Terry Gross to Receive Humanities Medal From President Obama

The "Fresh Air" host will join President Obama and fellow award recipients Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, and Sandra Cisneros at a White House ceremony next week.

Photograph via WHYY/Miles Kennedy

Photograph via WHYY/Miles Kennedy

WHYY’s Terry Gross is one of 12 people set to receive a National Humanities Medal during a White House ceremony next week.

Gross, who has hosted NPR’s “Fresh Air” since 1975, was selected “for her artful probing of the human experience.” Fellow recipients of the humanities honor this year include authors James McBride and Rudolfo Anaya, journalist Isabel Wilkerson, poet Louise Glück, and musician Wynton Marsalis.

Gross, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, is regarded for her empathetic yet inquisitive interview style. The 65-year-old radio host has led “Fresh Air” from its origins as a local interview and music program in the ’70s to an international daily show broadcast on more than 624 stations, reaching 5 million listeners a week.

“Her patient, persistent questioning in thousands of interviews over four decades has pushed public figures to reveal personal motivations behind extraordinary lives – revealing simple truths that affirm our common humanity,” reads Gross’s citation, which President Barack Obama will deliver at the September 22nd ceremony.

Gross has hosted an extensive and diverse list of guests, including Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, and Maurice Sendak. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband, writer Francis Davis.

The humanities medal is given in conjunction with National Medal of Arts, whose recipients this year include Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Sandra Cisneros, and Philip Glass. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend, and the event will be livestreamed at WH.gov/live.

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