As the weather grows colder, we look for reasons to stay inside, snuggled up under a blanket, steamy mug in hand.
Or sometimes we look for an incentive to bundle up and go for a long freezing constitutional.
Either way, 40 years’ worth of Fresh Air, Peabody award-winning radio journalist Terry Gross’ interview show, is just the ticket.
A complete digital database of over 22,000 segments is now available for your listening pleasure.
Scroll down on the home page to delve into a recent episode.
Or dial it back to one of the earliest extant installments.
(In the first decade of the show’s history, many episodes went untaped or got recorded over.)
The massive database, created with help from library scientists at Drexel University, is also searchable by guest and topic.
If you feel like handing over the controls, home station WHYY in Philadelphia has some suggested collections—Jazz Legends, Saturday Night Live, How the Brain Works…
If you’re open to anything, try the wild card option at the bottom of the screen. Click play for a random episode.
Or try typing one of your interests into the search bar.
“Cats” yielded 1713 results, from a chat with author John Bradshaw on the evolution of house cats to an interview with zoologist Alan Rabinowitz on endangered large cats to some training tips, courtesy of feline behavior specialist Sarah Ellis.
Of less direct relevance, but of no less interest, are:
A review of Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s film No One Knows about Persian Cats, which netted the 2009 Special Jury Prize at Cannes.
A review of Margaret Atwood’s 1989 novel Cat’s Eye.
A History of Catskills resorts.
A post-mortem with comedian (and avowed cat person) Mark Maron following then-President Barack Obama’s 2015 appearance on his WTF podcast (an occasion which required Maron’s house cats to be corralled in his bedroom).
The Coen Brothers on writing The Big Lebowski and the difficulties of wrangling Inside Llewyn Davis’s feline performer:
Gross: So how do you cast a cat for your film?
One Coen brother: Ooh, that was horrible. We just used on the advice of the trainer—the animal trainer, kind of an orange, kind of a marmalade tabby cat, just because they are, you know, common, and so easy to double, triple, quadruple. There were, you know, many cats playing the one cat and, you know, the whole thing is actually pretty, it comes across well in the movie, but the whole exercise of shooting a cat is pretty nightmarish because they don’t care about anything; they don’t want to do what you want them to do. As the animal trainer said to us, a dog wants to please you; a cat only wants to please itself. It was just long, painstaking, frustrating days shooting the cat.
Other Coen brother: What you have to do is basically find the cat that’s predisposed to doing whatever particular piece of action it is that you have to film. So you find the cat that can—isn’t afraid to run down a fire escape or this, you know, the cat that’s very docile and will let the actor just hold them for extended periods of time without being fidgety. And then you want the fidgety cat—the squirrely cat—for when you want the cat to run away and you just keep swapping them out—depending on what the task at hand is.
If something really catches your fancy, you can add it to a playlist to share via social media or email.
Readers, what would you have us add to ours?
Begin your exploration of Fresh Air’s archive here.
What Happens When a Terry Gross/Fresh Air Interview Ends: A Comic Look
Maurice Sendak’s Emotional Last Interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Animated by Christoph Niemann
Listen to Ira Glass’ 10 Favorite Episodes of This American Life
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her in NYC on Monday, December 9 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Dennison’s Christmas Book (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.
I was expecting there to be a charge of some kind. This is really interesting.
Impressive collection. Thank you for this resource.
Fresh Air is my go-to in the car. Nobody interviews like Terry! Thank you for this!
My dad bought a radio when I was 16 and in my first year in college. He thought I would fill my head with filmy romantic Hindi songs on the radio and waited till he thought I was mature enough to handle a love lyric.I was living in Chennai India. A small radio and just one station Local.
I heard my first program on radio at the house of my aunt.An English Teatime program .Soft gentle Western music.But it was the voice of the announcer that enthralled me.An unknown person weaving a spell with words and playing a selection of music.I knew I had to be on radio.In college I found my first job while studying Literature in college Late .Sunday evenings found me n the radio station carrying vinyl LPs staggering into the studio .That was my job.But I was thrilled.Carrying 30 music records through long corridors , sitting in a studio entering registers with music details and immersing myself in a live musical experuence.Heaven . After carrying the 39 music records back to the Duty Room and despite not being in front of a mike I was fulfilled.Outside my protective father waited to escort me home as it was 9 pm and no girl. Would be out at that late hour.
I did become a radio host , program executive , got a production scholarship at BBC program , moved to Dubai hosted. a radio music program and then migrated to the US where I now host a 70’s music show online on Saturday afternoons rememberthenradio.com
In between I lectured in colleges.authored two books worked for a Senior Housing project had grandchildren and after retiring
I find myself in radio.
Playing music I love with gratitude.As someone said ..Music gives us what we want on good or bad days.
The immediacy and intimacy of radio is so powerful which brings me to the inimitable Terry Gross.
I have heard Terry Gross over the years on radio and always felt elated to find a soul sparked with passion and desire to make people come alive through her deep connection and curiosity of people I applaud and revere her commitment to radio and feel a kinship with her bridging countries race and history..So excited and thankful about the archive Open Culture.
Thank you for sharing this personal radio history, Prem!