The Terry Gross Story

I'll never recover

For a while now, I’ve thought I should share my Terry Gross story. But then I saw the news that Adam Driver walked out on his Terry Gross interview and I thought, IT IS TIME.

I want to be clear. I’m not taking a side here. Most because of all the conversations we’ve had in 2019, I find Driver discourse really really really boring.

But I do love Terry Gross discourse.

So, here we go.

In 2007ish, I went to go hear Terry Gross give a lecture at the local college. For context, you need to know that it had been a hard year. My father-in-law had died. My sisters had been in a car accident and one sister had spent three months at my home learning to walk again. And then, I had a root canal, which my dentist kept diagnosing as a cavity. And so I was dealing with the pain for weeks. Until I finally lost it on him and was like it’s not a cavity! And he took me seriously and was like sure, yeah your tooth is dead who knew?

I do not see that dentist anymore.

Anyway, two days before I yelled at my dentist. I went to hear Terry Gross. At the time, I was a HUGE Fresh Air fan. I listened to every single interview. I studied them. I loved them. I’d think about her questions. She was my MFA instructor in talking to people. So, I was so excited to hear her talk.

Another thing you need to understand. Cedar Rapids has 130,000 people in it and I know a lot of them. Or it feels like that anyway. Walking into a restaurant feels like Dolly Levi walking into a restaurant. So at this event, were not only friends, but neighbors, and co-workers.

It was a lovely lecture. She told stories about crazy interviews. Played audio of people walking out. It was fun. Then came the Q&A.

Every time I raised my hand. Every. Time.

Finally, it came.

“We have time for one last question. Woman in the back with the red sweater.”


I stood up. Was handed a mic. Below is a rendering of what transpired.

Me: You do a lot of interviews with celebrities where you get them to open up beyond the sound bites. I am thinking especially of the interview with Henry Winkler. How do you prepare for those interviews? How do you get people to open up?



Terry: I didn’t interview Henry Winkler that was David Bianculli.

Audience: *audible gasp and nervous laughter*

Me: *slinking down into my seat*


Me *standing up*: Okay, sorry, I apologize but you do it in so many interviews. I’d love to know how you push past those sound bites.

Terry: We are out of time.


For months after I had nightmares that various NPR radio personalities yelled at me.

That’s it. That’s the story.

People I know still remember this moment and bring it up.

It’s been 12 years and I still haven’t recovered.