‘Fresh Air’ host Terry Gross: I always think listeners are disappointed when they meet me

NPR “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross tells Marc Maron in a recent interview in front of a live audience at the BAM Opera House in Brooklyn:

There was a period when I didn’t want to be photographed. It was a short period, but I declined to be photographed because I thought radio listeners want you to be who they think you are visually. I’d meet people and they’d go, “Oh! really?” There’s this thing, like, when you’re on radio and you feel [?] the speaker, people assume, So she’s tall. And really, I’m so short. And so I’d always feel like people would meet me and they’d feel like – they’d hide their disappointment. Like – “Oh, she’s kind of short. she’s not really very glamorous.” So I thought, let me be whoever they want me to be visually.

Mom to Terry: Don’t tell them anything about us!

I grew up in a family that thought that we shouldn’t share things about the family. You keep that inside. And so there was an article about me that was written for Philadelphia magazine years ago, and the gist of the article was: People don’t know much about her, they don’t know who she really is. One of the people on my staff was quoted as saying, “She’s really great, I really like working with her. I don’t know a thing about her.”

So my mother took the article and said, “You shouldn’t have told them all of this!” She said something like, “I don’t even want this in my house!” And I was like, “Mom, the article was about how nobody knows anything about me!” So it’s kind of ironic that what I do for a living is help people share things about themselves that might be of value to other people.

New: Gross is referring to a Philadelphia article from September of 1992, “Terry Gross Hears Voices,” by Bob Huber. It’s not online, but editors Joel Mathis and Timothy Haas were kind enough to dig it up and send this clip.

* Marc Maron interviews Terry Gross (unedited, 90 minutes) (wtfpod.com) | Shorter edited NPR version (npr.org)

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