Fresh Air

Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-Noon and again from 7-8 p.m. on KUAR 89.1

NPR's Fresh Air offers fascinating interviews with people who shape, record, and deconstruct the here and now.

Two years ago, science writer Ed Yong wrote an article for The Atlantic in which he warned that a new global pandemic was inevitable — and that the world would be unprepared for it when it arrived.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies filling in today for Terry Gross. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, Americans and citizens of many countries are getting a new look at their national leaders, evaluating their performance in a moment of crisis. Our guest today, author Erik Larson, has a new book about one of the most renowned leaders of the 20th century, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and his leadership during some of the darkest hours of World War II.

"It's hard to focus right now."

I've heard versions of that sentence on the phone, in person (at a distance), on email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, on Zoom and Skype and all the other devices and online platforms we're using to stay connected with each other these days.

It's hard to focus right now.

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:

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:

Comedian Marc Maron: We Need 'Groupthink Empathy' During COVID-19 Outbreak: "We [have] to do the right thing to protect those who are vulnerable," Maron says. His new Netflix stand-up special, End Times Fun, was named before the coronavirus pandemic.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Today we have Part II of our tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who turned 90 last Sunday. We made it a two-parter because we're big fans and because listening to Sondheim and his music seems like a great way to take a break and boost our spirits. Sondheim fans like me always wonder, how did he write those brilliant lyrics? He provided a lot of answers in his book "Finishing The Hat," which collects his lyrics from 1954 to '81 and tells the stories behind the songs.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Most of our team is working at home now, including me, so occasionally we're going to need a day to catch up, and today is one of those days.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Apocalyptic novelist Max Brooks is something of an expert on planning for pandemics and other disasters.

Marc Maron wants you to know that he named his Netflix stand-up special, End Times Fun, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The title really was just a way to frame the work I've been doing over the last couple of years," Maron says. "I'm full of dread and a certain amount of anxiety ... certainly around the environment [and] the world of politics."

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:

Concert halls and music venues around the world have been shuttered due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but before closing its doors, the Philadelphia Orchestra gave one last performance on March 12 — to an empty concert hall.

The U.S. has had two recent presidential elections in which the winner of the popular vote — Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 — ultimately lost to the challenger for the seat.

That's because the U.S. has an Electoral College — each state gets a number of votes (by representative electors) in the Electoral College that's proportional to its population. And 48 of the 50 states (Maine and Nebraska are the exceptions) have been awarding those electoral votes on a winner-takes-all basis.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Growing up, actor Octavia Spencer remembers being inspired by the story of Madam C.J. Walker, one of America's first black, female, self-made millionaires. Born on a plantation in 1867, Walker eked out a living washing clothes for white families before building an empire selling hair care and makeup products to women of color.

"She was a woman of purpose," Spencer says. "I've always known her story. But what's interesting is her legacy is known in African American culture, but not really by the masses."

I'm reluctant to explain why Eliza Hittman's new movie is called Never Rarely Sometimes Always. It's a mouthful, to be sure; few people I talked to at this year's Sundance Film Festival could remember it correctly. But then we saw the movie — and after that, a lot of us knew the title would stay with us forever.

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.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. Lily King's 2014 novel "Euphoria" was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and made most critics' best books list that year. King has just brought out her fifth novel called "Writers & Lovers," and our book critic Maureen Corrigan says it's another winner.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Over the past week the ruler of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has provoked an oil price war with Russia, sending energy and stock markets into a tailspin, and ordered the detention of four senior members of the country's royal family. Our guest, New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, says no one should be surprised by erratic behavior from the crown prince, who is probably best known for his association with the grisly murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi carried out by his agents in Turkey.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Fans of the VH1 reality show RuPaul's Drag Race know that every episode ends with a mantra. After finishing the weekly challenge, the drag queens competing for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar" (and a hefty cash prize) gather on the runway before host RuPaul Charles, where the drag icon proclaims: "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?"

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Growing up in a housing project in Red Hook, Brooklyn, writer James McBride felt a sense of community and freedom that was incomparable to anywhere else.

"It was the sense of being in a village, and a sense of us against the world," he says. "You know who everybody is, you know who not to mess with."

On the surface, McBride didn't quite fit in; his African American father died shortly before McBride was born, leaving him and his siblings to be raised by their white mother.

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