Fresh Air

Monday - Thursday 3:00PM-4:00PM

Fresh Air

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics. Terry Gross hosts this multi-award-winning daily interview and features program. The veteran public radio interviewer is known for her extraordinary ability to engage guests of all dispositions. Every weekday she delights intelligent and curious listeners with revelations on contemporary societal concerns. 

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in for Terry Gross. As debates rage about voting access in the November election, we're going to recall another time, more than a half century ago, when securing ballot access could be a life-or-death matter. Right now PBS is streaming the documentary "Freedom Summer" about the movement in 1964 to open the polls to African Americans in Mississippi in an era of entrenched segregation.

The writer and director Michael Almereyda is making some of the most thoughtful and inventive biographical dramas of any filmmaker working today.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Back in the heyday of Detroit — from the Great Depression through the 1950s — Joseph "Ziggy" Johnson knew just about everybody who was worth knowing in the shops, bars, churches, theaters and nightclubs that lined the streets of that city's celebrated Black neighborhood, called "Black Bottom."

When the U.S military dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the American government portrayed the weapons as equivalent to large conventional bombs — and dismissed Japanese reports of radiation sickness as propaganda.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The U.S. and Iran have had contentious relations ever since the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s overthrowing the shah, and the subsequent hostage crisis — in which militants held 52 U.S. citizens for more than a year. Decades of scenes showing mobs burning the U.S. flag on the streets of Tehran have led many Americans to wonder why people in such a faraway country are so angry with the United States.

For an answer, you couldn't do better than to start with Coup 53, an exhilarating new historical documentary that unfolds with the pace and complexity of a thriller.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAMES CARNEY SEXTET'S "MAYOR OF MARCELLUS")

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in today for Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "IMMIGRATION NATION")

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:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

I'm David Bianculli, editor of the website TV Worth Watching, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today's guest is Sister Helen Prejean, whose latest memoir, "River Of Fire," comes out in paperback this month.

You may know her and her story from her previous memoir, which was titled "Dead Man Walking." That book told how she became an activist against the death penalty. It was adapted into a film of the same name in 1995, starring Susan Sarandon.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Fresh Air's longtime language commentator Geoff Nunberg died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 75.

Geoff was a regular contributor to Fresh Air since 1987, when we made the transition from a local radio program to a daily NPR show. I met him even before that, when he was the usage editor at The American Heritage Dictionary, and I interviewed him about the new edition.

Since they were founded in the 1930s by the American Legion, the Boys State and Girls State programs have been giving high schoolers a practical education in how government works. Students in every state are chosen to take part in a week-long summer experiment in which they must form their own representative democracy. As we learn from the opening credits of the terrific new documentary Boys State, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Cory Booker are just a few of the program's famous alums.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are frequently seen as opposing forces in the struggle for civil rights and against white supremacy; King is often portrayed as a nonviolent insider, while Malcolm X is characterized as a by-any-means-necessary political renegade. But author and Black Power scholar Peniel Joseph says the truth is more nuanced.

"I've always been fascinated by Malcolm X and Dr. King ... and dissatisfied in how they're usually portrayed — both in books and in popular culture," Joseph says.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Veteran political consultant Stuart Stevens has spent years working as a strategist for Republican campaigns, including the presidential bids of Bob Dole, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. But Stevens didn't support the party's candidate in the 2016 presidential election — and he wasn't alone.

"In 2016, when I went out and attacked Trump on television," he says, "I would say maybe a third of the party hierarchy would email me and thank me for doing this."

The Old Guard filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood always loved action movies — she just never thought she'd have a chance to make one.

"Those doors were not open at all to women," she says. "It's so hard for women to get into the room, because we don't have action on a resumé. But how do you get action on your resumé if you're not hired to do films with action?"

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. Baseball is back, for now at least. And many major league teams this year are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues, which gave African Americans a place to showcase their talents before the game was integrated.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Today, we're going into our archive to remember journalist Pete Hamill. He died yesterday at age 85 from complications following emergency surgery after falling and breaking a hip. Hamill was described in The New York Times as the quintessential New York journalist. Times columnist Dan Barry once wrote, if the pavement of New York City could talk, it would sound like Pete Hamill.

Six months after the conclusion of President Trump's impeachment, CNN legal analyst and New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin says special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was fundamentally flawed.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson says racism is an insufficient term for the systemic oppression of Black people in America. Instead, she prefers to refer to America as having a "caste" system.

Wilkerson describes caste an artificial hierarchy that helps determine standing and respect, assumptions of beauty and competence, and even who gets benefit of the doubt and access to resources.

"Caste focuses in on the infrastructure of our divisions and the rankings, whereas race is the metric that's used to determine one's place in that," she says.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

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 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

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