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Friday, March 30, 2007

Bits of Fresh Air

I have been a fan of Fresh Air for many years, and it was a major disappointment that the NPR WHYY-Philadelphia) show did not have a regular podcast. There was a subscription based download from, but I am not a fan of such pay-for-listen services; the alternative was to hope that a particular segment or interview from Fresh Air might get posted on the NPR site as a featured interview....

But recently the Fresh Air podcast became a free subscribe-able download, and it is becoming a daily listen. What is interesting about the show is that it has been on so long that its archives offer old segments that can be scheduled on any particular day to reflect some hot news or culutral event. A new movie out starring Will Farrell? Out comes an interview with Farrell taped for a previous movie. A famous author dies? Fresh Air will air at least a portion of an interview with the deceased taped twenty years ago. And then there are the random repeats -- such as today's replay of a terrific Sasha Baron Cohen inerview about Borat and other things...

But it isn't merely the number and range of guests that make this show so great. Terry Gross, the host, is truly a wonderful interviewer, not only from the perspective of the audience, but also from the perspective of many guests who often remark how much they enjoyed the experience. (Not all, however; Gross had a famous confrontation with Bill O'Reilly not too long ago....)

And every so often she does back-to-back interviews contrasting interesting folks, which is what took place this week when she had long interviews with Richard Dawkins (the scientist-atheist) on Wednesday and Francis Collins (scientist-very much the believer) on Thursday. The Dawkns interview was solid, although not quite as fun or interesting as listeing to him narrate a TV show or give one of his wonderful lectures. Collins, one of the major Genome project scientists was acutally quite level headed in his repsonse to Gross' questions and sounded (and even looks) very much like a real life Ned Flanders.

Nothing significant comes out of either interview, but if you have a couple of hours to spare you might want to listen -- and subscribe....

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