'Fresh Air' makes its Gainesville debut


Published: Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 28, 2005 at 10:58 p.m.
'Fresh Air," National Public Radio's award-winning talk/interview program hosted by Terry Gross, makes its Gainesville debut today at noon on Classic 89 WUFT-FM.
"It's by far the most requested of the programs we have not had in our schedule," says Brent Williams, the station's director of development. Elaine Cronheim is one of those "Fresh Air" fans living in Gainesville who has been waiting for this day.
"Right now I have to drive around in my car to pick up the Jacksonville public-radio station," Cronheim says.
Cronheim says she first heard the program while traveling. She says she likes Gross, the show's host, and the format, where she says the guests are evenly split among authors and entertainers and scientists, politicians and experts.
"It's very clear she's done a lot of research beforehand," Cronheim says. "You get into very interesting topics right away, and the fact that it's one hour gives enough time for in-depth discussion."
Cronheim is the administrative services coordinator in the University of Florida Department of Pediatrics. Asked for one of her favorite recent interviews, Cronheim recalls Gross speaking with Temple Grandin, an assistant professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University. Grandin is autistic, and she sees a similarity in the way animals communicate and the way those with autism communicate and process information. She spoke about her new book, "Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior."
"I don't think in language, I think in pictures, and that's the way an animal is going to think," Grandin told Gross in the interview.
Ruth Steiner is an associate professor in the UF Department of Urban and Regional Planning who says she's been putting her pitch in for "Fresh Air" for nearly a decade after first encountering it while in grad school in Berkeley, Calif.
While the program is available via the Internet, Steiner says the computer system at UF keeps "Fresh Air" fenced out. She, too, is a fan of Gross.
"Terry Gross is the best," she says. "I teach research methods and interviewing - she's the most incredible interviewer."
David Bianculli is another fan of Terry Gross, and as the TV critic for the New York Daily News, he does guest spots on the show and fills in when she's not there. He's also a University of Florida graduate and started his journalism career at The Gainesville Sun, so he has a perspective on both the program and the market.
"You'll like it. Gainesville will be a really good audience for 'Fresh Air'," he says.
His recommendation is to listen to it for a week.
"If you just listen to it for one week, at the end of that week you will have heard the host Terry Gross ask at least one question where the interview subject will say, 'No one's ever asked me that before.' Or 'I've never thought about that.' I think she's absolutely, unquestionably one of the best interviewers in the business," Bianculli says.
Gary Kirkland can be reached at 338-3104 or kirklag@gvillesun.com.

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