews with leading writers, actors, directors, musicians, comics, journalists, scholars, and others now reach 4.9 million people weekly, on 659 NPR stations across the U.S. and Europe. Fresh Air was the most downloaded podcast on Apple Podcasts in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Fresh Air not only covers popular culture, it’s become a familiar part of it. Gross played herself on The Simpsons, Bojack Horseman, This Is Us, and Cartoon Network’s Clarence and has been name-checked on Saturday Night Live, Girls, HBO’s Eastbound and Down, How I Met Your Mother, and Younger. She also
Fresh Air received the Peabody Institutional Award in 2022 as well as a Peabody Award in 1994 for its “probing questions, revelatory interviews and unusual insight.” Gross was awarded a National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2016 and the 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.” At the 2007 National Book Awards Ceremony, Gross was honored by the National Book Foundation with the Literarian Award for outstanding service to the American literary community. Gross was recognized with the Columbia Journalism Award from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2008. In 2010 she became the 4th recipient of the Modern Language Association’s Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities. 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.
Gross isn’t afraid to ask tough questions. But she 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, where 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.
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. Her alma mater awarded her a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993, and.an honorary degree in 2007. She’s also received honorary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Haverford College and Drexel University. She gave the commencement address at Vassar College in 2007 and Bryn Mawr College in 2014.