Award-winning radio Honors for WHYY's "Fresh Air" host.

Posted: May 17, 2003

Let's make one thing clear. Gene Simmons was not interviewed for this editorial. OK, he wasn't even contacted, but even if he had been, it's doubtful the KISS musician would have paid tribute to Terry Gross, host of the WHYY-FM produced Fresh Air.

Too bad. Gross deserves accolades.

Yesterday, she received the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for 25 years of promoting and strengthening public radio.

Fresh Air began in 1975 in Philadelphia as a local program focused on the arts. It went nationwide in 1985. Now, it airs daily on 425 public radio stations, with more than 4 million listeners. Her topics range from the arts to current affairs around the world.

Here's the Philadelphia-centric bonus: Each program begins with "From WHYY in Philadelphia, I'm Terry Gross and this is Fresh Air."

That association carries clout. She's been called one of the nation's top interviewers. Her questions show the preparation she puts into her interviews.

Her guests couldn't be more different. They've included John Updike, Ice-T, Monica Lewinsky, George Will and Nancy Reagan. That eclecticism also produced the now-famous interview with Simmons, in which personal digs flew between the two with startling vigor.

Here's the life-centric bonus: Gross celebrates the art of conversation. There's a cacophony of white noise in the world today that drowns out the pleasure of listening to plain old, good talkin'.

For that, she deserves more than her award. She deserves our ear.

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