620 episodes

Fresh Air

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Harvard historian and ‘New Yorker’ writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called “people machine,” a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising pitches. Her book is ‘If Then.’

TV critic David Bianculli reviews Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series ‘Ratched,’ an origin story of the notorious nurse from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar talks about his new novel, ‘Homeland Elegies,’ which explores the experiences of a Muslim man who, like Akhtar, grows up in Wisconsin, the son of Pakistani immigrants.

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Sep 18, 2020

‘Watchmen’ Writer Cord Jefferson

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The HBO series ‘Watchmen’ uses sci-fi and action heroes to examine American racism. We talk with show writer Cord Jefferson, who wrote the episode of the series in which the main character narrowly survives the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, when white supremacists destroyed a prosperous Black community. The series has scored 26 Emmy nominations — more than any other series.

Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews the grim thriller ‘The Devil All the Time,’ now streaming on Netflix.

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Sep 17, 2020

Country Musician & Historian Marty Stuart

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The Grammy winning singer-songwriter started out in Lester Flatt’s backup band. Now he’s being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stuart played some of his own music in this 2014 interview, and talked about his archive of cowboy couture.

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Sep 16, 2020

COVID On College Campuses

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College campuses have become the pandemic’s newest hotspots, with more than 88,000 COVID cases at the nation’s colleges and universities. We talk with reporter Scott Carlson about the tough decisions colleges are facing as they decide how to continue classes, test students, and quarantine the sick. We’ll also talk about the financial strain these institutions were already facing before the pandemic.

TV critic David Bianculli reviews Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series ‘Ratched,’ an origin story of the notorious nurse from ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ And jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews a new release by French-Canadian clarinetist and composer François Houle.

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Harvard historian and ‘New Yorker’ writer Jill Lepore tells the story of the Simulmatics Corporation. Founded in 1959, it used a so-called “people machine,” a computer program it claimed could predict the impact of political messages or advertising pitches. At the time, Simulmatics drew condemnation from scholars and political leaders who saw it as a threat to democracy. But now, 60 years later, the company’s data collection practices and predictive models have become commonplace among political campaigns.

Her book is ‘If Then.’ Also, Maureen Corrigan reviews Sue Miller’s book ‘Monogamy.’

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Sep 14, 2020

Writer Ayad Akhtar On Blending Fact & Fiction

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Actor, playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar won a Pulitzer Prize for ‘Disgraced,’ his play about an American-born Muslim who hosts a dinner party that sparks a heated discussion of religion and politics. Akhtar’s new novel, ‘Homeland Elegies,’ explores the experiences of a Muslim man who, like Akhtar, grows up in Wisconsin, the son of Pakistani immigrants.

Also, Ken Tucker reviews the album ‘What Could Be Better’ by the band The Happy Fits.

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Ghanaian-American author Yaa Gyasi drew on her own ​experiences growing up in a largely white community in Alabama for her new book, ‘Transcendent Kingdom.’ In the novel, she explores themes of depression, addiction, religion and race.

Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews pastry chef Lisa Donovan’s memoir, ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger.’

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated dozens of Al-Qaida members and other extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he got valuable information by preparing carefully for interviews and building rapport with his subjects. When CIA contractors used coercive techniques — like waterboarding — Soufan says subjects ceased cooperating, or gave bad information to make the torment stop. Soufan’s 2011 memoir about his experiences appeared with large portions redacted by the CIA. After a legal battle, the redacted material is now restored in a new version, called ‘Black Banners (Declassified).’

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Donald Ray Pollock worked in a paper mill and meatpacking plant for 32 years before becoming a writer. He spoke with Terry Gross in 2011 about his acclaimed gothic crime novel, ‘The Devil All the Time.’ The film adaptation, starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland, will begin streaming on Netflix on Sept. 16.

Also, we listen back to an interview with Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, creators and stars of the Hulu comedy series ‘PEN15.’ They play 13-year-old versions of themselves, navigating the traumas of middle school in the early 2000s. Season 2 begins next week. They spoke with ‘Fresh Air’ producer Sam Briger.

Justin Chang reviews Charlie Kaufman’s new Netflix film, ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things.’

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4.6
Total: 5
KH
Kellie Harper
Dec 26, 2019

Nice job! It was really cool story!

DT
Doron Tamari
Dec 19, 2019

LW
Leah Weiss
Dec 16, 2019

AR
Alan Ragus
Dec 12, 2019

MG
Michael Goland
Dec 09, 2019

The guest are awesome and diverse. Even if you haven't listened in a while, you can always go back through their catalog of episodes and find a good interview.

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio’s most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today’s biggest luminaries.