How do I love thee, Terry Gross? Let me count the ways. To those unacquainted with Terry, and I certainly was before I moved to the US, she's the host of NPR's "Fresh Air" a show she has hosted for 40 (!) years. Fresh Air podcasts are one of my commuter staples- I love them in part because the show is just so expansive- from chats with Jennifer Lawrence to interviews with emergency paramedics to scholarly discussions on the differences between Sunni and Shiite. But despite being often disparate, subject matter wise, it still somehow makes total sense, and that's because of Terry, who has that magical ability, as all great journalists do, to ask exceedingly personal and difficult and searching questions in the most charming and deft way imaginable. And, here's the magic, and what gets me, every time- so often, you can actually hear her subjects, in the process of unravelling their deepest darkest secrets, totally falling in love with her. If you want to see what I mean, listen to her recent interview with Jeffrey Tambor- in a world of celebs that come to the arena pre-armed with publicists and carefully crafted public personas, I don't think I've heard such a refreshing interview with an actor in a long time.
Anyway, if you want to learn more about her, and I recommend that you do, I loved this New York Times article, which profiles her marvellous brand of magic most perfectly (including the time where things went very wrong with Hillary Clinton, and I LOVE what she says about "the real moment") and is definitely required reading for any aspiring or working journalists or communicators.
In closing, this beautiful thought from Terry on the art of the interview:
"Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private- but the line can shift, depending on who is asking the questions. What puts someone on guard isn't necessarily the fear of being 'found out.' It sometimes is just the fear of being misunderstood."
Isn't she wonderful? Such a lesson for all of us there. Oh TG, I'm crushin' on you forever and always, girl.