Keynote Speaker/Opening General Session

Sunday, July 19 • 9-10:15 a.m.
Pennsylvania Convention Center
Keynote Speaker: Terry Gross, host and co-executive producer of NPR's Fresh Air
sponsored by Bloomberg BNA, LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and Wolters Kluwer 

credit: Will Ryan Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air's interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by host and executive producer Terry Gross' unique approach. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," the San Francisco Chronicle says.

Gross, who has been host of Fresh Air since 1975, when it was broadcast only in Greater Philadelphia, isn't afraid to ask tough questions. But Gross sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrendering them. What often puts those guests at ease is Gross' understanding of their work. "Anyone who agrees to be interviewed must decide where to draw the line between what is public and what is private," Gross says. "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."

Fresh Air not only covers popular culture, it's become a familiar part of it. The program and Gross have been name-checked on Saturday Night Live, Girls, HBO's Eastbound and Down, and How I Met Your Mother. Gross played herself on an episode of The Simpsons, and was a guest on The Colbert Report.

In 1985, WHYY-FM launched a weekly half-hour edition of Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which was distributed nationally by NPR. Since 1987, a daily, one-hour national edition of Fresh Air has been produced by WHYY-FM. The program is broadcast on nearly 600 stations and became the first nondrivetime show in public radio history to reach more than 5 million listeners a week.

Gross has received a number of awards, including:
  • the prestigious Peabody Award
  • the American Women in Radio and Television's Gracie Allen Award
  • the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Edward R. Murrow Award
  • the National Book Foundation's Literarian Award
  • Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism Award
  • the Modern Language Association’s Phyllis Franklin Award for Public Advocacy of the Humanities
  • the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community 
Gross is the author of All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians and Artists, published by Hyperion in 2004.

photo credit: Will Ryan
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