Terry Gross

  • Aired:  01/25/12
  •  | Views: 125,000

NPR host Terry Gross talks about her 25-year career in public radio and offers the inside scoop on her interviews with Grover Norquist and Bill O'Reilly. (5:35)

>> WELCOME BACK, EVERYBODY, MY

GUEST TONIGHT IS CELEBRATING HER

25th YEAR HOSTING NPR'S

FRESH AIR.

I'M GOING TO ASK HER SOME STALE

QUESTIONS.

(LAUGHTER)

PLEASE WELCOME TERI GROSS.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

HEY, TERRY!

NICE TO SEE YOU.

WELL, I AM A BIG FAN AND IT IS A

PLEASURE TO FINALLY PUT A FACE

TO THE PREGNANT PAUSES IN THAT

VOICE.

(LAUGHTER)

25 YEARS, CONGRATULATIONS.

>> THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

>> Stephen: WHEN THE SHOW

STARTED HOW LONG DID YOU THINK

IT WOULD LAST?

>> WELL, WE STARTED AS A LOCAL

SHOW IN '75 AND IT BECAME A

NATIONAL SHOW IN '87 AND I WAS

JUST GRATEFUL THEY LET ME STAY

ON THE AIR AT FIRST.

I THOUGHT THIS WILL NEVER LAST

SO I'M THRILLED.

>> Stephen: DID YOU GET PAID

AT FIRST?

>> FIRST I WAS A VOLUNTEER IN

BUFFALO AND I DIDN'T GET PAID AT

ALL.

>> Stephen: OKAY.

>> IS THAT...

>> Stephen: THAT'S AN ANSWER.

(LAUGHTER)

I'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU'RE ASKING

BUT YES.

THAT IS A SUFFICIENT ANSWER.

>> IT'S A TRUE ANSWER.

>> Stephen: A TRUE ANSWER.

IF YOU WEREN'T GETTING PAID WHY

DID YOU STICK WITH IT?

>> I LOVED IT.

>> Stephen: IF THEY DIDN'T PAY

ME FOR THIS SHOW I WOULD BUG OUT

IN A MINUTE.

>> I LOVED IT.

I HAD BEEN DOING ODD JOBS AND

TYPING JOBS BECAUSE... UH-OH, I

NEGLECTED TO MENTION MY FIRST

JOB WAS TEACHING ENGLISH IN

BUFFALO NEW YORK'S INNER CITY

TEMPEST JUNIOR HIGH AND THEY

FIRED ME IN ABOUT SIX WEEKS.

>> Stephen: WHY DID THEY FIRE

TERRY GROSS?

>> BECAUSE TERRY GROSS WAS A

TERRIBLE TEACHER.

(LAUGHTER).

>> Stephen: LET ME ASK YOU

SOMETHING, HOW DO YOU DO A SHOW

LIKE YOURS FOR 25 YEARS?

BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN INTENSE

INTEREST, IT SEEMS, IN WHAT

PEOPLE ARE SAYING.

HOW DO YOU MAKE... IS THAT A

MANUFACTURED INTEREST OR IS THAT

REAL?

I GUESS WHAT I'M ASKING IS, IS

THERE A CHARACTER TERRY GROSS

THAT YOU'RE DOING?

>> NO, THERE KIND OF ISN'T.

ONE OF THE CRY CRITERIA FOR

BEING ON THE SHOW IS THAT I

THINK THE GUEST IS GENUINELY

INTERESTING.

SO I REALLY CARE.

>> Stephen: DO YOU EVER GET

INTO THE MIDDLE OF THE INTERVIEW

AND GO "OH, I HAVE MISCALLED

THIS ONE.

THIS GUY IS SNOOZEVILLE."

>> THAT HAS HAPPENED BUT YOU

HAVE TO BE CARE INFORMAL AN

INTERVIEW THAT EVEN IF SOMETHING

IS BORING YOU HAVE TO PAY

ATTENTION.

I WAS INTERVIEWING GROVER

NORQUIST.

>> Stephen: I'VE HAD HIM ON.

>> WHO IS THE MAN BEHIND THE NO

TAX PLEDGE AND HE WAS GOING ON

AND ON ABOUT THE ESTATE TAX AND

WHY IT'S A TERRIBLE THING.

>> Stephen: THE TEST TAX.

>> WHICH HE CALLS THE DEATH TAX

AND I WAS THINKING THERE'S TOO

MANY STATISTICS, IT'S DULL,

RADIO ISN'T GOOD FOR STATISTICS

SO I WAS THINKING WHAT AM I

GOING TO ASK HIM, WHAT SHOULD I

DO WITH THE INTERVIEW?

AND SUDDENLY I THOUGHT I HEARD

HIM SAY THAT THE MORALITY OF THE

DEATH TAX WAS LIKE THE MORALITY

OF THE HOLOCAUST AND I THOUGHT

WHOA, DID HE THEY THAT?

DID I JUSTER THAT?

DID THAT HAPPEN.

>> Stephen: THAT'S A WAKEUP

CALL.

>> IT'S A WAKEUP CALL AND SO I

ACTUALLY SAID TO HIM, EXCUSE ME,

DID YOU ACTUALLY COMPARE THE

HOLOCAUST TO THE ESTATE TAX?

>> Stephen: AND HE SAID?

>> HE SAID "NO, I COMPARED THE

MORALITY OF THE DEATH TAX..."

>> Stephen: I'M NOT SAYING

WE'RE ACTUALLY KILLING JEWS BUT

IT'S VERY SIMILAR.

(LAUGHTER)

>> MILLIONS OF LIVES, MILLIONS

OF DOLLARS.

>> Stephen: EXACTLY.

EXACTLY.

THEY BOTH HAVE FACES ON THEM.

(LAUGHTER)

HE'S GOT A POINT.

HE'S GOT A POINT.

YOU WENT AFTER PRETTY HARD AND

HEAVY MY DEAR FRIEND PAPA BEAR

BILL

BILL O'REILLY.

(LAUGHTER)

YOU ATTACKED HIM IN AN

INTERVIEW.

>> I DIDN'T.

>> YOU ATTACKED HIM.

>> HE SAYS I ATTACKED HIM.

>> Stephen: NO YOU ATTACKED

HIM.

>> HE SAYS THE INTERVIEW WAS 40

MINUTES OF DEFAMATION.

IT WAS A 40 MINUTE INTERVIEW.

HE TERMINATE IT HAD INTERVIEW AT

THE END OF 40 MINUTES BUT WHAT

REALLY HAPPENED WAS I ASKED HIM

A FEW CHALLENGING QUESTIONS AT

THE END AND IT SHOCKED ME THAT

SOMEBODY WHO PRIDES HIMSELF ON

BEING THE TOUGHEST

INTERVIEWER...

>> Stephen: HE IS.

>> ...IN AMERICA WOULD FEEL SO

OFFENDED AT BEING ASKED JUST A

FEW CHALLENGING QUESTIONS.

>> Stephen: DO REMEMBER WHAT

THEY WERE?

WHAT YOU ASKED HIM?

>> WELL, I ASKED HIM IF HE EVER

USED A MICROPHONE TO SETTLE

SCORES WITH PEOPLE, FOR EXAMPLE

IF SOMEBODY GAVE HIM A BAD

REVIEW HE'D CALL THEM A PINHEAD

ON THE SHOW.

AND IF SOMEBODY DECLINED TO BE A

GUEST ON THEIR SHOW HE WOULD

ACCUSE THEM OF BEING A COWARD

AND COWERING UNDER THEIR DESKS.

>> YOU ARE A MONSTER!

(LAUGHTER)

>> Stephen: LET ME ASK YOU

SOMETHING.

YOU DO SOMETHING IN INTERVIEWS

THAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

WHY LET THE GUESTS TALK.

(LAUGHTER)

AND YOU LISTEN TO THEM WHILE

WE'RE DOING IT.

THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO

ME.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

>> BECAUSE I SEE IT AS MY JOB TO

CREATE A KIND OF COMFORT ZONE

WHERE THE GUESTS WILL FEEL

SAFE...

>> Stephen: I'M GOING TO STOP

YOU RIGHT THERE.

WHEN DOES TERRY GROSS SELL OUT

AND CASH IN?

WHY DON'T YOU JUST LEAVE THIS

PUBLIC NONSENSE BEHIND AND GO

FOR THE BIG BUCKS.

WHY NOT TERRY GROSS' FRESH AIR

BROUGHT TO YOU BY FEBREZE.

(LAUGHTER)

>> IT'S REALLY WONDERFUL ON

PUBLIC RADIO TO NOT BE BEHOLDEN

TO SPONSORS.

TO NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT

ADVERTISING.

>> BUT YOU HAVE TO GET THE

PEOPLE TO GIVE YOU MONEY.

FOR 25 YEARS, YOU MUST BE

RUNNING OUT OF NEW WAYS TO ASK

FOR CASH.

AT THIS POINT IT'S GOT TO BE

GIVE ME $20 AND I'LL EAT A BUG.

(LAUGHTER)

>> I'LL TRY THAT!

>> Stephen: TERRY, THANK YOU

SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME.

FRESH AIR AND WHYY, TERRY GROSS,

WE'LL BE RIGHT

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