View Full Version : Why the love for Terry Gross?

Subway Prophet
11-30-2006, 02:43 PM
I'm a relative newcomer to NPR (listening since 1999), and only recently when I moved did I start to catch Terry Gross' show Fresh Air. I'm completely befuddled by her popularity. It seems like she's on several extended breaks a year with her producer taking over the interviews.

When she is on, it seems that more than half her shows are re-runs that relate to current events only tangentally. e.g. "Gordon Lightfoot's second cousin has a walk-on role in the recent movie Garfield IV: A Lasagna Too Far, which comes to home video tomorrow. Let's listen to an interview I had with Gordon Lightfoot almost twenty years ago."

The show has an hour each weekday (at least on KERA 90.1) and - once you peel away the news blurb and the 3rd party review at the end - her interviews only take up about 30 minutes. It really pales by comparison to other daily shows.

I'm also a little put off by her interviewing style. She has a habit of using stuttering patterns to cut off the guest or to inject a controversial question. It comes across as pushy and arrogant, IMO. If she stuttered more often I don't think it'd bother me so much, but the way she does it it sounds artificial. Diane Rehm, who definitely does have a speech impediment, seems to capture better guests and far more interesting discussions.

In all, I'd rather not put her in the 11 AM to noon time slot - give us someone who attends class more often, and is easier on the ears.

11-30-2006, 02:48 PM
She is an NPR institution, no doubt about that.

I really like the range of guests she has, the level of depth she is able to achieve over the longer-interview format and the types of questions she asks, which show that she (or her crew) are usually really well-prepared.

Having said that, all the things you mention do stand out. I would add that, for an obviously-intelligent woman, she seems to have fully embraced the "end all of your sentences like they are a question?" phrasing I normally associate with vapid teens.

Bottom line - all the things I don't like are more than compensated by the things I do like, so I enjoy listening when I find her on my radio...

Push You Down
11-30-2006, 03:02 PM
Two words: Gene Simmons

Her toe to toe with him is an NPR classic.

Smooth Jack
11-30-2006, 03:19 PM
I haven't listened to NPR for a while, what with audiobooks and all. I liked Terry Gross well enough, but it seems like her guests often correct her on the facts. Sorry, I can't think of a specific off the top of my head. Usually, it was something trivial. It still struck me as mildly unprofessional. I never had a problem with her voice, or speaking style.

11-30-2006, 03:34 PM
She conducts spectacular interviews. Whomever it is, whenever it was, it's fun to listen to, say, Neil Patrick Harris talk about his parody of himself.

Ike Witt
11-30-2006, 03:37 PM
You have got to love the way she flustered Bill O'Reilly.

11-30-2006, 03:39 PM
Terry Gross broadcasts from Philadelphia, but she's never had as her guest someone whose office is only a few blocks from the radio station: Camille Paglia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Paglia). Fifteen years and counting.

11-30-2006, 03:39 PM
when she makes Bill O'Reily cry like a bitch, thats funny :D.

But yeah, I do catch an awful lot of "Here's something in the news, I interviewed this person 10 years ago that is almost similar to whats going on now"

You also have to remember that many of the interviews are done months before they are aired. I'm not sure why they do this, but I think it makes for better preparation. I can remember hearing an interview that made it to air for the first time almost 2 years after it had been taped. The guest had subsequently died since then and thats why it was being played. WTF?

So I guess with her late interviews, it kind of clashes with what you normally get from NPR. You usually get quick, relevant interviews with people that have something to do with the day's events. Her style or Fresh Air's style of scheduling interviews just doesn't work with it.

BTW, doesn't she have a great voice?! I could listen to her for hours on end.

John Mace
11-30-2006, 04:35 PM
I really like NPR and listen to it a lot, but 1-2PM is the Dead Time for me. I can't stand her. Her voice is too cutesy and she usually just oozes sacharine praise for her guests. No love from me.

11-30-2006, 05:22 PM
I adore Terry Gross. Always have, always will.

As others have already mentioned, nobody does in-depth interviews the way she does. She does her homework. Her guests range from the well-known to the "hey, I had no idea that X did Y" or "X had something to do with Y". In other words, Very Interesting People. I always learn something new listening to her.

Her voice and its mannerisms have never bothered me. I could listen to her anytime.

11-30-2006, 05:24 PM
I have enjoyed some of her interviews. One of my favorites involved a man who was said to be a reincarnation of a buddhist holy man. It was facinating. Part of that was that he was facinating, but part of it was good questions and a willingness to listen to his answers.