Terry Gross is the undisputed queen of the longform radio interview. And now she’s got the prestigious Institutional Peabody Award to prove it.
On Tuesday morning, the Peabody Awards announced that NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, which has been broadcasting in-depth interviews with major cultural figures for more than 35 years, has been granted its highest honor, the Institutional Award. Previous winners include 60 Minutes, Sesame Street, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
In an exclusive video message from his Late Show desk, frequent Fresh Air guest Stephen Colbert described Gross’ “sultry voice and impish laugh” as “unmistakable, iconic even” and praised her ability to “effortlessly bring out the unexpected in her guests.”
“Above all, she’s a great listener,” he continued. “Attentive and probing without ever feeling intrusive. Terry displays genuine interest in what makes artists great, not just as creators but as individuals whose personal history and humanity inspire the art itself.”
Accepting the award alongside her co-executive producer Danny Miller, Gross said she finds the Institutional Award “especially meaningful” because it celebrates the “totality” of the daily interview show across the span of decades.
“Our guests share this award,” she added, “for reflecting out loud about their lives, entertaining us, turning complicated issues into comprehensible ones, investigating threats against democracy, and risking their lives to cover war.”
The typically unflappable Gross turned a bit bashful near the end of the video when Miller went “off-script” to thank her personally for being “such a caring colleague and friend” and for her “extraordinary ability to make meaningful connections” with her guests.
He singled out a remark that the late Johnny Cash made at the end of his appearance on the show. “You’re really good at your job,” Cash told her.
For anyone who has been loyally listening to her interviews for years, it was an understatement.